John McLaughlin. Photo courtesy Neil Zlozower.
cover of guitar magazines, and was truly a magnificent bit of custom guitar building.
“In 1989, I ordered and purchased a
Steinberger doubleneck, hoping the body
would be a lot lighter and that the lack of
headstocks less head-heavy to wear. It was
a lot more balanced, and was unbelievably
good for tuning stability, but it was also very
heavy. I stopped using doublenecks in 1991
or so, as I started having trouble with my
neck and back. But in 2008, when Triumph
had its reunion, I had also just struck a new
endorsement with Gibson, and they sent me
a gorgeous white doubleneck, the lightest
one they could find in the Custom Shop.
It still weighs a lot, and I only use it for a
song here and there onstage, but it is by far
the best sounding doubleneck I have ever
owned. The 6-string neck has that absolutely
killer Angus Young SG sound to it, and the
12-string neck rings like a bell.”
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, no stranger
to oddball custom guitars, raised a few
eyebrows with his massive Hamer five-neck
guitar. Nielsen, world famous for his huge
guitar collection, also owns various double-neck instruments, including the one-of-a-kind
‘ 83 Hamer “Uncle Dick” guitar, which features
a full-length caricature of Rick with his legs
forming both necks and a detachable head.
English guitarist John McLaughlin, who
gained fame in the 1970s as a member of
Miles Davis’ group and then as leader of the
Mahavishnu Orchestra, played a custom-designed doubleneck instrument based upon
the Ibanez Artwood, and built by California
guitar builder Rex Bogue, in 1974. The body
was constructed of eastern fiddleback maple,
the necks were maple and rosewood, and
the fingerboards of Gaboon ebony. Gibson
humbuckers were used, but were rewound
by Bogue, and the inlay work was nothing
short of spectacular, as were the intricate
electronics. Grover Imperial tuners were used
on the 6-string neck and Klusons on the 12.
Finally, the 30-pound guitar was named “The
Double Rainbow” by its owner, who used it
extensively during his days as the acknowledged master of jazz/rock fusion guitar.
And So Many More
Other celebrated guitarists who have used
doublenecks at one time or another are
Denny Laine of Wings, Johnny Echols of the
earliest incarnation of the Los Angeles band,
Love, and Lita Ford. Laine owned an exceedingly rare Ibanez Artwood doubleneck.
Reputedly, less than a dozen were made.
Echols owned and played a Gibson EMS-
1235. Ford was well known for her use of a
white B.C. Rich doubleneck Bich, nicknamed
“The Twins.” And there’s the inimitable Pat
Metheny and his jaw dropping Pikasso guitar, conceptualized by Pat in collaboration
with Canadian luthier Linda Manzer. This
tripleneck instrument has 42 strings, weighs
just over 6 pounds, and when fully tuned,
exerts almost 1000 pounds of pressure on
In the camp of the not-quite-world-famous
doubleneck players, there’s Ron Weinstein, a talented guitarist/singer/songwriter from Long