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The EVH Wolfgang USA Custom Set Neck can best be described as a hair metal lead guitarist dressed up in a tuxedo and top hat. At its core, it’s a high-performance guitar like any other Wolfgang. But through a mix of upgrades, the guys at EVH have added a touch of refinement previously unseen in these guitars. From the set mahogany neck with ebony fretboard to the covered pickups to the inlay work and overall construction, everything on this Wolfgang is just a notch above (including the weight). We put on our tiger-striped spandex and our best monocle and top hat and tested out a cherry sunburst model to see what this mix of two worlds could do.
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The Wolfgang USA Custom has the same neck profile, 24.75” scale length, and fingerboard radius as the normal Wolfgang, and anyone who was a fan of the neck on the old Peavey Wolfgang is going to love it. With an overall small feel and the very comfortable asymmetrical Wolfgang profile, the neck has a nice roundness to it without being overly clunky. The asymmetrical Wolfgang back shape is very subtle, subtle enough that many players probably wouldn’t even notice it, but it’s there.
The ebony fingerboard has a compound radius going from 12” at the nut to 16” at the 22nd fret, making the neck on the Wolfgang as comfortable for chording as it is for blistering leads and big bends. One of the best features on this neck is the stainless steel frets. Stainless steel fret wire is much, much more durable than standard fret wire, meaning that the life of the frets on the Wolfgang is significantly longer than you’d get with standard frets. The harder fret material also contributes a bit of brightness to the overall tone.
If you’re a fan of fast play, you’ll love this neck. After all, it’s the brain child of Eddie Van Halen. But this guitar is absolutely not a one trick pony, and it certainly isn’t stuck in the “shred guitar” box. While you can definitely rip up the neck on the Wolfgang, it really is a very comfortable profile for all types of play, and players who spend most of their time with their thumb wrapped around the top of the fretboard playing chords will probably still love it.
The main downside to this guitar is the weight. This is one heavy mother. This might not necessarily seem like a playability issue, but it is, because if you’re using this guitar in a live setting while standing, you’re going to feel it. You Les Paul players are probably balking at this, but believe me, this sucker weights a ton. Keep in mind that part of the reason for that is that the body is really quite thick, and that big old slab of mahogany is definitely contributing to the tone. Just be warned, it’s a very heavy guitar.
The Wolfgang has a pair of EVH Wolfgang Custom nickel plated humbuckers, mounted with pickup rings rather than the customary EVH direct mount. These humbuckers sound great, and they’re really nicely matched. The bridge pickup is hot and dirty and gives you exactly the sound you’d expect from Eddie Van Halen. The guy has used quite a few different pickups over the years, and while it’s definitely true that his sound comes more from his choice of amps than any particular pickup, if you’re looking for that Ed lead tone, the bridge pickup on the Wolfgang is a pretty damn good place to start.
The neck pickup has a sweeter, smoother tone, but it still has a bit of aggression to it. It isn’t as calm as say a Gibson ’57 Classic. With the tone rolled back, it delivers a really nice, smooth, creamy tone without being thin. With the tone knob all the way up, you still get a nice sweet tone, but if you dig in a bit you can still get some bite. Those tone knobs by the way are high-friction, meaning once you dial in your tone the way you like, you’re not going to accidentally roll it to something different while playing. The volume knobs are the opposite, offering low friction to allow them to be easily rolled up and down with your pinky.
From a tone wood perspective, this guitar is the picture of balance. The body is a massive chunk of mahogany (which as noted helps it double as an anchor if need be), capped with a ½” maple top. That maple top, combined with the ebony fingerboard, adds brightness and help balance out the tonal characteristics of all that mahogany. Instead of the Floyd you might expect, the Wolfgang USA Custom has a tune-o-matic bridge and a fine-tuning stop tail piece. That set-up, combined with all that body mass, means excellent sustain.
Make no mistake, the EVH Wolfgang USA Custom is a very well built guitar. Pumped out at the Fender shop in California, these guitars make use of very high quality materials, from the woods to the hardware, and are built with precision. And they’d better be, because they certainly aren’t cheap! The model we tested had literally zero flaws. It was set up perfectly right out of the case, and was ready to go with just a quick tuning.
The body on the Wolfgang USA Custom is mahogany with a ½” maple top. The set neck is mahogany with a very nice ebony fingerboard and nice big mother of pearl trapezoid inlays. Inside the neck there are two graphite support rods, making it very rigid and stable, perfect for Canadian winters. The hardware is mostly “EVH brand”, as are the pickups, but don’t worry, it’s all really good quality stuff, just with Ed’s initials stuck on. The fine tuning tail piece is a really nice touch, allowing for much more minute adjustments than you’ll get at the headstock.
Let’s face the facts, this is a very expensive guitar, and for a fraction of the price, you can get a lot of the same features and playability in the normal USA Wolfgang, or even in the Wolfgang special. However, that being said, for the price you pay, you really do get a lot of guitar. Everything about this guitar is high end, and it easily delivers the same level of quality (or more) as the other big players do at a similar price point. If you’re just looking for a workhorse guitar, a standard Wolfgang might be a better choice. But if you’ve got the budget, and you’re looking for something that takes the playability and function of the normal Wolfgang and adds a bit more class, and a bit more luxury, the Wolfgang USA Custom Set Neck is definitely worth a look.
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Click to Buy at LAMusic.ca: $3599.99 - 3799.99 CAD