Eddie Van Halen’s Wolfgang guitars have long been admired for their balanced design and excellent rock tones. Unfortunately, they’ve also been known for their high price tag (going all the way back to the original Music Man models). The current EVH brand is no exception with respect to the high price tag for the made-in-USA models. However, fortunately the current line also sports several instruments made in Mexico, and these south-of-the-border Wolfgang Specials feature excellent bang for the buck. For around $1,000, you can get a Wolfgang model that will satisfy even the most demanding clientele.
The Wolfgang Special is a solidbody guitar with a basswood body and an optional flamed maple veneer top. The bolt-on neck is made of quartersawn maple and features a 12″ – 16″ compound radius fretboard with 22 jumbo frets. The electronics are based on dual direct-mounted Wolfgang humbucking, Van Halen’s preferred method of mounting pickups (he claims it increases sustain), all controlled by a 3 way switch with master volume and tone. As you’d expect, the bridge is a Floyd Rose with the patented Drop-D “EVH D Tuna” control.
With at list price of around $1,500, the made-in-Mexico Wolfgang special doesn’t exactly fit into the “budget guitar” category, but with the USA-made Wolfgang models coming in at over $4k list, “budget” is a matter of perspective. But one thing is certain – the WVH Wolfgang Special certainly does not play or sound like a lesser guitar.
Any guitar sporting the EVH name has a lot to live up to with respect to its playability, and the Wolfgang Special is no exception. Both the size of the neck as well as the compound radius make this an absolutely player, regardless of the kind of music you play with this particular Wolfgang, but it’s definitely geared for the rock guitarist.
The EVH humbuckers are the exact same models featured in the USA-made guitars, so as you’d expect the amplified tones are first rate. The bridge pickups were everything you’d want in rock guitar pickups, hot yet defined and the warmer neck pickups maintained the definition, even at lower volumes.
One word of warning, though. The toggle switch is wired in “reverse,” so the up position is the bridge pickup and the down pickup is the neck. The reason for this change is only due to Van Halen’s personal preference, but when every other guitar in existence does the exact opposite, it’s kind of a pain.
The Floyd Rose bridge stayed in tune under extreme vibrato bar usage and the patented D-Tuna (for quick “D” tuning) worked as expected (and has become standard equipment for many Floyd users worldwid).
With a street price of around a grand, the EVH Wolfgang Special is a pretty good bargain. The neck is smooth and comfortable and tones are pure classic rock.
Name of Gear: EVH Wolfgang Special
List Price: $1,517.23
Manufacturer Info: evhgear.com
Pros: Good bargain overall. Superb neck construction. Quality hardware.
Cons: Toggle switch wiring could confuse some.