This website used to be up, but it's gone. Fortunately I saved it years ago, so I'll copy and paste it here:
Welcome to the Peavey Vandenberg Collector's Page. This web site is aiming at people who own, collect or just want to know more about the different Peavey Vandenberg electric guitar models. I am a Peavey Vandenberg-player and collector myself, and on this page I've tried my best to supply as much useful information on this subject as I possibly can. Anyhow, this page ain't perfect yet. Please check back as I will update this page in the future. Please feel free to contact me about corrections or details I might have missed out. This page is not made in collaboration with Adrian Vandenberg nor Peavey Electronics. Read and enjoy!
Back in 1988 Adrian started working with Peavey on the development of a new Signature model. Both he and band mate Rudy Sarzo had very nice experiences with Peavey amplifiers and effects processors, so Peavey was a natural choice for the manufacturing of the "Vandenberg Signature" guitar. (Eventually Peavey later made a line of bass guitars in collaboration with 4 string licker Sarzo.) Over the years Peavey had made very good instruments, but in the past their guitar models had rather unpleasant looks (to put it mildly). The Meridian Mississippi based musical instrument giant was urgently in need of a new guitar design. Adrian had always liked building and working on guitars, so he picked up the glove, and started working with the Peavey R&D team.
The Peavey Vandenberg Signature (1. edition) Contrary to other late 80's "super strats", you can tell it's a Vandenberg from miles away. It's obvious that this is a very special guitar. It seems like Adrian wanted to combine elements from his own favorite axes into one guitar, plus adding his own distinct design to it. The Vandenberg Signature has a medium weight poplar body with a slightly arched top and "fiddle cuts", which is a unique detail for this particular guitar. (Poplar has very much the same sound as alder.) It also has an extra carving on the lower cutaway (similar to ESP Horizon Custom) for easier reaching the highest frets.(The first prototype however, had this carving on the upper cutaway as well, like Hamer Californian.) The body is back routed, which eliminates the need of a pick guard to hide away the electronics. The first Vandenberg model was available in 3 different finishes: "gloss black", "sunfire red" and "rock-it pink". The neck is two piece laminated maple in a natural matte finish with a dark brown or black ebony fingerboard and bolted to the body with 4 screws through a square metal plate. It is also possible to adjust the neck tilt with a simple Allen wrench, which is a neat feature also found on some Fender guitars. The neck has a scale length of 24 3/4" (similar to a Gibson Les Paul, which makes string bending and complex fingerings much easier than on the traditional strat style scale, 26 1/3). The profile is a slightly flattened D shape; something between the early Kramer Barettas and the Ibanez JEMs. It fits well into an average fretting hand, and keeps the doctor away (Unless you start fooling around with books about so-called "isometric exercises for musicians"!!!). 24 medium sized silver nickel frets are snugly fitted into the fingerboard, and the position markers are regular pearl dots. I've also noted that the fingerboard is ever so slightly scalloped for easier hammer on/pull off techniques. The headstock is reversed (like on the Fernandes Adrian Vandenberg model), and has a graceful shape with a sculpted detail on the upper edge; almost like tiny steps ( ! ). It has a 3 degree tilt for better sustain and 6 sealed Schaller or Grover tuners on the lower side. Unlike the rest of the neck, it has the same finish as the body on the front side with a large "Vandenberg" signature along the machine heads, and a small Peavey logo on top of the headstock.(On the first 2 prototypes it's lettered "Adrian Vandenberg" in an elegant font.) The rear side of the headstock bears the serial # and the lettering: "US PATENT NO. 4 .237 .944". The truss rod is located under a black Plexiglas cover behind the nut. To adjust the truss rod you need a huge, hollow wrench which is not included. I had to acquire one from my local Peavey Service center; the only one they had! All hardware is in black chrome finish. The string lock is Kahler with string retainer and nut in one unit. Nice round Allen screws. The tremolo system is Kahler 2700 (licensed under Floyd Rose patents) and it is slightly recessed into the body. This is a very complex system which at first glance may look like something between a tarantula and a space shuttle ( ! ), but if you get used to it, you'll find that it has some really neat features you won't find on any other system. (OK, here we go - it's possible to adjust string spacing, individual saddle height, intonation without loosening the strings, tighten the bar, and you don't need to