Top Jimmy

Van Halen‘s “Top Jimmy”, played by me. To my knowledge, this is the only song Eddie ever played in an alternate tuning (DADACD). The story behind the opening harmonics of the tune is that the idea came to Ed in the middle of the night during a tour in South America. So Ed grabbed a tape-recorder, snuck into a closet and sang the notes to capture the moment.

Eddie gets so much credit for changing the way the guitar is played, and rightfully so. But I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for being a great rhythm player. “Top Jimmy” is one of his funkier guitar parts and really demonstrates a real intricate sense of timing. You could learn a lot by sitting down and working on each passage, getting the timing of each scratch, slide and strum just right.

The rhythm guitar parts are played in the alternate tuning, but the solo is in standard tuning. To my ear, the main rhythm guitar sounds like it was a Strat, so I used my American Standard for that. I busted out my trusty old frankenstrat for the solo bits which has a nice fat humbucker sound.  I used the 5150 III for both guitar parts.

Since I did this in multiple passes, I “magically” switch guitars at the solo break (where “magic” = “Final Cut Pro”). The chords in the solo have kind of a gothic-metal feel due to the 1/2-step movement between E and F. The solo is basically in a D blues style, but the chords underneath sound way closer to Yngwie Malmsteen than Eric Clapton.