Multi-neck guitars

Gallery opened 31 Oct 2021

Updated 6 Dec 2021

New twelve-neck guitar added

Index added

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Your average guitar has of course a single neck. Double-neck guitars are fairly well-known, but they have always been regarded as a bit on the pretentious side. "I am so talented I cannot express myself on a mere conventional guitar." I only knew one musician who played a double-neck, and he did go some way to reinforcing this prejudice; hello David. If two necks are better than one then let's have more! After that things get a bit odd.


DOUBLE-NECK GUITARS

Left: A Gibson double-neck

Relatively conventional as multi-neck guitars go.

From top to bottom: 12-string, 6-string.


THREE-NECK GUITARS

Left: Three-neck solid guitar by Steve Vai:

This three-neck-electric guitar was built and played by Steve Vai. The guitar necks are from the Nagoya factory of Japan. Vai played extensively in Frank Zappa’s band from 1980 onwards and went solo in 1983. He also designed the Ibanez Universe 7, the first seven-string guitar put into quantity production.

From top to bottom: 12-string, 6-string, and 6-string fretless.

Left: Jimmy Page plays three-neck acoustic mandolin/guitar: 1994

Performing "The Battle of Evermore" on a 1994 tour of Jimmy Page & Robert Plant for the album "No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded".

There is a YouTube video of the song. At 0:56 and 2:48 Mr Page is playing the mandoline section. Actually, as far as I can see he doesn't use the other necks in this song.

From top to bottom: mandolin, 12-string, 6-string. This seems to me perfectly sensible; you can switch from mandoline to guitar almost instantly, as opposed to putting down one instrument and picking up another.

And I'm not going to argue about guitar-playing with Jimmy Page.

You can see another very nice three-neck acoustic combined mandolin, 12-string, 6-string, at the Sedgewick website.

Left: The Pikasso three-neck acoustic harp/guitar: 1984

This three-neck harp/guitar was built by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer for Pat Metheny in 1984. It took about 1000 hours to build. From top to bottom, 12-string, 12-string, 6-string. The strings at left are a harp section. There are 42 strings in total.

The instrument has a state of the art piezo pickup system, including a hexaphonic pickup on the 6 string section so Metheny could trigger his Synclavier computer system.

Pikasso? Brilliant name, and I'm not going to argue with Pat Metheny about guitars.

Linda has her own Wikipedia page. And come to that, so do I.


FOUR-NECK GUITARS

Left: Four-neck solid guitar:

From top to bottom (each with rosewood fretboard on maple neck).

  • Four-string bass guitar with two full-sized bass pickups
  • Eight-string mandolin with a single-coil mandolin pickup
  • Five-string banjo with "fully adjustable rosewood bridge-truss rod in neck."
  • Six-string guitar with two full-sized P-90 guitar pickups


FIVE-NECK GUITARS

Left: Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick and his five-neck guitar:

From top to bottom: 12-string, 6-string, 6-string, 6-string, 6-string fretless. Rick is wearing a guitar strap, but I suspect most of the weight is being taken by a stool out of view at the bottom of the picture.


SIX-NECK GUITARS

Left: Bill Bailey with six-neck guitar 'The Beast': 2011

Bill Bailey is a musician and comedian (and a very good one too) so this is not a partcularily serious attempt to expand the bounds of musical expression.

According to its creator Gary Hutchins, this is ‘The guitar that should never have been made’. One sees his point. It weighs 17kg, and has also been called "A crime against God and nature". According to some accounts it was commissioned in 2008 by Macari's Music of London (a famous instrument shop) and was displayed in their shop window.

From top to bottom: 12-string, 6-string, 5-string bass, 4-string bass, 7-string, 6-string.

Note that Bill is not wearing a guitar strap, but is resting the guitar on a small black stool.

Left: Six-neck guitar for sale: 2021

As of March 2021, this guitar was up for sale at auction. Bidding was to start at £1500; it is not currently clear if the guitar was sold.


SEVEN-NECK GUITARS

Shockingly, not a single example of a seven-necked guitar has so far been found.


