Eddie Van Halen Literally Patented His Signature Finger-Tap Guitar Solo

In 1985, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was granted patent no. 4656917 for a “musical instrument support"

October 7, 2020 1:52 pm
Eddie Van Halen: Rock Star, Guitar God, US Patent Holder?
Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen performs at Shoreline Amphitheatre in 2004.
Getty Images

A year after hosting the most debaucherous party of the year over a weekend in Detroit as part of an MYV contest, Edward Lodewijk “Eddie” Van Halen did something seemingly less befitting a gentleman of his rock-star status: filed an application with the U.S. Patent office.

After filing his application in 1985, Van Halen — who died yesterday at the age of 65 following a battle with throat cancer — was granted U.S. patent No. 4656917 for a “musical instrument support.”

Van Halen’s patented support system was designed to allow a musician to place their instrument perpendicular to their body via a plate resting on the leg which would leave “both hands free to explore the musical instrument as never before.”

Designed for use with guitars, banjos, mandolins, the supporting device was intended to be “constructed and arranged for supporting the musical instrument on the player to permit total freedom of the player’s hands to play the instrument in a completely new way, thus allowing the player to create new techniques and sounds previously unknown to any player.”

Translation: the strap essentially provided a pedestal upon which Eddie V. could lay down those pyrotechnic two-handed fingertap solos that were among his many, many virtuosic signatures.

While Van Halen’s patent acknowledges various types of support straps had previously been devised, it points out those straps don’t serve the purpose of leaving both hands of the guitar player free to explore the guitar.

“Accordingly, there remains as unsolved need for a universally acceptable device for stringed musical instruments of the type having a body and fretted neck, suitable both for supporting and positioning the instrument for better viewing of the playing surface and leaving both of the musician’s hands free to explore the musical instrument while the musician is standing,” according to the patent.

Though certainly not as cool as Van Halen’s musical instrument support or the accompanying black-and-white diagram, the late rocker also holds patent No. 388117 for a guitar peghead, a device that’s designed to help the instrument’s strings hold tension.

Van Halen, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, released four albums between 1979 and 1982 that all went multi-platinum.

As the patent for Van Halen’s musical instrument support was filed three years after the last of the four albums was released, it seems unlikely the biggest guitar god of the ’80s used his creation during the recording process — probably because he didn’t actually need it to wail like a banshee.

Tap on Eds.

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