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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

EVH Wolfgang Special Review

Eddie Van Halen's impact on the world of guitar is undeniable. Period. Since the late 70s, whatever he used turned into something significant. His guitars (and his amp) particularly have drawn massive followings. In his early years, he significantly contributed to the explosion of companies like Charvel and Kramer, and then in the 90s, he got his own signature model. The name of his signature series has always been Wolfgang. He worked with Music Man and Peavey, and the models from both companies were quite similar in character. In later years, Eddie decided to handle his business with a solid supporting company, partnering with Fender to establish EVH. Looking at the EVH production line, i see more models then before. What i am about to review is made in 2011 or 2012. So some specs might be slightly different then todays models. This guitar is the Japan-made version of Eddie's own EVH Wolfgangs, which is relatively more affordable priced.

EVH Logo

As usual, let's start with the catalog information:

Model: Wolfgang Special

Color: Tobacco Burst

Body Wood: Basswood (with maple top veneer)

Fret Number: 22

Fret Size: Vintage Style (not Jumbo)

Position Markers: Black dots

Fingerboard Radius: 12"-16" Compound (conical)

Fingerboard Wood: AA Birdseye Maple

Neck Wood: Quartersawn Maple

Neck Finish: Hand-Rubbed Urethane

Nut Width: 41.3 mm

Tremolo: EVH-Branded Floyd Rose Tremolo and EVH D-Tuna

Bridge Pickup: Custom Designed EVH Humbucker

Neck Pickup: Custom Designed EVH Humbucker

Pickup Selector: 3-Way Switch

Scale Length: 25.5" (64.8 cm)

EVH Wolfgang Special MN Tobacco

EVH Wolfgang Special MN Tobacco

The Case Opens…

The guitar arrives in a very stylish hardcase, reminiscent of Fender's recent bag designs, which I really appreciated despite my usual aversion to hardcases (certainly in terms of carrying them). It's a well-balanced and easy-to-handle case, manufactured by SKB.

EVH Wolfgang Special MN Tobacco

The best part about the case is that it serves as a transition to the splendid guitar within. As soon as you open it, an extremely sexy guitar winks at you amidst the red velvet. It almost brings to mind Marilyn Monroe, reminiscent of her famous pose against a red velvet backdrop (click here for the curious) – I'm talking about that kind of allure. When you pick up the guitar, you're immediately struck by a "Wow" sensation. The body of the guitar is made from a notably light basswood. The quilted maple veneer on top is perhaps the essence of its appeal. This chosen veneer wood is beautifully figured and has been elegantly painted and polished. Additionally, a finely crafted burst figure on the body edges adds considerable elegance. In terms of body design, the designs of Peavey or Music Man have been largely transferred here, to the main contours of the guitar. However, it should be noted that while not necessarily in terms of visual design, the body being flat like a Telecaster does create some comfort issues. Telecaster players will know what I mean; the absence of comfort contours, although not a deal-breaker, can lead to a growing sense of discomfort the longer you play. Particularly when sitting. This is also true for the Wolfgang Special. This might not be the case for the American-made EVHs, as those models feature a arched top body structure.

My Neck, My Back…

When it comes to the neck made from birdseye maple, the first thing that caught my attention was the low string height achieved by the angled neck joint. The neck profile is universally appealing, likely to gather favor with both those who prefer thick and thin necks. Generally speaking, it’s thin. The asymmetric neck profile is a feature that enhances comfort. The fact that the fingerboard wood is different from the neck wood might be seen as a downside by fans of one-piece maple necks, but it's worth remembering that Leo Fender himself favored this type of construction in his later years, as he mentioned in interviews. An unlisted feature on the website is that the frets are made of stainless steel, which is worth noting. However, what makes the frets outstanding is not just the material but the near-perfect craftsmanship. I examine the edges of the frets, their overall shapes, and any issues with buzz or adjustment, and find nothing lacking in any of these aspects.

Additionally, there is a slight concavity between the frets, similar to what I mentioned in my review of the James Tyler Studio Elite. I still hold the same view—it's a simple thing, but in my opinion, it provides great comfort. I would recommend it to local guitar builders as well. If I were to say that the compound radius fingerboard creates wonders, that might be an overstatement :) Yes, it works, but beyond the 12-inch radius curvature, there aren't many issues anyway. Generally speaking, a transition between 9" and 14" might be more meaningful. Another noteworthy element is the finish on the back of the neck. It's polyurethane, but it's so thin that you can barely tell it's there. It's been applied very delicately, and I really appreciate that. Yes, it might not offer the best durability, but in terms of feel and dampening vibrations, it's the best.

