Wolfgang William Van Halen (born March 16, 1991) is an American musician. He is the bassist for Van Halen, having replaced Michael Anthony in 2006. He is also the former bassist for the heavy metal band Tremonti. At 26 years old, he is the youngest member of Van Halen.
Named in homage to the classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he is the son of guitarist Eddie Van Halen and actress Valerie Bertinelli, and the nephew of drummer Alex Van Halen. Wolfgang has said that he did not know his father was a famous musician until he “started picking up CDs and saw his picture on them”.
Following the completion of the 2007/2008 Van Halen tour, Wolfgang headed back to school, hoping to graduate in the summer of 2009; he would graduate one year later in 2010. Wolfgang appears as the bassist for Van Halen in Guitar Hero: Van Halen.
Wolfgang had an indirect impact on his father’s career from the very beginning of his life. The instrumental “316” was named in his honor, after Wolfgang’s birthday. For a 13-year period ending in 2004, Eddie Van Halen collaborated with Peavey on a line of guitars, the Wolfgang series, named after his son. In 2008, his father named a custom guitar after him, the Fender EVH Wolfgang.
He always watched the rehearsals of Eddie, and at times would try to play his uncle’s drum kit. Wolfgang started playing drums at the age of nine, and then his father gave him a set of drums for his tenth birthday. Some time later he moved on to guitar and bass. He can also play keyboards and “figure things out by ear”. Wolfgang later began actively participating in the band. He also made guest appearances during some dates of Van Halen’s 2004 tour, appearing during his father’s extended guitar solo spot and playing “316” with him.
In late 2006, in an interview with Guitar World, Eddie Van Halen confirmed that Wolfgang would replace Michael Anthony as Van Halen’s bassist. Wolfgang first toured with Van Halen in his new capacity in 2007. In August 2010, Van Halen announced that they would record a new album, with Wolfgang playing bass.
In early 2008, Wolfgang appeared on the cover of the April issue of Guitar World with his father, in the magazine’s first father-son issue.
Wolfgang recorded his first album with Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth, in 2011. The album was released on February 7, 2012.
On September 10, 2012, Alter Bridge and Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti announced that Wolfgang would be filling in for Brian Marshall as bassist for the first tour of Tremonti’s eponymous band. Tremonti’s first album, All I Was, was released on July 17 of that year. Wolfgang became an official member of Tremonti in 2013, replacing previous bassist Brian Marshall. He appears on the band’s 2015 studio album Cauterize and its 2016 follow-up Dust.
In a February 2015 interview with the National Museum of American History, Eddie Van Halen indicated that Wolfgang is working on a solo album.
Wolfgang started playing the bass as his father started asking if he wanted to play with him. Wolfgang first viewed bass as “an easier version of guitar, but as soon as I started playing it I realized how wrong that was”, but stated that his experience with a guitar made it easier for him to deal with the instrument. His style was described by Eddie as a “rhythm bassist, like I’m a rhythm guitarist and a bassist put together.” When he first began playing bass, his inspirations were Les Claypool of Primus and Justin Chancellor of Tool. He also enjoys Chris Wolstenholme of Muse, John Entwistle of The Who, Jack Bruce of Cream “and all of the classic players”.
Most of Wolfgang’s basses are custom-built, and are based on his father’s Frankenstrats and EVH Wolfgangs by Fender Master Builder and EVH engineer Chip Ellis. Two of them, one red and one blue, have Fender Jazz Bass shaped bodies and are loaded with active EMG pickups and electronics. These were used for the Van Halen 2007–2008 North American Tour. For the A Different Kind of Truth Tour in 2012, Ellis built Wolfgang 3 more basses, another Jazz bass based on his father’s black-and-white Frankenstrat, and two based on his father’s EVH Wolfgang guitar. Both are satin black, while one has silver stripes and one has yellow stripes similar to his father’s “Bumblebee” Frankenstrat. All three feature Fender N3 Noiseless pickups.
For amplification, he uses EVH 5150s and Fender Super Bassmans. He uses one Super Bassman on the clean channel to provide a clean low end, while another Super Bassman and the 5150, both on channel 2, provide an overdriven sound on top of the clean Bassman. For effects, Wolfgang uses an MXR EVH signature Flanger and Phase 90, MXR Fullbore distortion, Strymon TimeLine delay, Electro-Harmonix POG, and Way Huge Pork Loin overdrive, and a Dunlop Cry Baby bass wah.
- With Van Halen
- A Different Kind of Truth — 2012
- Tokyo Dome Live in Concert — 2015
- With Tremonti
- Cauterize — 2015
- Dust — 2016