How to Get Eddie Van Halen Guitar Solo Sound Cheap

Sounding like Eddie Van Halen doesn’t have to break the bank. Knowing what guitar pedals, amps or guitars to buy is the key to your success. The question is, do you need to spend a boat load of money and buy the top of the line EVH products to get the Eddie Van Halen sound.

Buying EVH signature gear should definitely get you close to Eddie’s sound but is it necessary? Eddie sounded like “Eddie” before he had an entire line of EVH products.

This article will focus primarily on the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo tone and one main effect he used on almost all of his guitar solos. Personally, I look at every Van Halen song as one long guitar solo but I’ll focus on the actual “guitar solo” sound itself.

To get a good grasp on where to even start with the classic Van Halen sound you have go back to the early years. Starting with the debut self-titled album, Van Halen, Eddie’s guitar antics helped push sales past 10 million by 1999 in the US alone.

Starting with “Runnin’ With The Devil“, if you fast forward to the guitar solo, what you hear is the classic MXR Phase 90.

“And I use an MXR Phase 90 phase shifter that gives me treble boost for solos, too.” – Eddie Van Halen (circa 1978)

MXR Phase 90 Pedal

The MXR Phase 90 is the extra “treble boost” that Eddie uses on pretty much every solo on the album (and subsequent albums as well). He has also said in interviews that “it made the solo pop.. because back then, in the club days, we usually had lousy P.A. systems and lousy sound guys. It didn’t boost the signal, but it made it pop out so the solo was more audible. It enhanced the tone.”

The bad news is the club scene P.A. systems are still not perfect and it’s still hard to find a sound guy that will follow you and your band around the circuit. The good news is you can still use the MXR Phase 90 for the same purpose as Eddie did.

Now that Eddie has his own line of products you have choices. The classic MXR Phase 90 or the EVH Phase 90.

MXR Phase 90 Versus EVH Phase 90


Check prices for the MXR phase 90 and EVH 90

Appearance – MXR 90 Pedal Looks

Starting with the obvious difference, the EVH Phase 90 has Eddie’s classic Frankenstein paint job. In the looks department this definitely beats out the original MXR phase 90. The casing is pretty much the same with just a different paint. Both are built solidly and made to last.

Inside the Pedal 

Unlike the original MXR 90, the EVH90 also comes with a toggle switch that allows you to toggle between the classic MXR phase 90 script and a more modern, in-your-face “Block Logo” phaser which produces a thicker sound and is not as smooth.

Price – Is the EVH90 Worth The Extra Cost?

There is a big difference in price between the MXR phase 90 and the EVH phase 90. Is it worth it? That’s really up to you. You can think of the EVH phase 90 as two phaser pedals in one. You get the classic Eddie phaser sound and a more modern sounding phaser at the flip of a switch. Do you need the extra phaser sound? I don’t think so personally.

If you are on a budget the MXR phase 90 will work perfectly to get the Eddie guitar solo sound.

How To Use The MXR Phaser on Your Guitar Solos

This guitar pedal is one of the easiest pedals to adjust. The original phase 90 only has the on/off  stomp button and a speed knob. Eddie set the phase speed to the slowest setting for his solos. You can set it there and forget it. Just hit the pedal before you start ripping into the classic Van Halen solos.

Where should I put the phase 90 in my pedal chain?

For years I searched for the perfect order of guitar effects and pedals. The best advice I found was to experiment on my own and see what I liked best. What I found was that most pedals do sound better in a certain order but the phaser is totally a different beast. I personally prefer putting the phaser in front of the amp before anything else except maybe the volume pedal.

Guitar -> Volume Pedal -> MXR phase 90 -> Distortion/Amp

Eddie puts the phaser out in front of his other pedals with the exception of the MXR Flanger which is another pedal you should consider adding to your board if you plan on playing “Unchained” or “The Cradle Will Rock”.  He’ll put the flanger in front of the phaser.

So, the next time you play “Ice Cream Man” and you want that hot tone when the solo hits, crank up the gain and hit the MXR phase 90!


About the author

Craig Kelley

Hi, I'm Craig and I write most of the stuff on this website. Feel free to catch up with me on Twitter. You can learn more about me on my site here and listen to my music here.