"The Limited 5150 Film Collection"

Ran across this earlier and hadn’t seen it before:

All kinds of great stuff in here. Amid the many closeups of Wolfanga’s hair / face / fretboard, we also have this:


Anyway, Googling “The Limited 5150 Film Collection” pulls up this YouTube Channel, with a shady-sounding bio and anonymous gmail account offering (presumably) to sell the footage:

What is “The Limited 5150 Film Collection” and who is behind it? I’m guessing @garbeaj knows!


Damn…gone already. Makes me want to see it even more!

I do indeed and you are quite correct…it is shady. I was given about an hour of footage from this around 7 years ago and I have used it to help confirm (or deny) things in my ongoing work of transcribing the Van Halen catalog from 1977-1989.

To make a long story short, the guy that shot the footage was hired by Edward to document goings on and eventually rehearsals for the Roth reunion tour and Wolfgang’s entry into the band as bassist. This was over a long period…sporadically over several years. Eventually the Van Halen organization/Edward decided that they didn’t want to go forward with the project and the guy was informed his services were no longer needed just at the time of the first Roth reunion tour show…without being paid. The guy was left with the footage and he eventually decided to sell some of the many, many hours of video that he has, still photos and audio direct from the desk as well as ‘The 5150 Vault’. A few years ago he compiled his story in words and pictures for a self-published book called ‘Eruption In the Canyon’ that he sold directly for…you guessed it…$51.50. I bought a copy and despite the circumstances, it is a unique window on that time from a perspective that no one else has had.

Now it does get murky here…the guy wasn’t paid for many, many months of work and bizarre living conditions at 5150. He was a professional videographer and video director who had done official videos for Deftones and Limp Bizkit among others and he looks at selling his footage as a way to recoup his pay losses. Publicly selling the footage was quickly stopped by VH’s lawyers while Edward was still alive several years back when Bennett sold it publicly via a website. Now after Ed passed, he is somewhat covertly selling the footage for what most consider astronomical prices via a “secure” system…but as most know there is no such thing as a secure internet delivered anything. One purchaser leaked the footage that he paid Bennett for and a YouTube uploader put it up through the clip you posted…it has already been taken down of course because Bennett reported it to YouTube immediately after it was posted.

The footage that I’ve been given and this footage does have some gems…the close-quarters inside the studio where Bennett filmed make for some very good close-ups of the hands which wouldn’t ordinarily be possible. For instance in this recently posted segment you can clearly see exactly how Ed held the pick in the joints of his Middle finger for the quiet parts and tapping segments of “Hot For Teacher”.

Another interesting thing that I discovered from watching the rehearsals of “On Fire” in the course of gathering evidence for my transcription of the first album version of that tune is that Edward had no idea how he used to play the echoed chord stabs during the Chorus. In 2007 when these rehearsals occurred, he hadn’t played “On Fire” in over 23 years when it was last played at the end of the ‘1984’ tour. I realized that it was Wolfgang who taught Ed how to play those chords…incorrectly as it turns out. In the rehearsal footage Edward plays them in the same positions as the “Runnin’ With the Devil” main riff…this is also how Wolfgang played these chords at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute shows. Through an intermediary mutual friend, Wolfgang confirmed that he learned that part by looking at the old Wolf Marshall transcription book for the first album from 1990. By looking at footage from Fresno 1978, Portland ‘78, Niagara Falls ‘78 and Donington ‘84 I can plainly see that he played variations of those chords down nearer to the nut. I can also hear this from listening closely to the recently bootlegged raw mic track of the guitar in “On Fire” from the first album sessions.

Van Halen ultimately never performed “On Fire” live on the reunion tour…probably owing to how hard it would have been for Roth to execute the vocal and perhaps how difficult it would have been for Wolf to reliably execute Michael Anthony’s piercing background vocals. Wolfgang is an excellent vocalist and I may be off base there…I know he can pull off that part, but maybe it was just about Roth’s inability to convincingly sing the song that led them to abandon playing it on the reunion tours.

At any rate, I say again that the whole circumstance of Bennett selling this footage which ultimately contains Van Halen intellectual property even though he was never payed for his work and the pretty exorbitant prices he is charging does tend to taint the whole thing for me. I am however grateful that the footage exists and has been bootlegged anyway,


Interesting! I’m no IP lawyer so I can’t comment on whether Van Halen or this individual owns the footage in question. However excerpting a tiny segment of it for commentary on picking technique most certainly passes the US fair use checklist on just about every point.

True enough there’s not guarantee that Ed is playing the same way here that once did. Things like joint motions tend to be stickier over the long term though, so I think it’s pretty like that I’m The One was always done this way we’re seeing here. Especially since there really aren’t too many other ways of doing it.


