Why did Eddie Van Halen put a quarter on his guitar?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Eddie Van Halen was known for his innovative and creative approach to playing the guitar, and his use of the quarter on his guitar is just one example of his ingenuity. The placement of the 1971 quarter on his guitar served two main purposes – to keep the Floyd Rose bridge flush with the body and to reflect stage lights onto the crowd.

The Floyd Rose bridge is a type of tremolo bridge that allows guitarists to manipulate the pitch of notes by raising or lowering the bridge. This feature is particularly useful for techniques like dive bombs and vibratos. However, when Eddie would drop tune his guitar during live performances, the tension on the strings would change, causing the bridge to tilt forward. This not only affected the overall tuning stability but also made it difficult for Eddie to perform certain techniques accurately.

To counter this problem, Eddie came up with a simple yet effective solution – he placed a 1971 quarter underneath the Floyd Rose bridge. The thickness of the quarter compensated for the change in tension caused by drop tuning, keeping the bridge flush with the guitar body. This allowed Eddie to maintain proper tuning stability and execute his technical guitar playing with precision.

In addition to its functional purpose, the quarter also served a visual purpose. Eddie attached truck reflectors to the rear of the guitar body, and when he flipped the guitar over during performances, the stage lights would reflect off the reflectors and onto the crowd. This created a visually stunning effect, adding to the overall visual spectacle of Van Halen’s live shows.

The use of the quarter and truck reflectors showcased Eddie’s attention to detail and his desire to create a unique and memorable experience for the audience. It demonstrated his willingness to think outside the box and find creative solutions to technical challenges. Moreover, it became a signature element of his guitar setup and contributed to his iconic image as a guitar virtuoso.

Personally, as a guitarist myself, I can appreciate the thought and creativity that went into Eddie’s decision to use a quarter on his guitar. It is a testament to his resourcefulness and willingness to experiment with different techniques and modifications. It also serves as a reminder that sometimes the simplest solutions can have a significant impact on one’s playing and overall performance.

Eddie Van Halen placed a 1971 quarter on his guitar to keep the Floyd Rose bridge flush with the body when drop tuning and to reflect stage lights onto the crowd. This innovative approach showcased his technical expertise and added a visually captivating element to his live performances.