Given the endless tone worship and shredding adulation Eddie Van Halen generates within the guitar community, it’s somewhat ironic that one of the band’s most recognizable sounds comes from a synth. But as a number one hit upon its release and a mainstay of sports arenas and karaoke bars in years since, “Jump” from Van Halen’s 1984 is about as classic as it gets—and it’s exactly where Reverb is pointing their spotlight in a recent installment in their “The Synths Sounds Of…” series.
“Jump” spent an impressive 8 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart and 5 weeks on the Top 100. You might be surprised to learn that the synth sound on “Jump” primarily uses a single key track, relying instead on multi-layered effects to make it sound much more elaborate than it is. That means “Jump,” despite its reliance on synth to set the tone, relies more on the band’s simple, raw roots than one would think.
Reverb’s William Kurk breaks it down on a modern Oberheim OB-6 keyboard (most sources say the original was performed on an OB-X in the studio, while the OB-Xa was used on tour). Running the composition through Bucket Brigade Delay and Chorus gives the rich, deep tone that makes “JUMP” ever-memorable.
For you digital enthusiasts, there are plugins you can run through your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), including the free DiscoDSP OB-Xd.