EIGHT-NECK GUITARS

Left: Eight-neck guitar: 2021

This is a real instrument; it is not a product of Photoshop. It was designed by artist Gerard Huertawas and built by Dan Neafsey of DGN Custom Guitars on a commission from the National Guitar Museum as an exhibit. It is claimed to be the largest fully playable guitar, but I think a fairly elastic interpretation of 'fully playable' is required.

From left to right: a 4-string ukulele, an 8-string mandolin, 6-string guitar, 4-string bass, 4-string fretless bass, 12-string guitar, 6-string baritone guitar, and a 7-string guitar. That is a total of 51 strings and 154 frets. It weighs 40 pounds. (18kg)

(A baritone guitar is a 6-string, long-scale guitar, with heavier strings and producing a lower range of notes than a standard guitar. A baritone guitar is typically tuned B to B, which is a perfect fourth lower than a standard 6-string guitar tuning of E to E)

It is called the Rock Ock, which I assume is short for 'rock octopus'.

As a truly beautiful finishing touch, there is still a strap peg at the top of the body, as if somebody might try to hold it up and play it normally.


NINE-NECK GUITARS

Left: The nine-neck Fender guitar: 2018

This nine-neck guitar was built as a curiosity by Fender for the 2018 NAMM show, which often shows odd ideas.

It's not entirely clear what we have here, but from left to right it looks like: 4-string ukulele, standard 6-string, baritone 6-string (?), two standard 6-string (?), 6-string bass, 4-string bass, 4-string bass. The duplication of very similar 6-strings indicates this is not a serious musical instrument- as if the matter was in doubt. Apparently it is called 'The Monstrosity'.

There is a bit more info here.

Left: Three men playing the nine-neck Fender guitar: 2021

There is a Facebook video of three guys (sort of) playing it. The musical results are not impressive.

This is a still from the video.


TEN & ELEVEN-NECK GUITARS

Nothing found so far...


TWELVE-NECK GUITARS

Having got this far, you are probably pretty sure no-one's gonna push this any further. Wrong!

Left: Twelve-neck linear guitar by Yoshihiko Satoh: 2002

This is essentially an artwork, called 'Present Arms'; it was made by Yoshihiko Satoh. I think it should instead be called 'Present Necks'. It is certainly a real artefact, having won the Kirin Art Award 2002 Grandprix, though whether it can be called a real guitar is, I think, less certain. Its dimensions are 1800 x 980 x 65 mm.

This is clearly not a serious musical instrument as it provides twelve identical 6-string guitars; why would you want to switch from one to the other? Even if they had different tunings this sounds very silly. It is not known if it is a real guitar in the sense of having real pickups, guitar strings, and fretboards etc. I do like the way a vibrato arm is fitted to each guitar.

You can learn a bit more here, but it will help if you can read Japanese. Aaah, here is the English version.

Left: Twelve-neck linear guitar by Yoshihiko Satoh: 2002

Another view, as someone attempts to play it. Wisely, he keeps his face hidden. I would too.

Left: Twelve-neck circular guitar by Yoshihiko Satoh: 2003

I think that this sculpture, by Yoshihiko Satoh, can be safely assumed not to be intended as a practical musical instrument. Note that nonetheless, it is plugged into a guitar amplifier.

It is called "Glory Arms".

Left: Twelve-neck circular guitar by Yoshihiko Satoh: 2003

It sort of suggests a lifebuoy.

Left: Twelve-neck linear guitar: 2003

This is another creation by Yoshihiko Satoh. Once again, a vibrato arm is fitted to each guitar.

It doesn't appear to be plugged into anything, but there is an intimidating loudspeaker at extreme left.

Left: Twelve-neck arc guitar: 2011

When I first saw this picture, I was sure it was a Photoshop job. Well, I was wrong. Yoshihiko Satoh strikes again!

This is called "Present Arms / Arc Type" and was made in 2011. It measures 230 x 118.5 x 6.5 cm.


There is a Wikipedia page on multineck guitars.


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