I'm a HUGE Van Halen fan, and I would like to own a guitar that can really get that brown sound, and other 80's guitar sounds(demartini, jake e. lee, etc). As much as I love my strat, sometimes it just can't get the sound I like.
It's more than just a one-pickup guitar to get this sound. It's the amp, they type of pickup, the wood of the guitar, etc. The amp should be a Marshall type -- I have heard that a Pevey 5150/6505 can produce a good approximation, and an even better one if you swap in Celestion Greenbacks. I have also head recordings of a Marshall AVT 50 head that nailed the tone, using a Peavey Wolfgang.
If you are looking for the tone from the early albums, most of the recording was done with two guitars -- an early Ibanez Destroyer that was reportedly made of korina wood (there is some dispute to this -- others say it was ash), or the fabled Frankenstein, which used a two part ash body, vintage Strat trem with an angled PAF humbucker, maple fretboard, and brass nut. These aren't the only ones he used, but those are the main ones. One key here is that he used a hard wood with a not terribly hot pickup to get the tone. It's not impossible to do it the other way, but this will make it easier.
Another key was his use of the MXR 90 phaser -- an old "script" phaser -- on solos. You can buy his model, which is pretty good. I have head that BYOC has an amazing phaser that sounds even warmer, but I got a good deal on the EVH Phase 90, and I didn't have to wire it myself.
For more on this, you might want to check out this link -- these guys have a lot of time and effort into nailing this tone: http://halen.com/evh/index.php?name=...d2523d89109627