According to records at Ernie Ball (thanks Jacob!) the EVH that Jan played later in her career was born on August 23rd 1991 and sold to Guitar Center Store #110 in Hollywood CA. I presume it was purchased from there by Jan Kuehneumund of Vixen Fame, but that's an assumption.
From what I can gather, Vixen came back from a world tour mid 1991 but didn't fully disband until 1992 so maybe Jan bought this guitar as her new Vixen axe, or maybe she bought it as a starting over present for herself. I don't know.
All I know for sure is that a few months after Jan lost her battle with cancer on October 10, 2013, it showed up in Denver Guitar Center for the stupidly reasonable price of $1200. And I bought it.
That was 9 years ago and since then I have bought zero more guitars - and sold 5, so that tells you how I feel about it. I've recently started playing again more and have fallen in love with it all over again.
I never met Jan, but feel a connection to her through this guitar in it's battle scarred awesomeness. This guitar will always be more about her than it is about me and I'll do my best to look after it.
Pink or faded Red? (Mystery Solved)
Pink or faded red? That is the question. I always through this was just faded red, but discovered very recently that there was a limited 200 run of Pinks. Sometimes it looks red, and sometimes it looks pink, but I see that even when Jan was playing, it had a split personality.
Duh.. there's a database Lookup. It's PINK.
Hey. Look at Jan's red guitar!
Hey. Look at Jan's .. uh.. pink guitar?
So what color is it? (Well.. it's PINK. Now I know).
.. and the black "Tone" knob? I haven't seen any that aren't white, so this is either a rare option or a swap.
VH1 Bands Reunited
The Vixen episode of Band Reunited from 2004 make it pretty clear that this guitar got some serious play time between then and when Jan sadly passed in 2013.
According to Wikipedia, Jan reformed Vixen in 2001 and played through 2012 - although that makes the 2004 timeline of the "Reunited" right there in the middle - but it is what it is. The guitar is in that episode for absolute sure.
Here's a frame from the VH1 show. See that wear on the back of the guitar? Rocker women sure love their big belt buckles!
There it is.. and then some. Evidence that the guitar got some serious use after 2004. Some might look at this as "damage" but for me it's all part of the story.
I think it's safe to say that this toured with Vixen in it's 2001-2012 iteration. Here's Jan rolling up to the studio in 2004 for the VH1 show.
.. and here's the case I bought it in - and yes, that is genuine long blond rockstar hair you're seeing there.
So how on earth did this end up at Guitar Center.. for $1200!!??
The "how" is fairly straight forward. According to the sales person I worked with, Jan had some connection to the town of Colorado Springs, and may have even passed there. I'm not sure. According to him, she had entrusted a friend to sell her gear, and it was shipped up to the Denver branch where I first saw it on Saturday February 8th 2014 - 4 months after Jan passed.
$1,200 though? That always seemed cheap to me, and the rep said they don't price things based on history - they price them based on book price and condition.. oh my.. hang on..
I just now, 9 years later, worked out why this was only $1200.
Is that what happened? They put it into the computer as an AXIS???
Makes sense to me. Even back then, $1,200 was dirt cheap for this model. I'm literally sitting here chuckling to myself at how someones mistake dropped the greatest guitar I've ever played right into my lap!
It needs to be played. I"m 55 now and every 5 years or so I go through a music awakening. This time around it's in part thanks to my amazing daughter and her band Tireshoe. She's the vocalist and she's reminded me how much I also love to create.
Believe it or not, I JUST changed the strings on this guitar for the first time. I couldn't bring myself to change them - but I guess it's mine now so time to dial it in. I added the EVH Drop D back when I bought the guitar because if there is any guitar it should be on, it's this bridged EVH.
When I got it, it played silky smooth but it's been hanging on a wall long enough that it's a bit out of whack. I'm playing for hours a day at the moment experimenting with strings and getting my fingers hardened up (so far Ernie Ball 9s but with 36 and 46 at the top) As soon as I'm sure, it's off to Tenorio Werx for a full service and setup. When I get a guitar back from them it pretty much plays itself. HIGHLY recommended.
.. and to sum up my guitar buying journey..
RIP Jan Kuehnermund.