A Gibson logo?

Yes, folks, a Gibson logo decal.  We had originally thought that the decal was removed early on, but maybe it wasn't installed until after the first album was recorded.  We have some photo evidence below.

Van Halen, the group's killer debut,  was released on February 10, 1978.  It was recorded at Los Angeles' Sunset Sound Studio, and it was produced by Ted Templeman and engineered by Donn Landee.  We don't have any photos of that first session, but what we do know is that the S-Style held by Eddie on the album cover does not have a logo on the headstock.

Here is a shot of Eddie at Oakland Alameda County Stadium, Oakland, California on July 23, 1978.  This was during the "Day on The Green" concert.  Click on this image to see it full size.  Notice anything on the headstock of the guitar?

Also note the "bomb simulator", painted black, in the background.  He has that cool old Univox echo mounted it.  This is the same type used on the killer dive bomb at the end of "Eruption". 

So was this an anomaly?  Was the decal used for that one show?  Did the Art Department at Warner Brothers edit out the "Gibson" logo for the album cover?  Read on....


This is a very famous photo.  Sort of a "Band with Schlitz Malt Liquor" or "Four Young Men at Work with The Bull".  This photo was taken during the recording of Van Halen II at Los Angeles' Sunset Sound Studio.  The album was released on March 23, 1979.  Like Van Halen, it was produced by Ted Templeman and engineered by Donn Landee, and it is our favorite Van Halen album.  Urban legend has it that the album was recorded and mixed in ten days.  If that is true, this photo was probably taken in January or February of 1979.

While this is an interesting photo on several levels, and we can debate what this represents for days, we want you to take a look at the headstock on Eddie's guitar.  See something gold on there?  Also note:  the strap in this photo is the same as the one in the "Day on The Green" photo from the previous summer.  The black, studded strap is AWOL.

Here is a photo we found after an exhaustive search.  Probably made on the same roll of film as the photo above.

This one shows the destroyed Ibanez Destroyer in full detail.  At this point it had already been chopped-up and painted.  This guitar would resurface on the cover of Women and Children First.

You can also see the Gibson decal on the headstock of the FrankenStrat, though not as clearly.

Also of note -- Check out that Strat-style guitar behind Ed with a Danelectro looking headstock.  Our question is, "What song(s) did Ed use this guitar for on Van Halen II, if at all?"

We can assume from these photos that Eddie had the logo on his guitar from at least July 1978 to early 1979. 

Here are some close-ups from the photo above.

Here is an attempt at blowing up just the headstock.  There is clearly a gold decal on the headstock, and it goes along with our recollection of seeing it in the past.
Here is a close-up of the body.  Note the peeling of the tape on the upper left corner (more evidence of tape).


What does it mean?  We believe there are three possibilities:  1.  The Art Department at Warner Brothers edited out the Gibson decal on the Van Halen cover; 2. Eddie applied the decal after the photo for Van Halen was taken or: 3.  This is different neck than the one used on the first album.  We tend to go with Number 2 based on the early photos we have seen and the ones posted on Page 3. this like those guys claiming to see the extra policeman on the "grassy knoll" in Dallas based on photo evidence?  Probably not.  However, if you really want to build an authentic VH clone that is representative of the 1978-79 era, you'd better find one of those Gibson water-slide decals on eBay.  We're going to fix ours!

Will it affect the sound of the guitar?  We don't know, but there are lots of folks out there willing to pay thousands of dollars for a pickup whose real claim to fame is a decal saying "Patent Applied For" affixed to its base. 


In the March 2007 issue of GuitarWorld, Mr. Van Halen comes clean on the decal.  On page 60, during a discussion of the original FrankenStrat, Mr. Van Halen stated:

The result of these modifications was a guitar that combined Van Halen's favorite aspects of his Les Paul Standard, and Jr., ES-335, and Start.  "I put a Gibson sticker on the headstock of the black and white guitar because, basically, it's a cross between my favorite features of a Gibson and a Fender guitar.  I wanted the vibrato bar and the feel of a Strat, but I wanted the Gibson sound.  That was a conscious move.  It was not an accident."

There you have it.  Check out the photo on page 71.  Now it's time to build another.....

Click here to read more!


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