Full Rig Details: https://bit.ly/MammothWVHRR
Following in a parent’s professional footsteps is daunting. Imagine re-treading that ground in the public eye. Now conceptualize walking in the footsteps of one of the greatest guitarists to ever live. Succeeding on any level seems impossible. So where do you start when trying to find your own voice on an instrument your dad basically reconstructed?
“The main thing, when I started doing this, was that I wanted to find my own sort of sound and not do everything dad did,” says Wolfgang Van Halen. “When it came to guitar, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just wanted to sound like myself.”
After 15 years in the family band (and working alongside Mark Tremonti for his solo project), that’s what Wolf did when he wrote and tracked all the instruments on the 15 songs for his debut album, Mammoth WVH, released last year. (The title is a nod to the original name of his father’s and uncle’s iconic band during 1972-’74.)
Things have changed since we last checked out Wolf’s setup. Back in 2012, when PG got the special treat of swooping into Bridgestone Arena to check out the rigs of Eddie and Wolf. We got to see the various Wolfgang models dad brought out, and Wolf’s custom-made one-off basses constructed by master builder Chip Ellis.
Now Wolf is playing guitar and singing lead. He’s flanked by two additional guitarists (Frank Sidoris and Jon Jourdan), while bass and drums are handled by Ronnie Ficarro and Garrett Whitlock (respectively). There’s still a lot of his dad’s thumbprint on the band’s setup, but there’s two new things afoot. This tour saw two new prototypes unveiled: a signature semi-hollow for Wolf and beefy, humbucker-loaded basses were being road-tested (or, as the Van Halens say, in the “crash-testing phase”).
“Through writing and recording that first album, and having fun, I ended up tracking most with a 335 and that semi-hollowbody sound became the baseline for all of Mammoth WVH,” says Wolf. So, he and Ellis sought to combine reverence for the EVH legacy with something fresh for not only Wolf’s sound but to expand the company’s appeal. “I want to make something that has the DNA of the EVH brand, but something that they don’t offer.”
Before a headlining show at the Signal in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on May 17th, PG traveled south down I-24 to see what was percolating in the EVH and WVH camps. We were fortunate enough to be joined by Ellis and Van Halen, who talked about the development of the new SA-126 semi-hollow guitar and then focused on the new thunder-stick 4-string prototype that’s being “crash tested” by bandmate Ronnie Ficarro. Additionally, we cover the setups of riff warriors Sidoris (also of Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators) and Jourdan (To Whom It May), who fly the EVH flag but bring their own shine.
00:00 - D’Addario XS Electric Strings
00:15 - Wolf Van Halen Intro
01:15 - Wolf Van Halen & Chip Talk EVH SA-126 Prototypes
10:07 - Wolf Van Halen's EVH 5150III 50W 6L6
11:45 - Wolf Van Halen's Pedalboard
15:13 - Jon Jourdan's Custom EVH Wolfgang & PRS Custom 24 Platinum
17:59 - Jon Jordan's EVH 5150III EL34
19:09 - Jon Jourdan's Pedalboard
22:41 - Chip Ellis & Ronnie Ficarro Talk EVH Prototype Basses
30:31 - Ronnie Ficarro's Super Bassman 300W
32:19 - Ronnie Ficarro's Pedalboard
37:37 - Frank Sidoris' Gibson Custom 1964 SG Standard reissue
41:55 - Frank Sidoris' EVH 5150III 50S 6L6
42:51 - Frank Sidoris' Pedalboard