See Neal Schon ‘Shred Like Ed’ in Video Tribute to Former Tourmate Eddie Van Halen
Don't we all wish we could shred like Ed? Luckily for Journey's Neal Schon, he got an up-close look at the brilliance of guitarist Eddie Van Halen on Van Halen's first major tour, and the Journey guitar great recently paid tribute to his onetime tourmate by posting a shred video as "a little tribute to Ed."
The three-minute plus video finds Schon seated, playing a EVH Striped Series guitar with a similar look to the guitar look that Eddie used to play with, scorching his way through some picking and two-hand tapping techniques all along the fretboard.
"A little tribute to Ed," noted Schon, adding, "It was so amazing to be on Van Halen’s 1st tour with him. I watched him annihilate every single night and was grateful I didn’t have to follow him." Indeed, the tour that Schon is referencing had Journey as the headliners, with Van Halen opening and Ronnie Montrose having to perform second each night. Check out the video below. It also received a "fire emoji" comment former Volbeat guitarist Rob Caggiano in the comments.
Though it was their first major tour, Van Halen had made a name for themselves playing in the Los Angeles club scene for years prior. So they were well seasoned before hitting the stage playing to a broader national audience.
In a 2012 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Schon recalled, "I remember sitting in my old house in ‘78 up on the hill in Mill Valley with an old record player and I have their little red EP on with ‘Eruption,’ right? And I’m sitting in the bedroom with a guitar and I’m trying to figure out what the hell he’s doing, you know? I’d never seen the tapping thing with the right hand. I saw Harvey Mandel do it maybe a couple of times, but I’d never seen it done with triplets. So I wasn’t aware of it and I was pulling my hair out trying to figure it out. Usually, I could dissect almost anything I listened to and I wasn’t hip to that technique. So until I met Ed and then he showed me that, I was like 'Wow, you would have thrown me for a loop.' I didn’t know what that was."
The guitarist continues, "He showed it to me and of course after you see it, it’s easy to emulate. There were so many guys that did it after that, I tried to stay away from it. But yeah, it was a competitive guitar bill. And all I can tell you is that at that time, Eddie was red hot, but I was jamming hard, Ronnie was jamming hard, we were all jamming hard, you know? [We were] holding onto our own, but I was glad I wasn’t coming after Van Halen at that point, that’s all I can tell you. Because they were just coming out of left field and it was brand new and Ed was the new kid on the block, a gunslinger."
In 2020, Schon recalled to Eddie Trunk on SiriusXM's Trunk Nation (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), "He would hide it a lot [onstage]. In the beginning, he would turn his back, a lot of times, to the audience, or hold the guitar in a certain way where you couldn't see exactly what he was doing. So about halfway through, I remember being in his dressing room, or he came in my dressing room, and I said, 'Show me what it is, man.' And he did it. And I did it pretty immediately, but I was just, like, 'Son of a bitch. That's so crazy.' I never would have thought of that. And I had heard it before — the sound of it — but not doing the triplets and what Ed was doing."
"Ed set the bar so high, but also he was such an innovator in the sense of being able to know what sound he needed to use. The fact that he needed to be in E flat was like a big secretive thing, because it's not so easy to do in E. You can still do it when the guitar is tuned up a half a step, but when it's in E flat, the strings become more like rubber bands, so it's easier to get a lot more speed off it, off your index finger of your right hand. So little tricks of the trade of what he developed into his own style," Schon added. "And also the power alternator that he used on the old Marshall heads that actually soaked the power down in the heads that made it easier to dig in. When the tube's heated up from a little less power — rather than running on 110, it was probably running about 100. So the tubes would heat up and everything would compress a bit more. It's like built-in natural amp distortion — it gave him that beautiful brown sound."