I’ve tried a number of pickups in my newly finished Strat over the past few months. I recently traded some pickups for an EVH Frankenstein Humbucker and thought that my Frankie-inspired strat would be the perfect test bed for this pickup. Sure, it has an alder body, custom brass and titanium vintage style bridge and stainless steel frets, but the vibe was there for the EVH Frankenstein to fit right in.
As usual I tested the EVH Frankenstein Humbucker through my Blackstar HT-5 head and Celestion Vintage 30 1×12″cabinet.
The EVH Frankenstein Humbucker is an interesting pickup. It was designed with Eddie Van Halen’s input by Seymour Duncan to go in the $25,000 Frankenstrat tribute. The Frankenstein Humbucker isn’t an exact replica of the famous pickup, but rather something that gets the sorts of tones that it is capable of.
With a degaussed (aged/weakened) Alnico 2 magnet and a 14.4K resistance the Frankenstein has a real hot overwound vintage PAF vibe. It has a vintage single conductor braided ground wire, so there’s only one way you are going to wire this up – full bore humbucker baby! In style with the original it’s acting as, the Frankenstein is only available in classic Gibson pole piece spacing. That really isn’t an issue, other than cosmetically. There’s no cloth tape covering the wire coils either, its really made to look like the old humbucker Eddie pulled out of a Gibson and removed the pickup cover.
Starting off on the dirty channel of my Blackstar HT-5 I was greeted by a some great tone. The Frankenstein is tonally very balanced with a nice muscular low mid crunch. The degaussed Alnico 2 magnet gives you a very chewy low end that is great for big rock chords, and single notes squeeze out of the guitar in a really good way.
Lead guitar parts sound amazing with the Frankenstein. The tone isn’t too thick that it’s too muddy down low, and it isn’t too thin that things sound shrill up high. Harmonics, both natural and artificial pop out of this pickup with ease.
Many will want the Frankenstein to cop early Van Halen tones, and with the right amp and settings this pickup will get you in the ballpark. No one is going to sound just like Eddie, even with the same amplifier, effects and guitar, but this pickup at least gives you the vibe from those iconic first few albums.
Don’t discount the Frankenstein as a one trick rock pony though. The chewiness of the tone won’t exactly give you the sharp precise attack required for modern metal, but it is more than adequate for traditional heavy metal, as well as doom, sludge, punk and stoner rock.
The Frankenstein’s cleans aren’t the cleanest with the guitar’s volume full tilt on a clean channel, but it does have a nice gritty quality. It gets much nicer when you roll it back. In fact with the guitar’s volume knob rolled back a little you get a really sweet tone, thanks to the Alnico 2 magnet.
Playing through a cranked single channel amp and riding the guitar’s volume control like Eddie yields great results. The Frankenstein will give you a really sweet tone with a slightly gritty texture when the volume’s rolled back, just like you hear on those early Van Halen albums, and spin around to great cranked dirty tones with it on ten.
Overall the EVH Frankenstein Humbucker is a fantastic pickup that really gets that early Eddie Van Halen vibe to a tee. But not only that, It’s a great pickup for any rock and more. As far as pickups go it’s pretty expensive, but its certainly not overrated. If you think that the Frankenstein may provide the sort of tones you seek, and have the funds for it definitely try one out.