Famous Rock Guitars Part 2

Lets continue browsing through famous guitars. In Part 1 we had a guitars owned by Brian May and Willie Nelson.

George Harrison and Eddie Van Halen’s guitars

Today we will visit two more….George Harrison‘s Strat “Rocky” and Eddie Van Halen‘s “Frankenstrat”

Today we will start off with one of my favorite guitars for obvious reasons…and then Frankenstrat below Rocky.


When The Beatles were in the studio recording “Help!“, John Lennon and George Harrison sent roadie Mal Evans out to go get a couple of Fender Stratocasters.   Evans came back with matching 1962 Sonic Blue Strats. You can hear both of these guitars on Rubber Soul…especially both playing the solo on Nowhere Man in unison.

George Harrison: “During ’67, everybody started painting everything,” “and I decided to paint it. I got some Day-Glo paint, which was quite a new invention in them days, and just sat up late one night and did it.”

Harrison used some of his ex-wife Patti Boyd’s nail polish to paint the headstock. George played the guitar that year in the Beatles’ live performance of “All You Need Is Love” on the around the world satellite feed called Our World, the first global satellite TV program, and in the film Magical Mystery Tour, in the segment where the Beatles mime to “I Am the Walrus”

In 1969-1970 on the advice of the great slide guitar player Ry Cooder George set Rocky up for slide only.

George Harrison's Magical Mystery Tour Guitar (Pre 1969 Rocky) – Sometimes  I Get Bored

George Harrison “Rocky” Stratocaster Tribute | ChasingGuitars

The Harrison Estate still owns this guitar.

Following its announcement at NAMM 2020, Fender has now officially released its faithful recreation of George Harrison’s ‘Rocky’ Stratocaster…hmm I know exactly what I want for Christmas!

History of the Frankenstrat | My Frankenstrat Build


Eddie wanted to make a guitar that was a cross of a Gibson and Fender. To have the clean tone of a Fender and the ability to have the crunch of a Gibson.

In 1974 he visited Boogie Bodies guitars, whose parts were used on early Charvels, and bought himself a factory second unfinished body and neck, paying total of $130. The body he bought was the first one he saw laying around in the store, but he paid close attention to choosing the right neck – he looked for a wide neck with a really thin profile and big Gibson-style frets.

He painted the body black and wrapped masking tape around it and repainted the body white.  He installed a  Fender tremolo from a 1958 Stratocaster, Schaller tuners, and a Gibson PAF pickup from an old ES-335 which he dipped into paraffin wax in order to get rid of the feedback.

He played the guitar on Van Halen’s first album, and during the band’s first tour. Towards the end of the tour, the guitar was changed to feature a white pickguard and a rosewood neck.

He later changed out necks and hardware and painted it red with bicycle paint.

Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat on a Pillowcase: Hell Yeah!

Frankenstrat  was donated to the Hard Rock Cafe in 2004. In 2017 Frankenstrat had been stolen from the walls of the city’s Hard Rock Cafe but returned later.

NAMM 2020 Video: First look at the Fender George Harrison Rocky Stratocaster


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

44 thoughts on “Famous Rock Guitars Part 2”

  1. This is a great second installment of your excellent new series, Max. Isn’t it crazy that Harrison added all that extra paint onto his Strat and then, a few years later, stripped the body of his Epiphone Casino down to bare wood?!? I was wondering who the guy is hold the Rick 12-string in picture with George? Looking forward to the next chapter in this series!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, both are really interesting stories behind the guitars. I love the way George’s looks. I saw a great coffee table book at B&N that was just big photos of guitars through the ages. At times I’ve thought if I somehow was really rich, one extravagance I’d think of would be collecting cool looking guitars to display… and I don’t even play!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know what you mean. Some things are like works of art. You know a weird thing that I like? Tractors…NO I don’t own one nor live on a farm…but those from the40s and 50s are like works of art…a buddy of mine collects them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When working at the pro camera shop , one customer was a leading auto journalist. A woman , which was uncommon for the field. Anyway, she & her husband loved old tractors & had a few antique ones. (I had priviledge of taking a ride in a Smart Car with her before they were even for sale in Canada…she got one to review in advance!)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I love those little cars…I’m a small car guy. The Mini Cooper I had looked huge beside a Smart Car… I have driven my buddies Ford 1954 tractor…they were so smart on how they configured it…everything was metal and most orginal parts!!! No plastic.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah I read alot about EVH guitar Max. My younger Bro played guitar and when I was living at home I used to get him Guitar World and Guitar For The Practicing Musician every Xmas as gifts.
        I knew the backstory on Ed but not george

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok man. I made it in large type now…I want to make sure people would see two of them.

        That is cool what you done for your brother man… You played bass right?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going to have to ask my brother in law if he got to play Rocky. He works with Dhani Harrison (George’s son) who did a documentary on his dad and had artist come in and play George’s guitars. Someone had to tune them all up and that someone was my BIL. He said it was totally surreal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow…that may be the holy grail of Beatle guitars. Dhani looks and sounds so much like George.
      When you do let me know…that guitar has so much history in it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t either…I didn’t know he painted it red…I mean they call the red one is Frankenstat II but it’s the same body…I had no clue it was the same one as the black and white.

      What surprised me most is I had more comments on the Harrison guitar…I thought I would get more Van Halen hits…or it seemed that way

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Max. Even though I’m not exactly the engineering type, I just dig that stuff. The video clips you included are really fun.

    Believe it or not, I didn’t know the background story about Rocky!

    As for the Frankenstrat, it’s really mind-boggling how this guitar builder from Fender created a replica only based on photos of the original. And how Eddie felt the replica sounded better than his own guitar!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t know anything about Eddie’s guitar at all. That is something that he did it with photos. He was constantly changing the thing. I have an Epiphone Strat that has that Fender-Gipson sound.

      Rocky is cool…I would love to play it once.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. So I gather your taste is not psychedelic lol…I can’t believe he didn’t repaint it…Its pretty cool though that he didn’t because of the history.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was reading about George’s SG today actually. Listening to revolver earlier…the guitars on she said sounded incredible. Didn’t realise it was a SG into a vox AC30 (probably)…sounds a little tone bender-like to me as well but don’t think they were around then. There’s something else going on with the sound. Perhaps the fairchild that they were using? Could it be time for Beatles Gear!!??

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He gave that SG to Pete Ham of Badfinger…There is one book called Beatles Sessions that say some things about the gear.


      3. Yes I read about the badfinger connection…think it was sold in the last few years though
        I may have that book in NZ…
        there’s another book, a bigger one, whose name escapes me…that is kind of like the bible of beatles sessions. Recording the beatles or something like that?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I see they have on just like the Stones…. Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio


  5. Am enjoying this series and knew some of that stuff about Rocky but not all. I am really interested in how he painted Clapton’s face to look like a clown. EVH did make some good sounds with his Frankencaster! They wouldn’t say how much those guitars are going for but said already all sold. I hope at least a few of them actually get played instead of sitting on a stand in someone’s home museum.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad the Harrison family still has George’s guitar…Eddie had so many guitars that he played that I’m not sure what happened to the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

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