The VH-II, modernly called “bumbleblee” or “bee,” is one of Eddie’s most famous guitars and was initially featured on the VH-II album. The guitar had an ash body, maple Charvel/pre-pro neck, fender-style tremolo, and clear-bobbin Mighty-Mite pickup. The VH-II later had an early Floyd Rose prototype tremolo with some humbucker and neck changes as the years went by.
Prelude: Neck, Pickups, Tremolos.
Although there are fewer changes when compared to the Frankenstrat, the VH-II did have changes people often forget about. There are three different necks, five pickups, and three tremolo changes throughout the VH-II lifespan.
1977 Maple/Maple Boogie Bodies neck by Lynn Ellsworth. This neck was originally on the black/white incarnation of the Franknestrat and destroyed while attempting a Floyd Rose FRT-1 nut install for the VH-II.
This is the only known photo of this neck on the VH-II.
Unknown black humbucker when first received in fall of 1978.
Unknown zebra pickup during Europe tour. October, 1978.
Clear-bobbin Mighty Mite, as seen on VH-II album photoshoot.
Cream Dimarzio Super Distortion, as seen on 1979 Japan World Tour.
Unknown pickup seen disassembled in 1981.
Unknown black melted humbucker that’s believed to be the same cream PAF (melted) originally seen on the Frankenstrat in 1981. Ed used a sharpie marker to black out the pickup and rings. This photo is from 1993.
Fender Style tremolo during photoshoot and fall 1978 tour in Europe.
Mid-late 1980s German Floyd Rose (gold), as seen in 1992 Japanese photoshoot.
From the Beginning (Fall, 1978)
Ed recieves the black/yellow Charvel in the fall of 1978. Above is Karl Sandoval standing next to him, one of the supposed builders of the guitar.
The VH-II guitar is essentially a copy of Ed’s Frankenstrat while it was in its black/white incarnation: the stripe design on the front is nearly identical, Charvel body also made of ash, neck is a Boogie Bodies cut by Lynn Ellsworth/Grover Jackson, one hum/one volume configuration, vintage Fender-style tremolo. The main differences lies in the fact that the pickup was rear-loaded (no pickguard) and had a factory finish.
However, one major difference is the back of the neck is painted black, as shown above.
The VH-II Bee has an early Charvel logo on the headstock.
The first time VH-II is seen live is during an European tour in October 1978. Van Halen would support Black Sabbath and do their 1st headline show at the Rainbow Theatre in London.
VH-II Album Photoshoot (November 1978)
When the boys get back from destroying Europe, they take part in a photoshoot for their upcoming second album. Ed and the VH-II are featured on the inside sleeve on the back of the album.
For the photoshoot, Ed replaces the reverse-zebra humbucker with a clear-bobbin Mighty Mite.
Example of another clear-bobbin Mighty Mite.
1979: New neck, Floyd Rose FRT-1, Dimarzio Super Distortion
Ed installs an new “knotty headstock” Boogie Bodies neck, an all creme, Dimarzio Super Distortion (with a vintage PAF magnet) and a prototype Floyd Rose FRT-1.
The VH-II now sports the Floyd Rose FRT-1, the very first Floyd Rose ever given to Eddie and also the first prototype production Floyd Rose model ever created. Due to the unit being rushed, no chrome is on the tremolo. Therefore, the FRT-1 unit rusted very quickly. Also notice the cream Dimarzio Super Distortion.
The “Knotty” headstock Boogie Bodies neck with Floyd Rose FRT-1 locking nut. Notice the 1-5/8th locking nut sits on a 1-3/4th width. String retainer is probably brass.
In this ironic picture during the 1979 Japan World Tour, you see the VH-II sporting the Knotty headstock neck. Next to it is the Frankenstrat with the VH-IIs old Charvel black headstock neck!
Above you see a blood stain on the 10th fret, hence why the “Knotty neck” is also called the “10th fret/bloodstain” neck at times.
1980: No change
Although no parts were changed in 1980, above you see the Floyd Rose FRT-1 now significantly rusted due to the lack of chrome plating when the unit was received.
Notice how thin the Knotty headstock is.
The only known live footage of the VH-II is seen here at the Pink Pop Festival in Geleen, Holland: May 25, 1980.
Grover Jackson incident leads to VH-II retirement/dissembly
Ed played the VH-II on three world tours and seemed to use the guitar on the album “Women and Children First,” but Ed soon disbanded the VH-II guitar over frustrations and legal battles with Grover Jackson. Grover created Charvel VH-II clones without Eddie’s permission, the incident would deteriorate the Charvel relationship. Ed would eventually partner with Kramer Guitars in 1982, leading to the way to the largest guitar empire of the 1980s.
Above are examples of Charvel VH-II clones made by Grover Jackson in 1982, although he started making them earlier. This ultimately leading to a cease-and-desist by Eddie Van Halen which eventually ended the Charvel/Boogie Bodies/Ellsworth/Jackson relationship that originally sparked Eddie’s earliest and most famous guitars.
The VH-II is seen disassembled in 1981 next to Ed’s other various guitars. The rusted Floyd Rose FRT-1 is removed and the pickup is replaced. The Knotty neck is also removed. This is the last photo of the VH-II until a Japanese photoshoot in 1992.
1993: Last known sighting, various changes.
Above shows the last incarnation and sighting of the VH-II. It now features the Kramer Pacer strathead neck previously on the Frankenstrat in 1982, a gold German Floyd Rose, and an unknown black humbucker.
Kramer Pacer strathead neck, as seen on the Frankenstrat in 1982.
Same Kramer Pacer strathead neck, now on VH-II with black tape striping it.
Notice the German gold Floyd Rose with unknown black humbucker. The pick-up ring was originally creme, but Ed colored it black with a marker!
2004: VH-II gets buried with Dimebag Darrel
The VH-II guitar was buried with Dimebag Darrel, former guitarist of Pantera, in 2004. Dimebag, a huge Van Halen fan, met Eddie a few months prior and asked for a Charvel VH-II replica. Dimebag’s favorite Van Halen guitar was the VH-II. Upon hearing of Dimebag’s tragic death which involved a shooting at a club, Eddie attended Dimebag’s funeral with the actual VH-II guitar and placed it in Dimebag’s “KISS” Kasket donated by Gene Simmons.
Above shows the final resting place of the VH-II, resting peacefully in a KISS Kasket personally donated by Gene Simmons. It’s unknown what the VH-II looked like upon being placed in the coffin.
Above is Eddie talking at Dimebag’s funeral and taking a shot with Zakk Wylde (Former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist), another fellow guitarist and friend of Dimebag Darell.
Darrell Abbott’s funeral service took place at the Arlington Convention Center, and he was buried in the Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Texas.
Vinnie, Dimebag’s brother, died in 2018 and is resting next to Dimebag.
Check out the following articles discussing the Dimebag/Eddie relationship in more detail: