Throughout the past week, we’ve read many tributes to Eddie Van Halen and his endless capacity for innovation. Stylistically, EVH changed the sound of rock with tapping, a technique that let him play rapid arpeggios with two hands on the guitar’s fretboard. (Exhibit A is here.) Technically, he created a unique sound by fashioning his own guitar, the Frankenstrat, which melded the sounds of Gibson and Fender guitars. And what’s more, he patented three inventions, one of which came with the dazzling illustration above. Edward L. Van Halen’s 1987 patent for a “musical instrument support” was described as follows:
A supporting device for stringed musical instruments, for example, guitars, banjos, mandolins and the like… The supporting device is constructed and arranged for supporting the musical instrument on the player to permit total freedom of the player’s hands to play the instrument in a completely new way, thus allowing the player to create new techniques and sounds previously unknown to any player. The device, when in its operational position, has a plate which rests upon the player’s leg leaving both hands free to explore the musical instrument as never before. Because the musical instrument is arranged perpendicular to the player’s body, the player has maximum visibility of the instrument’s entire playing surface.
What would this device look like? The graphic above visualizes it all. Find the illustration in the patent application here.
Back in 2015, Van Halen wrote a piece in Popular Mechanics discussing his patents and other technical work on guitars and amps. For those who want to delve deeper into his tinkering, read the article here.
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