pickups, old ABR- 1 bridges, pickguards from
Les Paul Standards. I always hoarded parts.
Travis museum. The third one is owned by
another collector. It’s the most beautiful
guitar I have ever seen: a thick hollowbody,
with maximum ornamentation, an elbow
guard, a fancy pickguard, you name it. It was
all smashed up and broken when I bought
it from George Gruhn, but we sent it back
to Guild and had it rebuilt. Photographer
Robert Knight took pictures of me with that
guitar that hang in some Guitar Centers
around the country.
What are some of your less publicized
You’re primarily an electric player, but
what acoustics do you use in the studio?
The rarest guitar I have is the second Guild
Merle Travis model. They only made three of
them in 1963. The first one is in the Merle
Let’s see…(Rick scans his guitar collection data base). I have an 1854 Martin in
its original coffin case, a Martin D- 42, a
Gibson CF-100E, a Gibson Hummingbird,
three Gibson Everly Brothers, and some
Taylor Rick Nielsen models. They built
one hundred of them in blue and green,
and we donated a portion of the money
to a charity. I also have a very rare Martin
that’s all black and white, one of three
made. My father was a Martin dealer. I
also have a Gibson Elvis Presley acoustic
and a couple of German Hoyer acoustics.
They’re not very good guitars, but they
look cool. I’ve found that every guitar has
its place. It may not be good for everything, but it might be good for something. Even the crappiest guitar in your
collection might be good for something.
Cheap Trick has a very identifiable visu-
al image, with your clothing and graphic
elements, such as the checkerboard
motif. Where did that come from?
I guess that started when I was a little
kid watching television. The networks
used to sign off at night, and all you
saw was that test pattern with the
Indian head on it, or static. If you
looked at it long enough, you started
hallucinating. I still like to hallucinate
once in a while (laughs). The checkerboard thing always appealed to me.
Also, I used to sew two guitar straps
together to make a long one, so I could
stack guitars on top of each other. Now,
I have a few of those five-neck guitars
that Hamer made for me, so I don’t
have to stack guitars anymore.
That brings me to a question about
those five-neck guitars; how heavy are
they, and was it hard to get comfort-
able playing a guitar that big?
I used to be two inches taller (laughs).
They weigh a LOT. It’s not the kind of
instrument you can play all night; just a
song here and there.