|Question: Is there a viable, modern
replacement for a mid-70s "lawsuit" Ibanez Destroyer? Note: This is not a wild goose
Bottom Line: We have a new pickup
available. Send us an email if you are interested.
The Ibanez Destroyer has taken on an almost mythic status. We know that the
first notes most people heard played by Eddie Van Halen were played on a 1975
or 76 Destroyer.
Ace Frehley used one, too. John saw him play it on the Destroyer
Tour in 1976, and there's even one of Ace's Destroyers in the
Singapore Hard Rock Cafe!
Like many of you, we have gone to great lengths to duplicate Eddie Van
Halen’s elusive brown sound heard on Van Halen’s debut album. This has
included buying Variacs, original Echolplex EP-3s, and building replicas of
his black-and-white S-Style guitar. However, most overlook the fact
that Eddie recorded about half of that first album album with a Destroyer. You can hear it on “Runnin’ with the Devil,”
“You Really Got Me,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” Feel Your Love Tonight” and “On
The Destroyer allowed Mr. Van Halen to create sound effects that he couldn’t produce on
his modified Strat, such as the high-pitched metallic scrape on the “Runnin’
with the Devil” intro (picking the strings between the bridge
and stop tailpiece) and the stuttering effect on the solo to “You Really Got
Me” (Setting the neck pickup volume at “0" and flicking the
pickup selector switch). Note: I believe the neck pickup may have already
been unhooked at this point.
Eddie modified his Destroyer shortly after recording Van Halen by cutting a
large V-shaped chunk out of the body below the bridge. This guitar can
be seen on the cover of "Women and Children First". He admitted that
this modification adversely affected the tone. This is important - It was so bad that Eddie
reportedly borrowed Chris Holmes' Destroyer for the recording of "Women and
Children First", which was recorded December 1979 - February 1980 at Sunset
Sound and released on March 26,
interview of Chris Holmes on the subject
click here. You may remember that Chris Holmes was the lead
guitarist for W.A.S.P. and had a particularly disturbing appearance in the
movie "Decline of Western Civilization, Part 2: The Metal Years".
|So -- The Destroyer.
evidence Mr. Van Halen used one?
Here is a shot of Mr. Van Halen playing his modified
Destroyer. Note the touches: White Strat Knobs have replaced
the stock gold top-hat knobs, but the pointers remain. The
hardware is still chrome - which came stock on the Destroyer, but the
entire guitar, including the headstock and the back of the neck, has been painted white.
A couple of theories -
1. The knobs came from the old Black Strat Ed is picture with
2. The white paint is likely the same he used to paint his
black and white Strat, i.e. acrylic lacquer.
3. The pickups are likely stock Ibanez/Maxon Super 70s which
came on the guitar.
This model Destroyer was manufactured between 1975
and 1977. There is a possibility it is also a Greco, but if so, it
was built in the same factory with the same materials as the Ibanez.
It is literally the same guitar except for the headstock logo.
|Here is another shot of the guitar
supposedly taken at the Starwood Club in January 1977. I thought
it was interesting that Ed was using a coiled cord. Was this an
essential part of his sound? Killer!
|Live from Japan. Here is a shot of Mr.
Van Halen with what I believe to be the hacked-up version of the same Ibanez
A couple of notes:
1. Note the gold Ibanez tune-a-matic bridge. This was the
stock bridge on the Destroyer, but not in gold. This was a
replacement for the original.
2. The covered Super 70 is in the bridge position. The
uncovered pickup in the neck may be a Super 70, also.
So, we know that Van Halen 1 was recorded September – October 1977 at
Sunset Sound, Hollywood and was released February 10, 1978 .
Eddie was interviewed in
Guitar Player magazine on July 23, 1978 in which he discussed the
modifications to the Destroyer. On that day Van Halen and AC/DC
opened the show for the Pat Travers Band, Foreigner, and Aerosmith at
the Day on the Green concert at the Oakland Coliseum.
Therefore, the modification to the guitar took
place sometime in the during the Fall of 1977 and the first half of 1978.
I also believe that Eddie actually borrowed the guitar for the recording
of Van Halen II as well, which was recorded December 11, 1978 -
January 1979 at
Sunset Sound Recorders. It was released March 23, 1979.
here for more tone discussion at the MetroAmp forum.
If you 're a Van Halen fan and want a Destroyer, you
probably already know
that they are pretty hard to come by, particularly in original condition.
Let's see if there is something we can do about that using a recent Epiphone
|On the right you can see our
original 1975 Destroyer. It is in excellent condition and it is a joy
to play. It sounds like "victory" through a Variac'd Marshall, an original EP-3 Echoplex, and a Phase 90. In our opinion, this is
probably very, very similar to the guitar Mr. Van Halen played on the first
Van Halen album -- without the white paint job.
On the left is a 1998
Korean-made Epiphone Explorer, purchased
recently off of the Used Wall at a local Guitar Center. It is a
completely original example, a very nice guitar, and will be the test case for building a
Let's take a look at their similarities and differences.
On to the next page!