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Jimmy Page onstage with Led Zeppelin in 1975.
Photo by Ron Akiyama courtesy of Frank White Photo Agency.

From the primitive examples dating back to 1690, to the more modern Gibson offerings, we trace the important moments in the development and rise in prominence of multi-neck guitars.

[Originally published December 16, 2009]
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.

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The consummate thumbpicker demos his two-sided flattop and keeps his father Merle Travis’ memory alive with a collection of instruments made in tribute.

Thom Bresh and Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger spent the afternoon at the Nashville Musician’s Union rehearsal hall talking guitars, early Hollywood, film, wine, and more. Bresh is not only one of the greatest thumbpickers of all time, he may be the most interesting man in the world.

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Photo by Andy Ellis

It’s all about melody, reverb, and loud amps.

Beginner

Beginner

• Explore fundamental twangy guitar techniques.

• Learn what gear provides that magical twangy sound.

• Discover how to create your own instrumental guitar versions of timeless folks songs.

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Unlike many of my previous lessons for Premier Guitar, where I’ve broken down techniques into discrete parts, this time I’ve chosen to emulate many of the legends of the 1950s and ’60s by arranging classic folk melodies for twang guitar. For instance, in 1959 Johnny and the Hurricanes recorded the folk tune “Red River Valley” under the name “Red River Rock,” which the Ventures later covered. The Ventures also recorded the Bahamian folk tune “Sloop John B,” Roy Clark recorded “Weepin’ Willow Twist” (his version of the old-time/bluegrass standard “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree”), and, of course, there’s Dick Dale’s version of “Miserlou,” an Eastern Mediterranean folk melody. Thus, I’m following in their footsteps. Each piece features highlighted twang characteristics such as bends, hammer-ons, whammy bar technique, and effects.

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