Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the Double-Neck & Jimmy Page

it's an iconic image.

the look... the stance, the "is it passion or a bowel movement?"
facial expression and the guitar. Jimmy Page and his double-neck
Gibson- the original "11".

in a time when guitars are as likely to have 5 coloured buttons
as they are to have strings, one of the original guitar heros playing
a Gibson EDS-1275 with 18 strings screams power, intensity
and excess... as well as un peu de nostagie, perhaps, for a time
that will not come again.

that said, Mr. Page was far from the first one to hit the stage
with so many strings at his command...

One of the earliest double-necks dates to circa 1690, almost 300 years before Zep walked on stage with one in Belfast in 1971. It was a small guitar, with another almost ukulele-sized guitar built into its treble side.

for the next few centuries, they were known
as harp guitars, and were found in many a parlour across Europe.
to be picky, the Gibson not a harp guitar because both necks have frets. harp guitars have strings beyond the fretboard intended to resonate and/or be plucked
... like a harp.

as music became electrified in the 20th century,
it was actually country musicians who first championed the double-neck. given their familiarity with the Electric Hawaiian guitars, it was an easy jump.

the Electric Hawaiians had already pioneered plugging
in and turning it up, as well as the advantages of having more than one neck in different tunings available on a moment's notice. for country bands, playing long nights for tough crowds, anything that could help keep things rolling was a good idea.

One of the earliest examples of a doubleneck electric guitar made for live performances combined an electric guitar with a mandolin.
It was made for country singer Grady Martin in 1952 by Paul Bigsby .

Martin played with Loretta Lynn, Sammi Smith, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Marty Robbins, Bing Crosby, Johnny Burnette, and many others including Willie Nelson and Roy Orbison. It was Grady who played that immortal guitar riff on “Oh, Pretty Woman”.

Some say the first modern electric double-neck guitarist was Otis W. “Joe” Maphis. Born in Suffolk, Virginia in 1921, Maphis could play guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin and worked with Tex Ritter, Wanda Jackson, Jimmy Dean and Rick Nelson.

a young Larry Collins plays with Joe Maphis

Two of his biggest fans were Johnny and June Carter Cash.
When he passed away in 1986, he was buried on their land, right beside Mother Maybelle Carter.

Larry Collins, with his wife Lorrie and Dick Dickerson.

Joe's double-neck had been built for him by a young man
who'd apprenticed with Bigbie, by the name of Semie Moseley.

 Semie Moseley also built
one of the prettiest double-necks ever made, for a young country musician named Barbara Mandrell.

it's possible he may have been
a little sweet on her.

His guitars were also popular with The Ventures, the MC5, Johnny Ramone, Tommy Tedesco, Davie Allan, Kurt Cobain, John Entwistle and Arthur Lee Love,

If you've heard the themes songs to Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Green Acres or Batman, you've heard
a Mosrite guitar. But I digress...

When Page walked onstage that night in Belfast in '71,
he brought that double-neck Gibson so
when they played ‘Stairway To Heaven’, he wouldn't have to change guitars in the middle.

Soon, he'd be using it when they played other Zep classics like ‘The Rain Song’, ‘Gallows Pole’ and ‘The Song Remains the Same’.

Earl Hooker, with his Gibson

He got the idea from blues artist Earl Hooker,
who played a Gibson 1275 sunburst.

According to BB King, Earl was "...the best of modern guitarists. Period.
With the slide he was the best. It was nobody else like him, he was just one of a kind"

Earl played with dozens of blues immortals, including his cousin John Lee Hooker. Together with Willie Dixon, they would write a few songs for Muddy Waters, including "You Shook Me" and "You Need Love".

Soon, it seemed like any guitarist who wanted to be taken
seriously had a double-neck.

John McLaughlin would be a major influence
on a generation of prog-rockers.

The riff that opens the Eagle's "Hotel California"?
... you guessed it.

the young Rush

Canadians were far from immune to the allure
of extra strings!

the Rheosatics remix a rejected design
for the Canadian flag.

...they were even found among the loft set in New York City.

Glenn Branca

Kiss used one to rock a wide variety of cities.

in Los Angeles, Slash was the go-to guy.

even Page's bandmate, John Paul Jones, got into it big time.

There were even some soft-rockers and folkies
who thought "hey! why not?"

But by the time jazz man Pat Metheny had this guitar built,
the great days of double-necking were clearly past.

It is Mr. Page whom history will snuggle most warmly
to her bosom... and if you doubt me....

See this fish? It was just discovered recently...
do you know what it's called?

It's a Lepidocephalichthys zeppelini.

to the man who found it, "the fish's pectoral fin reminded
him of the double-neck guitar used by Led Zeppelin band
member Jimmy Page."

"I'm a big Led Zeppelin fan, and I was listening to them
while I was working on the fish," Havird said. "The structure
that makes this species unique just reminded me of the guitar
that Jimmy Page played."

...and the beat goes on.

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