Eddie’s Bumblebee is one of the most iconic guitars to shape the face of modern guitar playing. Naturally, the red, black, and white stripes sear the imagination of all guitarists. Then again, the image of the Bumblebee on the back of 1979’s VHII fired the imagination of a young Darrell Abbott to become the hero we know as Dimebag.
For the sake of brevity, we are not going to get in to the lineage of the original Bumblebee. Of course, the pedigree is different. For now, this is going to be about the Bumblebee that you can currently find from the EVH Gear line of Striped Series guitars.
The Bumblebee that I have arrives totally unopened, without any fingers on it since it left the manufacturer. I think that’s cool, in as much as any issues go straight to the factory. Outlets that want to let their “techs” perform a onceover give me pause. A general “inspection” is fine, but just don’t tinker with things and muddy the water. LOL!
Out of the box
Out of the box, the guitar deftly ticks of the marks of the initial visual examination. Always a good start! HaHa!
From there, there is a little time given to a more thorough inspection with many of the nifty gadgets from the Tech Tips and Guitar Gadgets areas of the site. The notched straight edge to confirm neck relief. The nut slot gauge informs of 1st fret clearance specs. A fret rocker checks for level frets. And must-haves like a string action gauge and a machinist ruler fills in the final info.
And in all fairness, this Bumblebee comes set up pretty darned well straight from the factory. Like the lion’s share of players, there are generally a few tweaks to suit personal preference.
The Striped Series is fairly well-known for the tremolo spring tension being so tight as to keep the Floyd Rose firm against the deck. I’m a floating trem player. The way Floyd intends. LOL! Prior research tells me that there is enough play on the Striped Series to get the trem level and floating.
This is a great time to remove the blasted D-Tuna contraption. I know. Fanboys across the globe are aghast! HaHa! The case candy comes with the original size String Lock Screws, so it all looks as it should when done. But seriously, I’ve given the D-Tuna several tries on different guitars over the years. It’s just not my bag. If I do use a de-tuning device, it’s always the Tone Vise Pitch Shifter. Easy to install. Easy to use. So foolproof that even a guitar player can figure it out. LOL!
The Bumblebee body and neck are your typical strat-shape. Neat trick, considering EVH is part of Fender. HaHa! Eddie’s original was ash. This one is basswood, a wood that EVH gravitated toward for decades. Basswood is a bit on the lighter side, making it more comfortable to handle. With a reasonable balance across the tonal spectrum, basswood does tend to bring out some mids. Some players consider basswood to be a little more mechanically resonant, allowing a more open vibe and natural sustain.
And then I crack open the trem and the electronics cavities. The wood is relatively unsealed. There appears to be some grounding paint in the electronics compartment. And that might be a bit of the black basecoat in the trem cavity. But neither are sealed up with the glossy urethane finish. To me, the areas without the sealer seem to expose the grain a little and allow the instrument to breathe.
The bolt-on maple neck is a 25-1/5″ scale with 22 frets. The frets are described as “jumbo”. My measurements puts them between 6150 and 6100 sizings. A smidge big for my personal tastes, but not so much as to incite intonation issues. I found one fret to be slightly high, but not even enough to spend the time for a fret-leveling. Maybe if you’re a super low action shred demon. HaHa! Otherwise, it’s fine.
Truss adjustment is via the wheel at the base of the neck, right where a neck pickup will generally be. The FMIC brands (i.e., Fender, Charvel, Jackson, EVH) have been leaning in to this method. It’s fine by me, if it means I don’t have to pull a neck for a heel adjustment! LOL! It can also be a little easier to deal with than the nut adjustment. If you have a Floyd Rose, you already have the right size wrench to fit in the holes. So, BOOM!
Once tweaked in, the neck relief is darned solid. This neck has graphite reinforcement, much like the Jackson LE San Dimas SD22 does. This feature is pretty fun from the perspective of regular maintenance.
