Edward Van Halen's 5150

Edward Van Halen's 5150 Guitar is one of the most recognizable guitars in rock history. Ed assembled this guitar himself at the Kramer factory, and even painted it himself with Krylon "rattle-can" paint. The guitar consisted of an original Floyd Rose tremolo, one humbucker, and a single volume knob. A very simple guitar, for a very simple sound that is truly amazing. The neck was built by Paul Unkert, he made several necks for Eddie over the course of his tenure with Kramer. As the story goes, Paul glued wings on a Kramer beak neck, with those wings coming from a headboard in his mother's garage (because it was the right thickness).

The myth behind this great guitar is that it is a Kramer Baretta. This is actually a totally custom guitar made from custom parts in the old Kramer Guitar Factory in Neptune NJ. Another fact is that the body isn't actually a Baretta. The body is what would have been known as a Kramer Pacer Special. In fact, the control cavity is very different from most Kramers that were produced after 1984.

Edward Van Halen's 5150


Pacer Special Poplar or Basswood (unknown) Body
Custom made all maple Kramer neck with skunk stripe
Original Floyd Rose Tremolo
Custom wound pickup
Single volume knob (Jazz Bass knob)
Gotoh 90 Degree Tuners (update 1/1/06 - not Schaller minis)
Schwin or Krylon paint (unknown)
Reflective "5150" Space Tape lettering and stars
(Buy SpaceTape from Dave at SpaceTape.com)

Click on the image to see a larger version

The neck has some interesting characteristics as well. It was designed with an assymetrical back shape, something Kramer never offered on its guitars. The Ernie Ball MusicMan EVH model, and the EVH Wolfgang have both been modeled after this backshape. Since I own both the MusicMan and the Wolfgang, I can say this backshape is indeed very unique, and extremely comfortable to play. The neck also looks very clean in this picture, I would assume Ernie Ball cleaned this up nicely for Ed when they did work on the headstock in 1992.

Additionally, the pickup is custom made my Edward himself, and rumor has it that Seymour Duncan was going to market a pickup just like his as the EVH signature pickup. There is some debate on if the pickup was just a standard JB too. The headstock is truly original as well, Kramer never made a headstock like the one on Ed's 5150. It was another custom addition by Paul Unkert. The last known recording with this guitar was Judgement Day on the Van Halen LP F.U.C.K. Around that same era, the headstock was broken around the 5th guitar tuner, and was repaired by MusicMan. As you can see above, an additional tuner was added before the headstock was fixed in order to keep it playing. This guitar is an absolute players guitar, it aint pretty, its made for playin'!

Other Red and White Striped Kramers

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From Left to Right:

"1984" Kramer - used as backup to 5150 on tour

Transtrem Kramer - has a patented Steinberger transtrem installed.

Kramer Sustainer - Neck position has a Sustainer pickup

Double-Neck - I think this was used on the Diver Down tour, has an aluminum neck with the older Kramer "V" headstock. Really cool!

Secrets of the 5150 by Dino

This video is a study of the finer details of Van Halen's 5150 Kramer guitar. I used my replica as a model for the different attributes. This info is not written in stone and may not be 100% accurate but it should give a good idea as to the features that the 5150 had. CLICK ON THE PICTURE OF OUR GOOD BUDDY DAVE TO SEE THE VIDEO.

Frankenstein Artwork © 2000-2003 Edward Van Halen. All rights reserved.

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