You haven’t missed much. The footage is about the best quality that one could expect for the tiny control room at 5150, but it is a bit frustrating to watch at times. One thing that is interesting is that you can plainly see that Wolf has worked VERY hard at music (which is really why he is successful in my opinion) and you can see how he and Alex and the reunion tours motivated Eddie to work hard at playing again. You can see Eddie struggling with sobriety throughout and it is hard to watch from that perspective. We know that he succeeded toward the very last years of his life and Wolf was a HUGE part of that.

I look at this footage as a learning and evidentiary tool for my transcriptions and it is very valuable in that light, but this particular segment among the dozens of hours of footage from these 2007 rehearsals is not the best segment. Bennett has so much footage from the 2004 ‘Best of’ sessions and this reunion tour footage that offers more little gems here and there, but I certainly can’t afford what he’s charging and I don’t know for sure that I would if I had the money.

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I found a new upload of the footage via the Van Halen subreddit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLWKkgDs04I&t=4s

Edit: nevermind it got taken down

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I agree…it seems likely that he used the “Thumb-Middle with the Index resting on the edge of the pick” grip on the record and on the ‘78 performances, but the joint motions likely remained the same as you pointed out, whether it was the Thumb-Index or the Thumb-Middle grip.

I believe I see him using the “Thumb-Middle” grip in the ‘98 Van Halen III era performances of the tune as well…the footage isn’t the best, but I think I can see the Index resting on the edge of the pick with the Thumb and Middle actually gripping the pick during that intro…do you see it as well?

I don’t know which part you’re referring to, but yes for sure, Eddie commonly jumps back and forth between the three-finger / middle-finger grip. He does this in the recent footage as well.

On its own it isn’t super notable. Eddie is a reverse dart player, by which I mean that he doesn’t really do a “thumb to pinky” wrist motion, but rather a motion that looks (to varying degrees) more like knocking on a door. This motion is still doable even with an index grip and the arm completely flat on the guitar body.

But this is very inside baseball. Outside of mechanics hobbyists, I’m sort of negative on peeping these kinds of tiny details without a big-picture plan for learning. The best way to learn is to assume the basic overall form and move freely / easily with comfort.

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I’m talking about the intro riffs which occur just prior to the drums entering…the part that you excerpted.

I think it is interesting that he basically used the Thumb-Middle grip almost always except for when he grabbed the vibrato bar when he switched to Thumb-Index through most of his career and then he switched to using the Thumb-Index much more often if not most of the time from the 2000s forward. From the footage I’ve seen, he seems to have accelerated his use of Thumb-Index after his hand surgery in 2008, but that might just be coincidental.

I do think that you are right to say that getting into this detail is less useful for “big picture” learning, but I also think that getting into this detail is helpful for note-for-note study. One can choose to abandon the grips and motions that Eddie (or insert whatever player you are studying) used for what is more comfortable and effective for oneself. But I do think it is cool to at least be aware of how other players approach those tiny details.

Of course I would say that because I’m totally dedicated to trying to transcribe Van Halen and other artists as accurately as possible…even if my goal is more for historical accuracy and posterity and not for what is best for learning the guitar overall!:metal:t2:

Sorry, I’m probably not explaining this well! Again, this is a very inside baseball topic.

I’m saying that even if someone wants to do “the same technique” as Eddie, it is not based on the pick grip by itself. It’s based on achieving max efficiency with reverse dart wrist motion.

In our instructional material we have steps for determining which grip you will need to get this result. Some players will be able to do this with index. Some players will need to use three-finger. And some may need trailing edge, like George Benson. Individual variation in hand/finger shape influences this. Here are the steps:

The end result will be “the same” (quotes again) wrist motion Ed uses, with the advantages it confers. But it won’t necessarily look the same to an untrained observer because they might see the pick grip and think, “hey that’s not what Ed does/did”. But that’s because they’re not looking at the wrist motion, which is the meaningful component that all the other parts of the technique are working together to achieve.

Not sure if I’m explaining this!

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Ok, yes! I think understand exactly what you mean! Makes total sense…the finger grip can change, but the wrist motion and pick angle can remain the same. And yes, more often than not, what is comfortable for a particular player is usually the best method for speed and accuracy…and it generally matters not if you are following the exact methods your hero follows…what is best for you may vary from said hero! So reverse dart thrower is the meaningful motion that we want to strive for regardless of the pick grip that we choose…whichever one helps you get there the easiest for you is the winner!

Diff’rent Strokes Mr. Drummond!:rofl:

Yes exactly. Just one of many examples, here’s Terrance Hobbs from Suffocation. Index grip player, but the wrist motion is similar to Ed’s technique:

You can kind of see it too, right, the “pecking bird” appearance? That’s what I’m referring to. This type of wrist technique is fast because the joint is doing more of a flexion-extension motion, like knocking on a door.

Some players, like Terrance, can get this with index grip without needing to resort to three-finger grip. In my way of thinking, Terrance’s technique is “the same” as Ed’s, again in quotes, even though the grip is different.

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I see it! Yes, very similar motion to Edward!