chop the ball ends off the strings.) It's also possible to change the vibrato bar mounting module to an insert type à la Ibanez Edge to eliminate bar wobble. (Lynch and Eddie love that wobble sound!) I just have to say that it's not for the inexperienced. The tremolo cavity on the back of the body houses the block (split in two for possible mounting of Kahler accessories), 3 springs and the spring claw. (The 1. prototype however, had an original Kramer/Floyd Rose-system.) The pickups are one Alnico humbucker (bridge) and one Alnico single coil (neck), a typical Adrian Vandenberg pickup configuration. Both manufactured by Peavey to Adrian's specs , and with medium/high output. Both pickups are placed at a 2 degree angle (parallel with the body's bottom edge), something Adrian says harmonically balances the overall signal. This eliminates the string spacing problem associated with Gibson spaced pickups in comdination with Fender spaced tremoloes. The humbucker has a sweet midrange sound like a Duncan Custom, but it has more overtones and hotter output. The single coil pickup is also a bit dark sounding and hotter than a standard strat pickup, but it still has that bell like Hendrix tone that will easily sends shivers down your spine. (On the 1. prototype it looks like Adrian has put in a DiMarzio PAF pro in the bridge position, and on the 2. prototype a Seymour Duncan.)
The controls are 2 volume and one 3 way selector switch. Many may agree with me that tone controls have nothing to do on a Rock'n'Roll guitar! The volume pots are nicely oversized and in black chrome. The 3 position switch is Peavey's own "Gibson style" toggle, which may need some contact spray from time to time. The volume pot closest to the bridge pickup has a very wise placement; if you're playing with your right hand open (like Adrian and I do), your pinky won't turn the volume down all the time. It's also within reach when you really need to turn it down, or for those fade-in "seagull-effects". It also acts as a master volume for both pickups, but the lower pot only works for the neck pickup. This opens for some useful possibilities. Plugged into a good amp, you can use the switch to turn from an almost crystal clean single coil sound to a flat-out distorted humbucker sound, or you can get that "Ace Frehley-style" on and off effect simply by adjusting the 2 volume pots. (On the first prototype however, the controls are located like on Adrian's ESP Horizons. On the other Peaveys he used on the first Whitesnake tour, the selector and neck volume has changed place compared to the production models.) So what have we got? This M**********r is a balanced, consistent, well playing, sweet sounding and extremely versatile guitar with outstanding looks! A guitar with personality. It's possible to set the string action real low without buzzing. It's not only limited to playing Hard Rock and Heavy Metal though; you also get nice blues, jazz or even Country sounds out of this axe. As the years have passed, the Vandenbergs have also proven to stand the changes of seasons and transport. A nice hard case is also included along with very good instructional manuals and a hand signed certificate from the man himself! The 1. edition is a little more tricky to find on the used guitars market than the 2. edition, but I would not consider it a "rare bird".
The Peavey Vandenberg Signature (2. edition)
The Vandenberg Signature was only supposed to be made in a limited quantity of 3000.
(My black 1. edition has serial#00002222). However, the guitar proved to be a huge success.
Peavey had done a great job promoting the guitar by advertising in the leading Guitar magazines, the music fairs, their own MONITOR magazine and in the music stores around the world. Adrian was playing his Peavey guitars while touring with Whitesnake, and his 2. black prototype was featured in the video for the Whitesnake classic "Give me all your love".
Peavey followed up the need for more Vandenbergs by producing more guitars which are slightly different compared to the 1.version. (Pic.1) First of all, the body, neck and headstock is thicker. A heavy guitar with a fatter sound.
The Kahler 2700 is replaced with the Kahler 2730 SPYDER ™ system. This double locking system is also excellent, but the string spacing adjustment feature is left out. You also need to slack the strings to set intonation, and the ball ends must be cut off before putting on new strings. It's more straight forward, and closer to the original Floyd. The shape of the recession for the bridge is different to.
The spacing between the pivot bolts are greater than on the 2700, and similar to that on a Floyd Rose. In addition to this the knife-edges are changeable (though Kahler promised lifetime warranty for these). Just remember to put on a small amount of grease around this area, and the unit should work properly. The 3 springs are rather hard, and for standard Light 009-042 string gauge 2 springs should be enough.
