Custom versions (in various stages of completion) of Terry McArthur’s Moseley-inspired recreation, “The Maphis” by TNM
Guitars. Photo courtesy of Rick Gould.
with a band or orchestra. He found that the
ultimate solution was to have more than one
set of strings on the same instrument. By the
mid-1930s Rey had commissioned a dual-neck
steel from Gibson. By the end of the decade
there were a number of steel players utilizing
two- and three-neck instruments.
Immediately after the end of World War II, a
number of different builders—Leo Fender and
Paul Bigsby to name two—made businesses of
building multi-neck steel guitars. Indeed, multi-neck steels were a core part of the Fender
business throughout the 1950s. But steels
were not the wave of the future, and both
Fender and Bigsby would focus the bulk of
their efforts on the single-neck electric Spanish
guitar. But that didn’t mean the end of multi-neck guitars. In fact, it was just the beginning.
Doubleneck Spanish-style electric guitars may
have existed prior to World War II, but these
would have been one-off pieces. In the years
just after the war, most manufacturers—
players as well—were just trying to get their
footing with the new standard of electrification. Once this new standard was accepted,
people began to expand their vision of what
an electric guitar could be, and what it could
do. It was the economic and cultural climate
of the 1950s that brought the doubleneck
electric guitar from the freak show onto the
main stage of music.
Sherwin Linton in 1967 with the doubleneck he built in 1965
using a Fender Jazzmaster neck and vibrato tailpiece. Four
of the strings on the 12-string neck use banjo tuners through
the back of the headstock, so they’re not seen in the photo.
Sherwin says he “finished it in blue with the woodgrain
showing through and it was and still is very pretty.”
Photo courtesy of Sherwin Linton.
Doublenecks With a Purpose
One of the earliest examples of a
doubleneck electric guitar made for onstage
use was a doubleneck electric guitar and
mandolin made in 1952 by Paul Bigsby for
country singer Grady Martin. The guitar
was a solid maple instrument featuring a
standard six-string guitar neck paired with
a mandolin neck. The six-string neck used a