The EVH Shark Guitar actually doesn't sound that bad
Enough time has passed where the hype is over and I can now talk about this.
Let's get one thing out of the way right up front about the EVH Striped Series Shark. It's ugly. Really, really ugly. Most guitar players wouldn't be caught dead with this thing (maybe that's why it's easy to find open-box examples of the guitar?) The only people who actually like this guitar are guitarists who love Van Halen. Aside from them and only them, all anyone sees with this is a really fugly guitar.
It was highly speculated that this guitar would sound like total crap based on what Eddie Van Halen himself said about the original build. Specifically, he said the turnbuckles (those suspended metal things at the rear) absolutely ruined the sound of the guitar, yet we see them in full glory anyway on the Shark.
This guitar in all honesty actually doesn't sound that bad. Many thought it would sound tinny and overly jangly. It doesn't. The worst complaint you could give the guitar tone-wise is that it actually sounds "dark" - but I think it was voiced that way very much on purpose.
According to the EVH Gear web site, the pickups are "EVH Wolfgang w/metal braid wire" for their respective positions, both with pickup rings instead of direct-mount seen on other EVH Striped models like the 5150. It's usually true that anyone who owns a Shark also owns a 5150, and from what I can tell, how the pickup is mounted really doesn't affect the tone of the guitar at all.
The truth of this guitar's tone is...
...modern guitar effects can make any electric guitar sound like a million bucks.
Back in the day, Eddie didn't have guitar modeling technology. He also didn't have access to what we have today, that being hundreds of options for hand wired, hand crafted boutique guitar effect pedals and amplifiers.
Even if the Shark did sound like absolute ass (which it doesn't), all it would take to make it sound right is modeling and/or boutique effects and/or boutique amps to make it sound perfect.
The last reason you buy a Shark is for tone, as the guitar is all about appearance first and foremost. Achieving that supposed Van Halen "brown sound" isn't nearly as impossible as it used to be.
Getting the brown sound with yesteryear tech was very difficult and I don't deny that. But we have the modeling and boutique gear today to get the brown sound fairly easily these days.
I'm 100% convinced it's modern tone shaping gear that can make a Shark sound good today. That and a good ability to do finger tapping since that's a Van Halen thing.
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