How a historic 5-necked wonder came to life in Hamer’s shop.
Sometimes you get lucky, but it pays to be prepared to wait. With the news that Cheap Trick has been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after 40 years of constant hard work, I imagine the band feels more dedicated than charmed. Let's hope that the Hall of Fame doesn't forget how truly unique Cheap Trick has always been.
I feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time in 1981 when the phone rang and Rick Nielsen was on the other end of the line. By then, I'd gotten used to frequent brainstorming/request sessions with the Cheap Trick founding father, so I was not surprised when Nielsen broached the idea of a multi-neck instrument that would stop the show. Little did we know that this neck-heavy concept would be both a crowning achievement and an albatross around both our necks.
By the time anyone outside of the Midwest club circuit had heard of Cheap Trick, the Hamer guitar brand was well established in the U.S. and Europe. Bands such as Bad Company, Jethro Tull, Wishbone Ash, and many others were early endorsers, and shops around the world stocked our wares. Fellow guitar collectors Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson were friends from the old days of prowling through pawnshops for vintage guitars on the cheap. The boys from Rockford, Illinois, were serious musicians and students of guitar history, but also great people with a decidedly serious sense of humor.
As Hamer resurrected the defunct and discarded Explorer shape in 1974, Nielsen grabbed one of the first and made it his signature axe. He recognized its lineage—the bastard son of a '59 Sunburst Les Paul and the rarely-if-ever-seen "lightning bolt" Explorer—and the guitar was perfect for his dual-citizenship personality. Despite its outsized appearance, we named it the Standard.
Before long, we'd constructed an entire fleet of personalized permutations for Nielsen, including a mandocello variation in 1977, the now-famous checkerboard-finished version in 1978, the "Coffee Table" graphic, and the early Floyd-Rose equipped "Yellowbird" in 1979. As the sight-gag graphics increased in number, the stature of Cheap Trick's fortune was growing even faster. The band had reached saturation on TV and radio by 1979, and they were dragging us right along for an epic ride. If there was any question about Cheap Trick's contribution to Hamer's exposure in the beginning, their massive success by the decade's end left no doubt.
When it was time to assemble the guitar, we realized what a behemoth it was.
It was while we were all riding pretty high that Nielsen inquired about the possibility of a multi-neck guitar to top all the others. According to Nielsen, he had originally envisioned a spinning guitar with six necks. But when ZZ Top appeared on TV with their spinning guitars, he changed his plan. He joked about wanting to outdo Rush, whose Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson both brandished double-necks simultaneously. In order to do this, we'd need at least five necks. In retrospect, the conversation was surprisingly short, and Nielsen left the fine details in my hands.
I walked back into the shop and flagged down the foreman, Steven Ward, to give him the overview. Because Nielsen wanted the guitar immediately, I decided to forgo the usual practice of creating drawings. We figured we'd use some existing bodies from the production rack so we could push the build ahead a few days. Steve and I laid out five Hamer Special body blanks right on the shop's enormous table-saw bed. We jockeyed the bodies around, stacked them on each other, and I marked out cut lines with a straightedge and pencil.
The challenge was to remove the parts of the bodies that had control routs, but still make it look like a usable guitar. Steve brought over a few raw necks so I could be sure of the headstock clearances. It was going to be tight. When we were sure things looked good, Steve got to work on the bandsaw. We then mocked up the assembly, I drew out the control locations, and sketched the swoopy blends right on the blanks between the necks so that Steve could finish up and bond them all together. The whole exercise took just a few hours.
Meanwhile, I went into the paint room to mix up a nice opaque-orange lacquer that would hide the multi-piece nature of the body and be bright enough to be seen from the last row in a stadium. After the necks were glued on, Steve drew the instrument's outline on brown craft paper to send to the case manufacturer before carrying the guitar into the spray booth.
When it came time to assemble the guitar, we realized what a behemoth it was. Each set of pickups and tuners added to its already hefty weight. After the last string was tuned, I took a few photos and put the guitar into the case to be shipped out immediately. I remember thinking that the guitar was pretty funny, but I had no idea how significant it would become.
My career has been dedicated to making instruments for serious musicians, regardless of how they choose to express themselves. I was proud of the way our team had produced the 5-neck guitar quickly for Nielsen, and how it became such an important part of Cheap Trick's show. Still, there was a stigma attached to it. Some people didn't get the joke. For awhile, I thought the 5-neck's cartoonish nature somehow overshadowed our artistry and the band's music—until it was displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2000. The now-famous orange guitar hung in a space where great works from the likes of Hockney, Hopper, Calder, and Monet are displayed. I guess the joke is on someone else now, and it was worth the wait. I hope Cheap Trick feels the same.
- Rig Rundown - Cheap Trick - Premier Guitar ›
- Cheap Trick: ... But Don't Give Yourself Away - Premier Guitar ›
- Rick Nielsen: His Checkered Past - Premier Guitar ›
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.