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Eddie Van Halen would approve: “Eruption” played on an electric violin.

Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” is a rare thing: a guitar solo that’s also a standalone melodic piece. Slotting it as the second track on Van Halen’s debut album between “Running with the Devil” and “You Really Got Me” took real balls. I’ve seen it rated as the most difficult thing to play on an electric guitar, ahead of Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing.”

Check out this performance from Nina DiGregorio. An electric guitar? No. An electric violin. WOW. She writes on X:

My journey to learn Eruption began a few years ago, when I only had access to a 5-string fretless violin. I learned a small bit of it, and quickly realized that I would need to compromise the octave range, and the finger tapping in order to perform it. There are a few covers out there of violinists doing just that, and they are very impressive.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I did not want to do that. I wanted to sound like Eddie. Thus began my journey with the 7-string fretted violin. Pretty much the entire reason for having this instrument custom-made (thanks Wood Violins crew!) was to see if I could play Eruption. At the time of purchase, I wasn’t even sure if it would be physically possible to do the finger tapping, even with the new instrument.

Upon its arrival, my first task was to learn how to play the darn thing- it’s like a completely different instrument, the neck is huge, I am tiny, and the low strings are super thick. (I also had to buy a special bow to properly play it). If your bow arm falters by a millimeter, you will hit the surrounding strings. Once I had this part somewhat down, I knew I had to dive into the hardest part right away- to answer the question, “but will it tap?” I began with transcribing this beast of a solo into notation. If you play guitar, and you want to learn how to play pretty much anything, you can go to YouTube and find slow note for note tutorials on EXACTLY how to do so. This doesn’t exist for trying to translate guitar things to a violin. You’re on your own.

I tried it out with my normal rig. Pretty much dead sound. Nothing happening but noise. I had a few ideas for specialty pedals. Since you can’t really go to the store and try pedals any more, I bought one, it didn’t work, shipped it back, bought a different one, didn’t work, shipped it back, etc. ad nauseam. Months went by. It seemed for every step forward I took in achieving this technique, I took two steps back with new problems. For months, my poor family listened to what sounded like a train wreck falling on top of a car wreck falling off the Empire State Building. Brody even said to me, “it ain’t gonna happen.” So I locked myself away until it did.

I struggled and fought the limitations of the instrument. I had some hard practice days, but the best motivation for me is “it can’t be done.” It took a combination of newly learned left and right hand technique, played precisely, practiced slowly for clarity, FOREVER to even make the right sound. The spaces that you need to hit, quickly, on a fretted violin are much smaller than that of a guitar. I tweaked the effect chain and technique right up until the 11th hour on the very final day of doing this. One day near the end of it, I was practicing in the studio and Brody was taking a shower. When he got out, he said to me he thought I was playing the recording of Van Halen. That was my breakthrough day. I knew I was close.

I haven’t worked this hard since my masters recital on classical violin. I’ve ripped up my fingers to shreds, they bled, they blistered.

Eddie Van Halen was in a class all of his own. His sound, technique, rhythm, and musicality changed the game for all guitarists (and this electric violinist) that followed. I am a far better performer, a far better violinist, with a much larger range of abilities, thanks to the months (or years) I put into dissecting his style and taking the time to do this on a violin as close to how he did it (so effortlessly) on a guitar as possible. Thank you, EVH, for making so many of us better musicians. ❤️🤍🖤

Here it is. Love her EVH oufit, too.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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