Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience on Thursday, and he revealed the secret to how Eddie Van Halen records guitar solos. Alternative Nation reporter Mike Mazzarone transcribed his comments.
“When we moved to more channels in recording, when Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded all their early stuff as A-Track and you had to double up. With early Van Halen it was the same thing. You had to compile your tracks or whatever, you had to really walk in with your solo written and play until it really had a thing [Dave raises his voice to emulate increased crescendos].
Once there were many tracks, guys would just wing it and go OK, let’s try one, [simulated noise], OK, that’s great, let’s try it again. Track two and they would just make it up as they go. Then when it’s time to mix, i’ll put a little of track two in a little of track six and start moving those channels in a way that you’d never think to play the guitar. For example Ed [Eddie Van Halen] started doing that for a couple of tracks. Original solos, Runnin’ With The Devil, [simulated noise]. OK. These are thematic solos. Most Beatles solos? Thematic solos.
Listen to the solo in Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love, [simulated solo] these are thematic solos. When it goes [simulated weird solo], like this, you would record six different versions of the solos and would just start moving the channel. Turn this one on, turn this one off, turn this one on, turn this one off. After that, he would have to go learn the solo. So you’ll see his hand move from down here to up here to back down again. It became a gymnastic effort, more elbow and shoulder to get his hand from the far end of the fret board to all the way to the pick up and back to duplicate that approach to making solos. So it was a very unique way of creating a solo.”
He added, “It was utilizing the digital future, multi-tracking and improvising. As opposed to I’m gonna sit down, and I’m just going to create something, like a book. Here is the beginning, here is the scene, here are the characters and here is the conflict. Instead, let’s just mix that all up in interesting ways.”