Some items will go down in history – not necessarily because they were sonically amazing but because the people who used them cut their own path – Eddie’s Frankenstrat is no exception. selectAV are “HOT for Frankenstrat”
Body and neck
Eddie Van Halen bought the Frankenstrat's ash body and maple neck for a total of $130. Both of these parts were procured from Wayne Charvel, who sold Boogie Body-made bodies and necks. The body of the guitar was a 'second', so called because it was not cosmetically pleasing. In Van Halen's case, the body had a knot in the wood. He bought it at a discount ($50) because he believed it would perform fine. The neck had jumbo fret wire and the truss
Eddie originally used a Fender Tremolo System from his '58 Fender Stratocaster. The Floyd
Eddie originally equipped the Frankenstrat with a PAF (Patent Applied For) pickup he removed from his Gibson ES-335. He potted the pickup in paraffin wax to reduce microphonic feedback, a technique that had been popular before machine-winding. He screwed the pickup to the guitar in the bridge position, slightly sideways to compensate for the different string spacing between Gibson's pickup and Fender's bridge. The pickup was later replaced with a Seymour Duncan humbucker.
Van Halen removed both tone control potentiometers and wired the pickups in a simple circuit, largely due to his limited knowledge of electrical circuitry. Van Halen famously used a knob reading 'tone' on the volume control spot. He then used a vinyl record he carved as a pickguard to cover the controls. Later, the pickguard was changed to a real pickguard that had been similarly hacked. The pickguard had 5 holes for mounting screws (one hole was drilled by Eddie), but only 3 screws were ever installed. A strip of double-sided masking tape was also added near the pickguard, on which he would place several picks. The simple circuit consisted of a single humbucking pick-up, one A500k potentiometer (for a volume control), one B500k potentiometer (for a tone control), and one "1/4 inch" output jack.
Paint and finish
Eddie painted the guitar black. After it was dry he put strips of masking tape on the body and painted it white. This would create the classic version of the Frankenstrat. Due to companies selling guitars with similar finishes, he stopped playing the guitar in public, instead using the famous black and yellow "bumble bee" guitar (pictured on Van Halen II). In 1979, after much disappointment with the performance of the black and yellow guitar, Eddie re-taped the body of the original white and black Frankenstrat, and painted over that with red Schwinn bicycle paint. As Eddie said, "The Schwinn bicycle paint gives it pop."