What Is The Purpose Of A Double Neck Guitar

 What Is The Purpose Of A Double Neck Guitar


As far as anyone knows, doubleneck guitars have been around as long as the guitar itself. Even still, guitars with more than one neck have always been a bit of a curiosity, never the norm. The far majority of players seem to have more than enough on their hands just working one set of strings. Some players, it seems, need more. So while we may take multi-neck guitars for granted as mere novelties, the roots of their existence, like many innovations, lie in necessity. The impetus for a guitar with more than one set of strings lies in two needs: tone and tuning. The player needs either an alternate sound or pitch from the main instrument.

One of the earliest examples of a multi-neck guitar is dated to circa 1690, and built in the style of the famed Alexandre Voboam. It is a small-sized guitar with an even smaller, almost ukulele-sized, guitar grafted to its treble side. This instrument would have been made for a professional musician who performed with an ensemble or orchestra. The purpose of the second set of strings was to allow the player to transpose on the fly.


Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, multi-necked guitars appeared on a semi-regular basis, but never in any kind of large-scale production. It wasn’t until the 1890s, when modern manufacturing methods facilitated a sharp increase in instrument production, that multi-neck instruments could be made and distributed in the kind of scale that would allow for widespread usage. As multi-neck guitars began to be used more frequently, there became a greater and greater demand for the instrument—it built upon itself.


The double-neck guitars of the 1890s reflected the tastes of the times. What became popular were things like harp guitars, lute guitars and mandolin guitars. The playing method differed from instrument to instrument. On the harp guitar, the extra strings were intended to mostly drone along with the guitar. On a mandolin guitar, one neck was played at a time. While none of these instruments set the world on fire, they did achieve enough popularity to establish the concept of a multi-necked guitar as a viable instrument.

The first, and most common, is beeing able to have a 6-string on one neck and a 12-string on the other. A 12-string guitar has an extra set of strings on it. The top 4 stings have a smaller wound sting to ring an octave higher than its root note. The bottom 2 strings have the extra strings to double the same note. An good example would be Led Zeppelin's "Over the Hills and Far Away." At the begining of the song, he (Jimmy Page) is useing 6 strings. When he repeats the riff again, he is useing 12. Morello uses the 12 strings on "The Ghost of Tom Joad" to give the riff a little more thickness to it.


Other double-neck guitars will sometimes be tuned differently, and some even have a guitar neck on one and a bass neck on the other. I have no clue what Rick Nielson does with his 5 neck guitar.


It depends on the purpose of the guitar. Some are made of a regular 6 string rhythm guitar matched to a Bass guitar. Some are 12 strings matched with 6 strings. You could have two 6 stringers each tuned for diferent chords.

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