From the July 2011 edition of Guitar World:
Search and Destroy
Lost Photos Tell The Story Behind Eddie Van Halen’s Ibanez Destroyer. By Chris Gill
Guitarists attempting to duplicate Eddie Van Halen’s elusive brown sound on Van Halen’s debut album have gone to great lengths to build replicas of his trademark black-and-white Frankenstein guitar, but many overlook the fact that Eddie recorded about half of the album with an Ibanez Destroyer. The fat, ballsy tone of this mid-Seventies Gibson Explorer copy is heard on “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “You Really Got Me,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” Feel Your Love Tonight” and “On Fire.”
The Destroyer allowed Ed to create sound effects that he couldn’t produce on the Frankenstein, such as the high-pitched metallic scrape on the “Runnin’ with the Devil” intro (performed by swiping the strings between the bridge and stop tailpiece) and the stuttering effect on the solo to “You Really Got Me” (produced by setting the neck pickup volume at “0” and flicking the pickup selector switch).
Eddie drastically modified his Destroyer shortly after recording Van Halen by cutting a large V-shaped chunk out of the body below the bridge. While Ed loved the guitar’s new look (nicknamed “the Shark”), the experiment adversely affected the guitar’s tone.
Recently unearthed color photos of Van Halen performing at the Starwood Night Club in Hollywood in January 1977- taken by noted rock photographer Marvin Rinnig- reveal that Ed had made minor modifications to the guitar before recording Van Halen. While the Destroyer shipped with a clear, light-amber finish that made its Sen (Japanese ash) body look like Korina, Ed had the body, neck and headstock painted white. He also replaced the Gibson-style “top hat” knobs with knobs from a Stratocaster and swapped the original chrome-plated bridge for a gold-plated unit. The chrome-covered pickups appear to be stock, which suggests that the secret to Van Halen’s sound was more about his fingers and not some magical Gibson PAF humbucker.