The Story of the Wolfgang Hollow Body Guitar
Someone at Peavey had an idea for a new flavor of the Wolfgang. They thought it would be cool to see what a hollow body Wolfgang might turn out like. In the true spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that Peavey is known for they decided to build one. They built a bolt on neck prototype with a quilted maple top and back in Sunburst. They carved the holes in the top in the shape of the “f” in Wolfgang (nice touch!). They gave it a matching headstock and ebony fretboard (no dots) and of course it had Wolfgang pick-ups. It was a labor of love. Now granted, a hollow body guitar isn’t what every Wolfgang player probably wanted, but it wasn’t a mass appeal idea. It was likely a way to capture a new market by leveraging Peavey’s most successful guitar line. They were trying stuff, which is how new ideas and products come to life.
When the guitar was completed they (the builders) loved it, but felt they could do better in getting the true hollow body sound. Someone higher up didn't like the "f" cut outs in the Wolfgang style (I personally loved them) so they did away with those. They were not yet ready to show others at Peavey their creation. So they set this guitar aside and made two more. These next two were set necks instead of a bolt on neck, and the necks were finished mahogany instead of the oiled birdseye necks on the Wolfgang bolt on. The top and back were flame maple and the fretboard was again ebony, this time with pearl dots. They made a few adjustments in the design and these two turned out just the way they wanted them. They sent one to Meridian to show what they had done and kept one in Leakesville.
While likely expecting some ooohs and ahhhhs, it didn’t turn out this way. Peavey was always having a hard time keeping EVH happy and EVH wasn’t into change when it came to his guitars, at least not unless it was his idea. So when they saw this guitar in Meridian somebody wasn't happy. The story goes that somebody said “you can’t show this to Ed”! They were afraid based on past experience that he would lose it if he saw the guitar. So the custom shop was directed to destroy the hollow body guitars and that they never be shown to EVH (or so the story goes).
So you are the guys who just created these beautiful works of art. Not only are you a little dejected because you didn't get the reaction you were hoping for, but somebody got upset Worse yet you are asked to destroy them. You might as well ask Leonardo Da Vinci to destroy the Mona Lisa. I can promise you there is no way I would have ever been able to destroy those guitars. After being taken to the dumpster they were rescued shortly thereafter. Of course they couldn’t do anything with them publicly because they were not supposed to exist. So they sat until eventually someone decided they should be part of my collection. Who was I to argue! That is how I ended up with these two gorgeous, unique guitars.
You may wonder what happened to a third one that was sent to Meridian (2nd set neck) as I did. It was eventually stripped of its hardware in Meridian and set aside in a corner somewhere. Although, it was a little beat up and had a thick coat of dust on it when it was later discovered, it was able to be restored, which it was by a Peavey employee who couldn't stand to see it like that. So it was salvaged. This particular guitar had special pick-ups wound for it the 2nd time around and there is a coil tap switch. Originally it was like the other one that I have.
To the best of my knowledge Eddie Van Halen was never shown or told about the hollow body Wolfgangs. So unless he is checking out my site (doubtful) he has no idea these guitars exist. It is cool to have a type of Wolfgang that Ed has never seen or played. He is free to come over and check it out (maybe even play it), but no smoking in the house!
I couldn’t show or talk about these guitars publicly until now because I didn’t want to create any problems for anyone at Peavey from the Custom Shop, but since all of the people associated with actually building these guitars and later salvaging them have now left Peavey, it isn’t like anyone is going to get in trouble over it!
I almost forgot….. you probably wonder what they play and sound like. First, they play fantastic. Best feeling hollow bodies I have come in contact with, not that I have played very many. They feel like….. well like a Wolfgang! The bolt on has the same neck so why wouldn’t it? Neither guitar is the classic hollow body. I personally believe they sound best with the neck pick-up. They have a very sweet zone and a unique sound. However, they are not overly versatile. A friend of mine who is a much better guitar player than me came over and tried them. He made them sound beautiful. I gained a new appreciation for them that day. The set neck probably sounds a little better but I like the feel (almost a toss up) of the bolt on better, probably due to the oil finished birdseye neck rather than the finished neck. They are both gorgeous instruments. The bolt on sunburst is truly one of a kind, and the set neck is too, although the other one that was restored is very similar.
I doubt these guitars would have made it in the market and were probably too expensive to produce for the Custom Shop. I don't really know. That is just my personal opinion. Maybe a Ted Nugent version of this guitar would have been cool. If EVH would have seen it, loved it and played it live then it might have caught on, but otherwise a hollow body guitar isn't exactly what you think of when you think of a VH guitar. Peavey probably did the right thing by shelving this idea, but they are still awesome guitars and I feel pretty lucky to have them. You got to keep trying stuff and this guitar is good evidence that Peavey is always doing just that!