Smithsonian Displays Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein Replica” Guitar

Instrument now on view at National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

"Frank 2": Now on display at the Smithsonian

Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein Replica” guitar was recently acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and is now on display there in the National Treasures of Popular Culture exhibition.

The “Frankenstein Replica” or “Frank 2” was made in 2006 as part of a joint venture between Eddie Van Halen and Fender to produce a limited edition number of the iconic guitars for the EVH brand. The guitar collected by the Smithsonian was used by Eddie Van Halen while on tour in 2007.

The story behind the original instrument is that, in 1975, Eddie Van Halen realized that no existing guitar had the features he needed to create his signature sound. A constant tinkerer, he set out to construct a guitar to fit his standards, needs and playing style; combining different elements of long-established guitar designs into one instrument. Fans nicknamed the custom creation “Frankenstein,” and by 2006 it had been in service for more than 30 years and was retired from performances.

Chip Ellis, a master guitar builder at Fender, then replicated every detail of the original guitar, which, when presented to Eddie Van Halen, appeared to be indistinguishable from the original. During the Van Halen 2007-08 North American tour with original lead singer David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen used the replica guitar—dubbed “Frank 2”—for the majority of the performances.

“The museum collects objects that are multidimensional, and this guitar reflects innovation, talent and influence,” said museum director Brent Glass. “The guitar moves the museum’s instrument collections into more contemporary history.”

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history.