The Great Illustration That Accompanied Eddie Van Halen’s Application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (1987)

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.

via Brad­ford Peter­son & Boing Boing

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Some of Eddie Van Halen’s (RIP) Great­est Per­for­mances: “Shred­ding Was Eddie’s Very Essence”

15-Year-Old French Gui­tar Prodi­gy Flaw­less­ly Rips Through Solos by Eddie Van Halen, David Gilmour, Yng­wie Malm­steen & Steve Vai

Musi­cal Come­di­an Reg­gie Watts Rein­vents Van Halen’s Clas­sic, “Pana­ma”

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  • Ignatz says:

    As is the norm in this cul­ture, when some­body dies we imme­di­ate­ly for­get their douchy­ness in life. EVH was far from the first per­son to invent tapping…this tech­nique goes back at least as far back as to pub­lic per­for­mances by Dr Vit­to­rio Camardese in the ’40s.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.