What would something from EVH Gear be without the Wolfgang pickup? Wanna see me enrage more fanboys? OK…. I’m not big on direct-mounting pickups! HaHa! Yep. It’s true. However… the Wolfgang in this Bumblebee is really free of any hassles. With the guitar all tweaked in and set up, the Wolfgang is at my preferred optimum height. That’s simple.
Since the Wolfgang needs no adjustments, there is no opportunity to see what’s happening in the pickup cavity. Which is to say that I do not know if the route is also left unfinished in similar fashion to the other cavities. If it means that much to you, buy one and yank it to find out! LOL!
It has a 500k Bourns pot. They call it “low friction”. Bourns is my potentiometer of choice, so it feels normal to me. HaHa! The harness has a treble bleed circuit. I have to say this is one of the rare instances where a treble bleed mod doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. From there, it’s out to a Switchcraft jack.
This is an EVH guitar. So of course it has a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system. This one is the Korean-made 1000 series and it is branded with the EVH logo.
As before, it comes with the trem claw in a fairly tight orientation to keep the tail of the baseplate on the deck. There are two trem springs, in full Eddie fashion. Technically speaking, with a the system in a blocked position, it will clearly come back to an orientation to promote in-tune performance. But yes, I am putting in a floating arrangement, while also going with a set of official Floyd Rose noiseless springs.
The tuners are an EVH-branded chrome affair that looks like your regular run-of-the-mill tuning machine.
How does it perform?
Like a champ.
Anyone that knows a super-strat style guitar is going to be right at home on this Bumblebee. The dimensions and shapes and curves are all familiar. The feel of the neck is quite natural with accouterments that make you feel like you’re in your favorite pair of sneakers for a jog around the block. The stable neck and the compound radius allows for a comfortably accessible action. It deftly navigates frantic riffing and slippery-smooth shredding.
The EVH Wolfgang pickup is a real clutch player that handles many eras of legendary rock tones. It mates with the guitar to deliver grunt and growl and attitude and finesse.
How about some specs?
Color: Black w/ Yellow Stripes
Body Material: Basswood
Bridge Pickup: EVH Wolfgang
Controls: 500k EVH Low Friction Volume Pot w/ Treble Bleed Circuit
Control Knob: Black Skirt style
Bridge: EVH branded Floyd Rose 1000 w/ D-Tuna
Nut Material: Floyd Rose R3 Locking
Nut Width: 1.6875″ (42.86 mm)
Hardware Finish: Chrome
Tuning Machines: EVH branded Gotoh
Headstock: Licensed Fender Stratocaster
Neck Material: Maple
Fingerboard Material: Maple
Neck Construction: Bolt-On w/ Graphite Reinforcement
Neck Finish: Hand-Rubbed Satin Urethane
Fingerboard Radius: 12″ – 16″ Compound Radius
# of Frets: 22
Fret Size: Jumbo
Position Inlays: Black Dot
Side Dots: Black
Truss Rod: Adjustment at Nut
Here’s the original Guitar World demo video
And while not the Bumblebee paint scheme, here is a GC demo of another one of the Striped Series. Same guitar. Different Paint.
Other companies are trying to cash in on the 80s vibe right now. Even to the point of practically plagiarizing what Eddie was bringing to the table all along. This example of the EVH Striped Series totally dominates at a reasonably similar price point. The Fender-esque features are what so many players are indoctrinated toward, making the Striped Series like a peas and carrots partnership with guitarists.
The one area of opportunity would have to be the limitations to upgrade the Floyd Rose. The space in the top of the guitar just barely allows for the standard sustain block size. Floyd Rose does offer the tungsten block, with the same dimensions and the standard block. Players wanting the thick brass block will be looking at some surgery on their guitar. With that being said, I do have to say the the performance and tone of the stock 1000 series is much more satisfactory that I was expecting. A way of suggesting that everything is aligning just right with the guitar the way that it already is.
For reference, this EVH Gear Striped Series Bumblebee guitar evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs in use are Marshall 1960B, Mojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.
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