Eddie Van Halen Amp Settings – Get the Signature EVH Tone!

Author: Dedrich Schafer | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

When it comes to instantly recognizable guitar tones, there are a few names that spring to mind. Eddie Van Halen is certainly close to the top of that list.

The guitarist responsible for some of the biggest rock anthems and popularizing tapping has one of the most distinctive guitar sounds.

To figure out how to get the EVH guitar tone, let’s first take a look at the gear and settings he used and see if we can recreate his iconic sound.

Eddie’s Gear

When it comes to picking the right gear for Eddie’s sound, he might be the easiest guitarist. Eddie has an extensive range of signature guitars, amps, and pedals under the EVH brand.

A lot of it is also not too expensive. This makes it easy and relatively affordable to get the right gear and pretty much be set to go.


Eddie mostly played Strat-style guitars. His most famous guitar is a custom model he called the Frankenstrat.

The two best guitars for recreating his sound would be the EVH Striped Series ‘78 Eruption or the Striped Series 5150. These are both excellent guitars and as close to his original as you can get.

There are also more affordable versions of both. The white with black stripes and the red with black and white stripes. These are pretty much the same, just with slightly lower-grade hardware.

For a more budget-friendly option, his son, Wolfgang, also has his own signature range of guitars. The EVH Wolfgang WG Standard is an excellent alternative.

You can also use a Strat with a humbucker at the bridge. A Fender Player Strat or Squier Affinity Strat will both work. You can then also replace the humbucker with an EVH Frankenstein humbucker to get more of a Van Halen guitar tone.


Just like with his guitars, the best option for amps are EVH. The EVH 5150III is going to be the best option for most intermediate to pro guitarists.

The 5150 Iconic is a smaller, more affordable option. Or if you want to go really loud, you can go with the 5150III 100S amp head and pair it with a 5150III 100S cab.

If you already have a Marshall amp, you should probably be good to go, though. Otherwise, the Origin 50 is a great alternative to the 5150 Iconic. The Code 50 is also a good modeling amp that you can use to emulate Eddie’s sound.


Eddie used quite a lot of effects and experimented quite a bit with different pedals. However, most of these effects aren’t present in every Van Halen song.

There are four effects that can be considered the most important since these are the effects that are present in most songs. These effects are overdrive, flanger, phaser, and delay.

If you are using an amp like the 5150 or a Marshall, you will likely use the amp’s distortion. But if you find the distortion on your amp lacking or not sounding right, the best option is to use an MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive pedal. This will give you a distortion similar to a 5150 amp.

For the other three effects, there are also two EVH-branded pedals and one non-EVH-branded one. For flanger, there is the MXR EVH117.

For phaser, there is the MXR EVH Phase 90, and for the delay, the Dunlop Echoplex. Additionally, for any songs that have a wah, you can use the Dunlop EVH95 Cry Baby.

EVH Amp Settings – Van Halen Tone!

It is a bit of a challenge to get Eddie’s amp settings exactly right. He was known to experiment with his amp settings, and they frequently changed. Then, of course, there is the issue of every amp being different.

One notable thing about Eddie’s amp is that he used a Variac transformer. This made his amp distort earlier, helping to create his signature brown sound. This isn’t a requirement to recreate his sound but is something you can try to do yourself if you know how.

There is at least some consistency in Eddie’s tone. That means that we can figure out a sort of baseline that we can then use to dial in his tone more accurately.

Let us look at the gain, bass, mids, and treble and what their starting settings should possibly look like.

Gain: Eddie had quite a crunchy tone with a lot of sustain. This means that you will want to set your gain quite high. 7 or 8 should be a good starting point. This will provide a lot of overdrive and stop just before the amp starts to distort heavily.

Bass: His tone wasn’t overly boomy and dirty. The bass should be around halfway to give it enough depth but to avoid any muddiness.

Mids: Eddie had a bit of a scooped mid sound. So, to start, set the mids on the amp to just below the bass at around 4. If you have an amp that is already a bit scooped, like a Fender, you can set the mids a bit higher.

Highs: Eddie’s tone had quite a bit of brightness to it to add clarity. Highs should be set higher than the bass at around 6 or 7.

If your amp has built-in reverb, you can also add a bit of it, but keep it relatively low. Somewhere between 3 and 5 should be enough.

So, to recap, your base settings should look something like this:

  • Gain – 7/8
  • Bass – 5/6
  • Mids – 4
  • Highs – 6/7
  • Reverb – 3-5

To help give us a better understanding of the amp settings Eddie used, let us take a look at a few popular Van Halen songs and the possible amp settings used on them.


  • Gain – 7
  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 3
  • Highs – 6
  • Reverb – 5


  • Gain – 7
  • Bass – 4
  • Mids – 6
  • Highs – 7
  • Reverb – 5

You Really Got Me

  • Gain – 8
  • Bass – 7
  • Mids – 5
  • Highs – 5
  • Reverb – 3

Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love

  • Gain – 8
  • Bass – 6
  • Mids – 4
  • Highs – 6
  • Reverb – 5

As far as pedal settings go, there isn’t really any information to work with. We do know that he had his phaser set at around 2 or 3. Listening to Van Halen’s songs, it doesn’t sound like Eddie was going too crazy with the pedal settings.

They were used more as ways to add extra texture and color to songs rather than a way to completely change the sound. You are going to need to experiment, but the settings will likely be kept under halfway for the most part.

Phaser and delay are also present in quite a few songs. You can start playing songs with those effects on and then simply add and remove effects until it sounds right.


And there you have it, all the gear and amp settings you need to recreate one of the most iconic guitar tones in music history. Just remember that these EVH amp settings aren’t definitive.

Every guitar and amp is different. And since we don’t have any firm numbers, you are going to have to experiment until it sounds right.

But that is part of the fun of recreating a specific tone, isn’t it?

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About Dedrich Schafer

Dedrich is a guitar player, songwriter and sound engineer with extensive music production and studio experience. He mostly listens to classic rock and punk bands, but sometimes also likes listening to rap and acoustic songs.

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