500 Words with Adam P Hunt- Super Strats!
Adam P Hunt is a freelance writer who has previously written for The Library Journal and Premier Guitar Magazine. We are so happy to have him join us here at Guitar Radio Show.com.
500 Words on Superstrats
Over the weekend I watched a somewhat unusual video. The video featured vintage gear fanatic Joe Bonamassa playing a late seventies single pickup equipped Charvel San Dimas.
The San Dimas was painted like one of Eddie Van Halen’s early black and yellow Strat inspired guitars so it was surprising to see Bonamassa playing a relatively modern guitar.
During the late seventies Van Halen’s original Frankenguitar turned the vintage world on its head. At that point there was a general consensus amongst guitar players that if you wanted good tone it meant playing a guitar from a small number of select vintage options.
Van Halen’s radically pragmatic guitar combined aspects of both a Stratocaster and a Les Paul. He chiseled out a pickup cavity on his Boogie Body Strat copy, dropped in a humbucker pickup he and gaffeled from his ES-335 and went on to make history.
The eighties had as many guitars that were inspired by Van Halen as there were guitarists but by the end of the decade the fad began to fade away.
By the nineties every one sold their one pickup whammy bar “Superstrats” and were scouring pawnshops for Univox Mosrite copies. Day-Glo Spandex was out, ripped up jeans and flannel was in.
Well, that is until when people started buying zoot suits and big box jazz guitars but that’s a different story.
I had a Superstrat for a while. It was a B. C. Rich Retro Gunslinger with a Floyd Rose tremelo system and DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup.
For what it was, it was fine guitar and really facilitated a certain style of playing well but I’m more inclined to want to learn how to play “Monkey Man” than “Eruption”.
Do I see an eighties revival on the horizon? Not really, but pointy headstock guitars are still alive and well in the extreme music world.
Eddie was hardly the first person to have a single pickup guitar and there are plenty of examples of old Fender Esquires and Gibson ES 125s that used a Bibsby trem. Van Halen’s contribution can also be heard from this highly modified Marshalls.
Before Van Halen most high gain amps were pretty anemic sounding. Sure, there were a couple of players that were renowned for their thick tones but most of them used a stomp box in one form or another.
Listen to any track from “Van Halen I” and compare that to “Electric Ladyland”. Even though Jimi Hendrix’s guitars sound great they aren’t as thick or as complex as Van Halen’s.
Sure, there’s roughly ten year’s difference between the two recordings and some people will cry “foul” because Jimi used a Strat, but Jimi was known to use a Flying V and a Les Paul.
It’s a long walk from “Van Halen I” to Mayhem’s “Esoteric Warfare” but a lot of modern rock wouldn’t sound the same if it weren’t for his efforts.
Before you “poo poo” Superstrats go back and listen to records before 1978.