Legendary Amp Builder Speaks Up on Eddie Van Halen’s Mysterious Lost Amp

Famous tech and amp builder Dave Friedman, known for his Friedman amps, recalled this mysterious piece of gear that Eddie Van Halen apparently had back in the day. For quite a while, Dave collaborated with Eddie (among other guitar legends) and is one of the main architects of his rig and, ultimately, his tone.

But in a recent interview with Final Resonance TV, Friedman recalled one mysterious amp that apparently belonged to Eddie. In fact, this could be a potential start of a new quest — solving a mystery about the amp that was, according to Dave, modded by Jose Arredondo.

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During the chat, Friedman and the interviewer got into some geekier details about Eddie’s gear. When reflecting on how there was probably no signature Marshall amps back in the early 1990s, since Eddie would most likely have one, Friedman then recalled this elusive piece of gear (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I remember specifically in the early ’90s with him… [Taking a pause to think] Okay, it’s a little foggy, but I remember Jose [Arredondo, amp tech] being at a NAMM show and me running into him because I knew him then.”

“I didn’t see Eddie at that point, but they were trying to shop their amp, that Jose had made. The amp that no one knows whatever happened to. I saw it at a shop.”

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For those who may not know, Jose Arredondo is one of the most famous amp gurus who was well-known for his mods for famous players, including Eddie Van Halen. And fittingly for this story, Arredondo was an elusive figure, and not much is known about him today. Nonetheless, he’s an incredibly important part of guitar history and has also worked with the likes of Steve Vai, Jerry Cantrell, Mick Mars, and others. He was particularly famous for modifying Marshall amps, and that’s what this lost piece was based on.

Friedman continued, explaining that the amp’s whereabouts are unknown:

“No one knows whatever happened to this amp, it’s a mystery where it went. Eddie didn’t know what happened to it. No one knew what happened to it. Jose died and no one knows where it went.”

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Going into more details about it, Dave also added that the amp was quite bulky as well:

“I remember seeing it. It was like two channels, and it had one channel that was covered… It was huge! The amp was the size of a SVT, but Jose showed it to me — he didn’t play through it, he just showed me, ‘Yeah, that’s the amp we’re working on with Eddie, and Eddie sunk a bunch of money into it.'”

“And no one knew what happened to it. The mystery, where it went. It’d be amazing if it turned up one day, but I don’t think it’s gonna turn up.”

“I think it was probably trashed at some point in time. I don’t know. Maybe his family has it? I have no idea. Well, it’s a mystery. You’d think it would have come up already by now.”

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When asked whether it could be in the Eddie’s old stash somewhere, he simply replied:

“No, they don’t have it. They didn’t have it. Never had.”

During the same interview, Friedman also reflected on the work of Eddie’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen. Asked about Wolfgang, he replied:

“Wolf is awesome! He is a nice guy. I first met him when I was doing rigs for his dad, and I do his rigs now. The torch is passed, you know.”

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He also added:

“He is a very talented guy. I would venture to say he might be more talented than his father was. I mean, that father was very talented, but Wolf is a real multi-instrumentalist, he plays everything on the record, the drums, vocals, just everything and that’s not easy, man. And he writes the songs… man, it’s all-encompassing there.”

When reminded of some of the negative attention that Wolfgang got due to getting into the world of guitar while being a son of one of the biggest guitar players of all time, Dave said:

“I think that’s a bunch of crap. Look, he’s not his dad. He’s not Van Halen — he’s ‘a’ Van Halen, but it’s his own music, it’s his own merit. It needs to be his own.”

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“If you don’t like the fact he doesn’t play a Van Halen song, tough. NOT. VAN. HALEN. He’s got his own songs and his own merit to stand on, and I applaud that.”

He also added:

“He’s a great vocalist. I kinda look at Wolfgang almost like another Dave Grohl or something—he’s writing songs that are more in the vein of a Foo Fighters kind of thing. And I think they’re cool, the videos have a sense of humor, and I think it’s fun.”

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Photo: Abby Gillardi (Van Halen-8597 (20643101375))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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