Hands-On Review:Peavey EVH Wolfgang Quilt Top Special
Peavey EVH Wolfgang Quilt Top Special EXP
Running at the head of it's pack.
By Dink Ledden
I have a confession to make. When Musician's Friend sent me this guitar and I brought it forth from the plush confines of its protective sarcophagus, I had no idea it was a Korean-made model. I had it out of the case and was thoroughly enjoying its ripping combination of looks, hardware, and tone before I gave my man Bill Xavier at Peavey a call. We chatted for a few minutes and then he dropped the Asia bomb on me.
I was stunned for a minute, and then I was just cross with myself for being such an Americentrist. Korea has been building guitars for various manufacturers for over 30 years, which is plenty of time for their skill and quality to start to catch up with their Western guitar-building brethren. It only makes sense that they would now be producing such clearly excellent instruments as the one resting in my guitar-snob hands.
Certified grade-A rock machine
There's no doubt that this axe goes above and beyond most of the inexpensive signature model guitars being produced. Maybe Peavey put in overtime on the quality control or maybe it's just the Van Halen mojo that makes this guitar such a peach. I do know that as with every EVH guitar, Mr. Van Halen is very much involved in the specs, production, and finish. Suffice it to say that if it bears the EVH badge, it rocks.
This is a rock guitar, designed to be a pure player. It looks, feels, and sounds great.
Looks that kill
Eyeing this instrument up and down can cause serious lust and envy. The offset, mock double-cut body shape is not only distinctive but also very aesthetically appealing. The finish on the basswood body is smooth, but not too glossy. Even if it was sparkle-coated it couldn't distract from the guitar's main visual attraction: a well-figured flat quilt top masterfully detailed with natural wood binding. I didn't test this theory, but I'd be willing to bet the distinctive whorls and deep lines running through the maple really pop out under some hot stage lights.
I love the visual balance of the light maple neck (Edward's preference) and the body color. The sleeping-rosebud, black-finished headstock atop the 25.5"-scale neck has the same scooped-relief at the tip as all the other Wolfgangs.
A performance tool
All the incredible hardware utilized lends performance-savvy appeal. Most of the features you see on a USA Wolfgang Flametop are here with a few minor exceptions. For instance, this model doesn't have an angled headstock. No matter, though—the locking nut more than makes up for it. With a locking nut, you really don't need premium tuners such as Grovers; but it shows that Peavey didn't skimp even in areas where they might have without noticeable detriment.
The Peavey/Floyd Rose-licensed tremolo is incredibly smooth and came set up with the back resting just against the body, which is perfect for Floyd Rose trem like this one. I'd recommend that you follow Peavey's lead and always set it up like this. It makes tuning and playing a cinch.
Speaking of tuning, the Special also includes the D-Tuna factory-installed on the low E-string just below the tremolo. Just a bump-and-rub with the side of your hand and you're chugging out D-tuned riffs and chords. A light pop with your palm puts you right back in E range, without missing a beat.
Here comes the meat
The pickups included on this guitar feature the same zebra cover, ceramic magnets, and wiring as on its EVH comrades, which means it's one hot guitar. It gives great treble and tremendous bite without ever sounding thin. Often pickups sacrifice brilliance, dynamics, and tone to achieve "fatness" that extends all the way into the upper range, but that's not the case here. You'll find plenty of thick sounds and sweet harmonics all the way up and down the neck.
A single volume knob and three-way pickup selector on the upper horn are all the controls you get. And to be honest, they're all you need. As a matter of fact, rumor has it that Edward wanted the original Wolfgang to exclude the tone control, but Peavey insisted that it have one. For those who simply can't stand the idea of not being able to adjust the tone on their guitar: whaddya think the preamp and EQ section on your amp is for?
The pickup selector yields a surprising amount of variation in the output anyway. I found myself favoring the neck and middle settings, but the bridge pickup is awesome for stinging lead tone and perfect single-note enunciation.
The rubber hits the road
The smooth, natural-feeling neck is an absolute dream to play, with the exact same dimensions as the top-end EVH guitars. The asymmetrical shape might seem odd to those accustomed to C- or V-shaped necks, but a couple trips up and down the fingerboard are all it takes before you're comfortable.
One of the nicer features of this setup is the offset four-bolt neck joint with a slightly sculpted heel. It's not a true sculpted joint, but sliding up to the angle of the heel feels comfortable and gives a bit more freedom above the twelfth fret.
Continuing a heritage
There's no need to worry that you're missing out on anything if you purchase one of these guitars. This guitar is dynamic, playable, and full of awesome tone, perfect for anyone itching to get their hands on a real EVH rock weapon.