"I've ripped up my fingers to shreds, they bled, they blistered": Watch Nina DiGregorio's jaw-dropping version of Van Halen's Eruption, played on 7-string fretted violin

Nina DiGregorio playing violin
(Image credit: Nina DiGregorio)

Nina DiGregorio is a very successful musician. She's performed with The Killers for President Obama. She's played with Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Shakira, Michael Bublé, Boz Scaggs, Peter Cetera, Stevie Wonder, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and plenty more. She was in Toni Braxton's band. She leads the all-female troupe Femmes Of Rock, who are currently touring the US.

But when the dust has settled, Nina DiGregorio may be remembered most for her astonishing, fleet-fingered version of Eddie Van Halen's classic instrumental showpiece Eruption, performed with uncanny accuracy on a 7-string fretted violin. 

"I struggled and fought the limitations of the instrument," says DiGregorio. "I had some really hard practice days, but the best motivation for me is 'it can’t be done.' It took a combination of newly learned left and right hand technique, played precisely, practiced slowly for clarity, forever to even make the right sound. The spaces that you need to hit, quickly, on a fretted violin are much smaller than that of a guitar. 

"I tweaked the effect chain and technique right up until the 11th hour on the very final day of doing this. One day near the end of it, I was practicing in the studio and Brody [DiGregorio's husband] was taking a shower. When he got out, he said to me he thought I was playing the recording of Van Halen. That was my breakthrough day. I knew I was close. I haven’t worked this hard since my masters recital on classical violin. I’ve ripped up my fingers to shreds, they bled, they blistered."

"Eddie Van Halen was in a class all of his own," she continues. "His sound, technique, rhythm, and musicality changed the game for all guitarists (and this electric violinist) that followed. I am a far better performer, a far better violinist, with a much larger range of abilities, thanks to the months (or years) I put into dissecting his style and taking the time to do this on a violin as close to how he did it (so effortlessly) on a guitar as possible. Thank you, EVH, for making so many of us better musicians."

Watch DiGregorio's version of Eruption below. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.