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NAMM 2024: “The SA was borne out of a necessity for finding my own sound for Mammoth”: EVH Gear marks Eddie Van Halen’s birthday with the unveiling of Wolfgang’s signature SA-126 semi-hollow

 EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126.
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126.

NAMM 2024: EVH Gear has unveiled its eagerly anticipated new signature guitar for Wolfgang Van Halen, fittingly releasing the semi-hollow SA-126 on his late father Eddie's birthday.

The SA-126, which takes its name from Eddie Van Halen's birthday (26 January), has been a long time coming. We have seen the prototypes onstage whenever Mammoth WVH play, most notably at Wembley Stadium where Wolfgang tore through On Fire and Hot For Teacher at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert.

But this was an electric guitar that was breaking new ground for EVH Gear as a company. It was going to be, and now is, its first ever semi-hollow, and Wolfgang, just as his father did, wanted to break the new six-string in on the road to see how it held up.

“The SA was borne out of a necessity for finding my own sound for Mammoth,” says Wolfgang. “I knew I didn’t want to just do what my Dad did. I wanted to have my own sound, and that’s why I gravitated towards semi-hollow guitars. That became the core sound for guitars, for my project.”

The whole process took three years, with Wolfgang working with his EVH Gear colleagues Matt Bruck and resident master luthier Chip Ellis on the new design.

EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

To coin a phrase, it had to be the best of both worlds between the classic semi-hollow archetype, and the high-performance playability and sound that EVH Gear – and the player who founded it – is famous for. And when there is nothing quite like that on the market you’ve got to imagine it into existence.

That’s a heavier lift. But it also gave Wolfgang and the EVH team to not only design a new guitar design in its own right, but to embed a couple of tributes to Eddie Van Halen along the way.

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

“The desire there was to put together an instrument that didn’t exist yet, which merged the beauty and wonderful warm tones of a classic semi-hollow guitar but with the performance style and neck that EVH Gear is known for,” he says. “I think my favourite part is the E-hole. I think most semi-hollows are known for having the F-hole, and obviously, SA-126, that’s my father’s birthday, and then an E for Ed, an E-hole instead of an F-hole.”

So that’s the story behind the SA-126. Now it has been unveiled today, what do we have?

Well, there are officially two models here. The SA-126 Standard has a chambered mahogany body with an all-important centre block of basswood to stop unwanted feedback and squeals. Given the high-gain tones WVH prefers, that is the smart move. There is also a SA-126 Special Quilted Maple edition, which has a quilted-maple top and multi-ply binding for a little extra luxury.

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

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EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126
EVH Gear Wolfgang Van Halen Signature SA-126

Unusually for a semi-hollow but in keeping with most of the EVH Gear lineup, the SA-126 has a bolt-on neck, which is mahogany, features a scarf joint and is fashioned into an EVH-modified C profile.

There’s an ebony fingerboard, with an on-brand (i.e. shreddable) 12” to 16” compound radius, seating 22 jumbo frets. The scale length is 24.75” and we’ve got a harmonica style bridge and a stop-bar tailpiece.

Having designed an all-new guitar it made sense to go the whole hog and get Fender’s electric guitar pickup guru Tim Shaw to wind them a a set of specially voiced SA-126 humbuckers to complement its semi-hollow build, and to give Wolfgang the output he needs for Mammoth WVH gig.

The SA-126 ships in a hard-shell guitar case (ivory vinyl with blue crushed velvet interior), and will ship in May 2024. Prices £1,449 to £1,499/$1,799 to $,1899. See EVH Gear for more details.