Note: the Kahler units are heavier than Floyds, and therefore require more string pull.
The machine heads are Grovers, and stays in place without the help of guiding screws.
The lower corner of the left fiddle cut has a reduced angle for better playing comfort.
The fingerboard is black ebony.
The 2. edition was also available in a wider range of colors: Pearl White, '62 Blue, Laser Red and Raspberry Pearl (all which have a hint of metallic) in addition to the 3 before mentioned colors.
It's important to keep in mind that the change from version 1 to 2 was not immediate. In the original ad for the PV Signature Adrian holds up a prototype which is a 1. version except for the tremolo, which is a Kahler SPYDER ™, and not a 2700. (Pic.2)
He used this guitar on the first two world tours with Whitesnake, and it was also seen in the video for "Now you're gone" from the "Slip of the tongue" album".
Pictured above and right: a nice 2. edition in
raspberry pearl signed by Adrian!
From the guitar collection of Timmy Oz.
Left: a laser red 2.ed. with some of the electronics removed. Thanks to Justin at JC guitars for the pic.
Right: a pearl white Vandy. Who owns it now?
All Peavey Vandenberg models have Schaller Security Locks as standard equipment. It's funny that Adrian never used them with his Peavey Guitars.
So, is the 2. edition better and improved compared to the 1. version, or is it truth in the old saying that "the early signature models are always the best"? Both yes and no. The 2. edition has a little too much neck mounting space (like on the Fender USA Standard Stratocaster), so make sure that the neck is properly fitted and that the screws are well tightened. The 3 Allen screws on the locking nut that comes with the Kahler SPYDER ™ bridge has a rather brutal design for being fitted on such a graceful guitar. I liked the old ones better. Except from this I think both versions are excellent guitars.
On both the "Liquor & Poker tour" (1989-91) and the "Greatest hits tour" (1994) Adrian used two odd prototypes of the P.V. Signature. One had a black body, and both the neck and fingerboard was made of flame maple. The other has a strange black burst finish on the body and radically figured tiger stripe maple on both neck and fingerboard. (this one is featured in the video for "The deeper the love" from the "Slip of the tongue" album". I've never heard of any production versions of these two guitars.
If you're lucky you might find a 2.version in good shape in a local music store, music magazine or on the internet. Happy hunting!
The Peavey Vandenberg Custom
After the Peavey Vandenberg Signature model had been on the market for some time, Peavey in 1988 launched a more expensive variation on the theme, the Vandenberg Custom.
This guitar is pretty similar to the 2.version of the P.V. Signature model, but there are in fact great differences in materials and constructions. The pearl dot markers are replaced with "Custom Vandenberg pearl inlays". The neck profile is thinner, and the frets are wider like those on a Gibson Marauder. The fret board was available in both ebony and eastern flame maple.
It may seem like Adrian wanted to create a version of the PV Signature which had a neck-through-body construction like his ESP Horizon Customs and Fernandes Signature model prototype. The P.V. Custom has a one piece mahogany body which is slightly thinner than the P.V.Signature, and the top is a little more arched. To preserve the sustain of the one piece mahogany body Adrian invented a new type of construction. The 2 piece laminated maple neck are pushed and glued into a rectangular tunnel that runs through the body. By this he eliminates the need of "body wings" and combines the neck-through-body concept with the set-neck construction of a Gibson Les Paul.
This guitar sounds slightly different from the P.V. Signature. It offers greater sustain and a more distinct tone. The body/neck joint is the most anatomically correct I've ever seen. (The Peavey Sarzo basses also has this detail.) The electronics are a bit different. The single coil in the neck position is of the stacked hum cancelling type (Similar to Seymour Duncan Hot Strat Stack), something Peavey has called the HCS hum canceling system. The volume pot for the bridge pickup is of the push pull type so you can split up the humbucker for a single coil sound. Both the body, headstock and the back of the neck is painted in one color. It was available in the same colors as the P.V. Signature models.
On his first tour with Whitesnake Adrian played an early prototype of the P.V.Custom with pearl dot markers, white finish, white hardware (Kahler Kolor ™ - a real flop!) and pickups.
Adrian used a "regular" white P.V. Custom in the video for the song "Fool for your loving" taken from the "Slip of the tongue" album".