EVH Wolfgang Special MN Tobacco

Parts of a Whole…

Let's talk about some of the components used. Firstly, the guitar's tremolo unit is produced by Floyd Rose, specifically the EVH special models. Moreover, there's a unit called "D-Tuna" installed during assembly. This is actually a product sold separately, but having it included as a standard option upon purchase is great because the D-Tuna is a useful invention. It's an extension on the lowest string side, as you can see in the photos. When you pull this gadget back, you effortlessly switch your low E string to D. Pushing it forward returns it to its previous tuning. It's a simple task with a fixed bridge, as you know, but not so practical with a Floyd Rose and its derivatives. Therefore, it's a great convenience for those who switch between standard tuning and drop D on stage. The bridge itself is very sturdy, as good as any Floyd Rose can be.

EVH Wolfgang Special MN Tobacco Review

The tuning machines are made by Gotoh and feature transluscent white pegs, which are very elegant. On the electronic side, the pots are specially made for EVH by Bourns. One is 500K (volume), and the other is 250K (tone). Additionally, there's a matter I mentioned in my article "12 Ways to Improve the Natural Tone of a Strat," which was about removing paint from electronic cavities and/or tremolo springs to allow the wood to breathe. This guitar is produced in accordance with my suggestion, with both the electronic cavity containing the pots and the tremolo cavity completely unpainted. Another plus!

The Pickups…

EVH Wolfgang Special features two humbuckers and the pickups are also great in the manner of EVH tone or balanced solid rock tones. They're direct mounted onto the body, and you don't have the option to adjust the height. But you don't really need to when using these pickups. They feature zebra coils (one black, one cream-colored). I found it interesting that the neck pickup is reverse-mounted. Normally, the screw coil faces the headstock side on the neck position pickup, but in this case, just like in John Petrucci signature models with Air Norton (both Ibanez and EBMM), the screw coil faces the tremolo. What's even weirder is that the neck pickup draws 16.40K Ohm, while the bridge pickup draws 13.80K Ohm. It's really strange because under normal circumstances, the neck pickup is weaker and has fewer windings. Yes, DCR is not equal to output, i know it quite well. But still unusual.

EVH Wolfgang Special Pickups

The Tone…

Let's talk about the sonic characteristics of the instrument. The feature that surprised me the most about this guitar, the one that really caught me off guard, is its sustain. Hit a note on strings when you set the amp in the crunchy (or slightly distorted) tones or bend a string like Gary Moore himself, and marvel at how the sound just keeps going. Seriously! It's the longest natural sustain I've experienced on a Floyd Rose-equipped guitar. I can’t say that sh¿t happens on all the EVH Wolfgang Specials but what i am reviewing is beyond limits. How i wish i could keep it. Speaking of the guitar's primary tone, I can use the words "balanced" and "smooth." Balanced because I didn't hear any specific frequency group that dominates over others in terms of tone. However, due to the character of the low-mids and the roundness in the high frequencies, it's possible to describe it as smooth. But things get even more interesting with a high-gain amp, and you realize you're facing a complete rock machine.

Overall, the tones are bright and powerful. Clarity is a strong advantage. I especially liked the bridge pickup. It's like tailor-made for this kind of work. Strong and massive yet not muddy much as you may expected, it can still maintain some clarity. That clarity and the ability to distinguish each string is present here. Actually, if I said it didn't remind me of Seymour Duncan's Custom Custom model while playing Van Halen riffs, I'd be lying. If I were to make a rough and general analogy, it felt a bit like a Custom Custom with slightly more clarity. I can be wrong because i couldn’t try as A-B test but their resistance values are actually similar and there's not much details available about this pickup. Anyway, it's easy to go in the "Unchained" tunes with a hi-gain Marshall amp or amp simulator or plug-in whatever. Or with a few tweaks, you can get into the territory of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" or "Running with the Devil”. Yet you must remember this guitar or the pickups are not as bright as the tones of the first EVH guitar tones. Of course, the D-Tuna makes things easier for drop tunings. Also, I really liked the working characteristics of the pots: i mean both taper and the stiffness. Bourns has once again demonstrated its quality. But i didn’t like the knobs much. Good for the amps or pedals but i didn’t feel as good as on guitar. By the way, the pickup selector located on the upper horn is reversed. It might seem strange to those accustomed to Les Pauls, but it's not difficult to get used to activating the bridge pickup instead of the neck pickup at first. Moreover i spent much longer time on the bridge humbucker so i didn’t need to select the neck much :)

EVH Wolfgang Special


The EVH Wolfgang Special is definitely a serious rock guitar. It's focused and excels at its job. Its success lies in its ability to excel in its primary focus rather than just "getting by" with 50 different things. Having a distinct character also contributes to its success, in my opinion. This is the strong and weak point of the guitar. Guitar has one job and it is doing it very well. But if you are looking for versatility, you can easily skip it for another brand or model or alternatively prepare yourself for some certain modifications in order to enchance its tonal palette.

EVH Wolfgang Special combines almost flawless Japanese craftsmanship, boutique-level hardware components, and quality woods with the EVH flavor, all served up to rock enthusiasts from the Fender kitchen. All that's left for us is to admire it.

EVH Wolfgang Special Review

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