-- Museum of Musical Instruments
(Back to Home)

   Double-neck electric guitars from the 1950s may have seemed pretty novel at the time, but multiple-neck instruments had in fact already cropped up several times in guitar history. Introduced in 1958, Gibson double-necks were the first commercially made instruments of this type, and could be custom ordered with a twelve-string, bass, or even mandolin neck paired to a regular six-string. More guitar means more weight, so the first double-necks were made hollow with a spruce top on a maple back and sides, the double-pointed cutaway body presaging the SG shape that Gibson used when remodeling their Les Paul guitars in 1961. Few double-necks survive from the 1960s, but after Jimmy Page used one for live performances of Led Zeppelin's hit "Stairway to Heaven," sales of these onetime curiosities increased dramatically. Page was aiming for practicality more than novelty, as "Stairway" calls for a quick switch between a twelve- and a six-string guitar. The effect of being seen with a twin neck guitar onstage soon became so alluring that many players were willing to wrestle with this cumbersome behemoth whether or not they needed the instrument musically.

Close Window