Overall the P.V. Custom is an excellent stage axe and a versatile studio tool. It was discontinued in 1989, and it's quite rare on the vintage market.
This is a '62 blue Custom with flame maple fingerboard. Flashy!
The Peavey Vandenberg Puzzle
This was the most expensive Peavey Vandenberg model. It's identical to the P.V.
Custom except for 3 things: the body has puzzle pattern graphics all over the body, coil tap mini switch instead of push/pull pot and the pearl inlay position markers have domino piece design. Of course this was designed by Mr. Vandenberg himself.
The most common is white graphics on black, but it was also made with black pattern on white, something which is more rare.
Adrian used a white-on-black P.V. Puzzle on the "Liquor & Poker tour" (1989-91).
The guitar on the picture is really a PV Custom with just the graphics. The prototype?
The Peavey Vandenberg Puzzle is very hard to find. Let's get frustrated!
A production model puzzle with non-stock EMG pickups.
The Peavey Vandenberg Quilt Top
My personal favorite. The Peavey Vandenberg Quilt top arrived on the market in 1989. It was based on the P.V. Custom model, but has some extra features which makes it the most versatile and exclusive of the Peavey Vandenberg models. First of all the selection of woods are different. The body is made of medium weight mahogany with a quilted, book matched maple top (this makes the guitar a bit thicker than the P.V. Custom). The neck is also made of mahogany, and the fret board is rosewood with cream binding. The neck joint is not as smooth as on the P.V. Custom, more like on an ESP Horizon Custom. The headstock is not as sharp edged as on the other models. The frets are Gibson Les Paul type...does it ring any bells? Maybe Adrian wanted to design an anatomically correct Les Paul with a locking tremolo? This guitar has also got dual humbuckers with cream colored frames like a Gibson, but the wiring is quite different and opens for some really convenient pickup combinations. A golden 2 way mini switch is added below the other controls.
With the mini switch in the lower position the 3 way toggle acts like this:
down: bridge pickup serial (humbucker)
middle: both pickups in parallel
up: neck pickup serial (humbucker)
These pickup combinations together with the warm tone and sustain in this guitar offers the classic Gibson sound.
With the mini switch in the upper position the 3 way toggle acts like this:
down: bridge pickup split (single coil)
middle: both pickups split and in parallel (the inner coils of each pickup out-of-phase with each other)
up: neck pickup split (single coil)
These pickup combinations sound almost like a strat, and offers some killer clean sounds especially in a studio situation.
The P.V. Quilt top has gold hardware and it was available in 3 different finishes: Transparent honey sunburst, transparent purple and transparent pink. The side edge of the maple top is not colored; only clear finish like on a Paul Reed Smith.
Adrian first appeared with 2 prototypes of the P.V. Quilt top on the"Liquor & Poker tour" (1989-91). One of them had a tiger stripe maple top and transparent pink finish. This guitar also had a Peavey/Kahler bridge system, very similar to an original Floyd. The other was a transparent honey sunburst P.V.Quilt top.
The Peavey Vandenberg Quilt top was discontinued in 1992. It is quite difficult to track one down.
(I paid $ 1300 for a purple one in excellent condition here in Norway! I've never had any second thoughts about it.)
A really nice trans purple Quilt top.
Thanks to Timmy Oz for the picture.
Adrian once claimed in an interview in Peavey MONITOR magazine that the Peavey Vandenberg Signature was designed primarily for on-stage use. His intentions with the Custom and Quilt top models was to make some variants of the P.V. Signature suitable for both recording and live work. In the same interview he also told that the production models were in fact better than the prototypes he used on stage! Peavey would give him new guitars on his request, and Adrian would then give feedback about corrections to be made before the production models went into process.
Right before the Vandenberg models were discontinued, an odd version of the bolt on signature saw the light of day. It had a tilted neck joint heel for easier access on the highest frets, the new look Peavey logo printed on the regular black Peavey headstock in white, and "Vandenberg" with very small lettering. and newer Peavey/Kahler "Floyd-clone" tremolo. Maybe a bit uninspiring? This seemed to indicate "the beginning of the end" for the Peavey Vandenberg. Pictures will soon be added.
Copyright © Lars Berget Productions January 31. 2000 all rights reseved.