Former White Lion guitarist Vito Bratta has opened up about making the switch from Stratocasters to Steinberger guitars to avoid comparisons with Eddie Van Halen.

Bratta’s white, custom-built headless Steinberger is just about as iconic as the man himself. In the new issue of Guitar World, Bratta recounts his journey with the legendary guitar and the reasons behind some of his gear choices in the ’80s.

“It was all automatic Eddie Van Halen comparisons when I played a Strat-style guitar, so I wanted something different,” says Bratta.

The guitarist previously admitted to being “bothered” by links to the Eruption mastermind, so much so that he phoned the legend himself for advice.

“I remember seeing it in magazines, and people would tell me, ‘Oh, you sound and play just like Eddie.’ At one point, it got under my skin enough that I called Eddie,” he said. “I won’t say all that Eddie told me specifically – I’ll take that to my grave – but I will say that he told me, ‘I love the way you play. We’re a lot alike, but you’re different. Remember that.’”

Nonetheless, Bratta reveals that EVH links weren’t the only reason he made the jump to Steinbergers. A newfound appreciation for high-tech gear also contributed.

“I had gotten into a high-tech mode. I switched from ‘60s Marshalls to ADA pre- and power amps, and I was just in a mode where I wanted all the newest tech and gear,” he recalls.

“What I loved about the Steinberger was when I walked on an arena stage, and they hit those big powerful spotlights, and all the stuff engaged, it would stay in tune. With an all-wood Strat, that wasn’t the case.”

As Bratta explains, the Steinberger is a whole different beast on stage: “It’s definitely not a Strat,” he says. “It has an 81 EMG Active pickup in the neck and an 85 EMG Active pickup in the bridge. There was a factory modification done that only my guitars had, which is I only had one volume knob and a two-way switch.”

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