The guitarist rolls into Nashville with a crew of Les Pauls and Firebirds, a pair of 100-watters, and a fine spread of stomps.
Maestro Warren Haynes invited PG’s John Bohlinger to Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, where they hang out after Gov’t Mule’s soundcheck and take a tour through his live rig. This Gibson-heavy collection has been a 40-year-work in progress for the guitarist, who has spent his career playing with David Allan Coe, Dickey Betts, The Allman Brothers, The Dead, leading Gov’t Mule, and much, much more.
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“Chester,” the guitarist’s own signature Gibson Les Paul, was inspired by a ’58 body and ’59 neck, and is loaded with Burstbucker pickups and a switchable buffered preamp.
Big Red Two
“Big Red Two” is another of Haynes’ signature models, this time an ES-335, which is a copy of the guitarist’s PAF-loaded ’61 model.
Thanks to a pair of extra screw holes that were a factory accident, this flame-bedazzled tobacco ’burst LP was marked as a flaw and spent a couple years hanging around, unable to be sold. But back when he was in the Allman Brothers, Haynes visited Gibson and fell in love. He installed Classic ’57 pickups and he’s toured with it since.
The Dead Bird
Haynes picked up his blue mini-humbucker-loaded Gibson Firebird, “The Dead Bird,” when he was playing with the Grateful Dead in 2009 and says it “has a unique sound that’s somewhere between a Gibson and a Fender.”
Three's a Crowd
This Gibson Custom Shop Firebird is loaded with a trio P-90s and, like his other Firebird, stays tuned down a half step. Each of Haynes’ 6-strings are strung with GHS Nickel Rockers .010–.046.
It takes a massive headstock to fit a dozen strings on this Les Paul. Haynes keeps “Railroad Boy” tuned to drop D, and he uses its coil-tap switch for extra flexibility when needed.
100 Watts for Might
Haynes runs a two-amp rig and calls on each at different times—never both at once. On one side is his Soldano SLO-100, which the guitarist had modded by Mike Soldano to boost low-mid response at his preferred low preamp volume settings. The 100-watt head is paired with a Marshall cab loaded with a quartet of 75-watt Celestions.
Home Is Where the Tone Is
On the other side is a 100-watt Homestead head that Haynes runs into a 4x12 cab loaded with 25-watt Celestion Greenbacks.
Warren Haynes' Pedalboard
Haynes uses a Custom Audio Electronics MIDI foot controller to access most of his pedals, which live in an offstage rack. His Ernie Ball JP Jr. volume pedal, signature G-Lab WOWEE Wah WH-1, and a D’Addario tuner sit alongside.
And on the other is a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, G-Lab DR-3 Dual Reverb, DigiTech Hardwire DL-8 Delay Looper, MXR Carbon Copy, and a Boss GE-7 Equalizer.
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If you spend any time exploring the annals of Rickenbacker production history, you find a lot of unique, limited edition, and one-off instruments nestled in the sea of fireglo 360 12-strings and 4001 basses. In the 1950s, for example, Rickenbacker redesigned its lineup of newfangled solidbody models several times, making for an inconsistent smattering of now extremely rare guitars, like the Combo 400 and 850 models.
As early as the late 1960s, though, the company’s core lineup solidified, as bands like the Byrds and the Beatles propelled the Rickenbacker image into the popular consciousness. And while Rickenbacker’s catalog has remained fairly consistent since then—save for a major spec update in the early ’80s—the historic California builder has found plenty of space to market more adventurous instruments, like this column’s 362/12 doubleneck.
This close-up spotlights this guitar’s typical Rickenbacker 5-dial control set, with a toggle for the pickups, as well as the checkerboard binding that adds a touch of old-school class.
Officially introduced in 1975 with a list price of $1,500, the 362/12 was Rickenbacker’s first Spanish–style doubleneck, preceding the Geddy Lee–approved 4080 bass by two years. While catalog records show 1975 as the first year of production, it appears that at least one custom 362/12 was built for Roger McGuinn as early as 1972.
As the name implies, this model was very much a doubled version of the iconic 360. Like its single–neck counterpart, this instrument shipped with Rickenbacker Hi Gain pickups, with the familiar control set of five knobs and the Ric–O–Sound stereo output option. According to this instrument’s seller, two of the pickups on this particular specimen “were recently rewound to the proper specs by Lindy Fralin.”
Pardon my patina: This twin-headed axe sports the Rick-O-Sound stereo output option. Only one jack can be used at a time, and one of the outs is stereo-dedicated.
Indeed, as far as the spec sheet goes, the only real difference between the doubleneck and the normal 360 models is the inclusion of binding on the top of the body, which was phased out of the rest of the series by the early ’70s. An additional switch was also added to engage one of the two pickup sets.
The two glowing “R” tailpieces are another attractive appointment of this well-preserved vintage Rickenbacker—first made for the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn.
As a Rickenbacker product catalog from 1975 put it: “A flip of a switch lets the demanding performer change from 6- to 12-string sound on this Double Neck instrument. Combines all features of the Model 360 and 360/12. Double body, neck, and soundhole binding offers outstanding protection and beauty.”
The bulk of this Rickenbacker’s classic chime-y tone comes from the four Hi Gain pickups on its face, further complemented by the guitar’s semi-hollow construction.
While quite rare, these instruments do come up for sale periodically—typically commanding prices on today’s market between $6,000 and $8,000. This guitar is in excellent condition and will likely sell at the top of the range.
Sources for this article include Rickenbacker Electric 12 String: The Story of the Guitars, the Music, and the Great Players and The Ultimate Guitar Sourcebook, which are both by Tony Bacon. Catalog snippets were taken from Rickenbacker.com, with additional dates coming from Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars by George Gruhn and Walter Carter.