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Music Thing: The Triple Neck Guitar

Peter Rojas
Three neck guitar
Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out these days. Last Saturday it was the the Chiclet DSP Music Box, this week it's the triple neck guitar:

As a protest against the boring black boxes on display at the AES (Audio Engineering Society) Convention in San Francisco this weekend, I'm looking at the ultimate example of dumb-ass rock gear excess this week: The Triple Neck Guitar.
Like spandex trousers, custom-painted Lear jets and decaying nostrils, Twin-neck guitars are a rock essential. The idea is that you have, for example, a 12-string guitar for the folky bits, then a 6-string for the solo (If you're playing 'Stairway to Heaven').

But in rock, there's always someone wanting to go one further. And triple-necks aren't new. In 1954 Semie Mosely built a triple neck guitar in his garage (two guitar necks, one mandolin). Semie later founded Mosrite Guitars, favoured by the Ramones and Kurt Cobain, who were both disappointingly fond of the single-necked instrument.

Three neck guitar

Things were very different in the early 70s. When Prog Rock bands started doing things like Rick Wakeman?s ?King Arthur on Ice?, excessive times called for excessive instruments. Rick?s bass player got British bass-maker Wal to build him a three-necked bass/bass/guitar monstrosity, which was later inherited by Chris Squier of Yes. Inevitably, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin appeared a couple of years later with a vast semi-acoustic mandolin/mandolin/bass.

 Then punk arrived, and it was a dark time for all multi-necked instruments. Almost a decade passed until, during the filming of David Lee Roth?s ?Skyscraper? video, guitarist Steve Vai took delivery of a new guitar he?d had built. It had three necks ? two on the right, one on the left (so he could play two necks at once, sort of). It was the birth of a new era.

Today, triple neck guitars are still rare, because they?re huge, heavy, expensive and utterly pointless. They?re an obscene symbol of self-indulgence, like Missy Elliot?s Lamborghini bed, or Snoop?s jewel-encrusted crunk cup.

But a little-known guitar company called Galveston (which specializes in gimmicks ? Perspex guitars and metal guitars) has now brought the triple-neck to the masses, mass-producing them and importing a handful into the US. There?s one for sale here on eBay for $799.

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