Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Steve Miller Guitar Collection - For Sale at the Music Zoo.

Some people call him the space cowboy yeah, 
Some call him the gangster of love, 
Some people call him Maurice, 
'Cause he speaks of the pompitous of love. 

Steve Miller
Over the years, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Steve Miller has amassed a collection of more than 450 guitars. The Music Zoo in Long Island, New York is selling about 25 instruments from his collection. Most notably are his Les Paul guitars.

Miller with Les Paul

Steve Miller gets his affection for Les Paul honestly since Les was his godfather.

Miller’s father was a jazz aficionado who met Les in 1948 when Les Paul and Mary Ford were playing at a Milwaukee jazz club. Dr. George Miller aka Sonny asked Les Paul if he would mind if he recorded his show on his tape recorder. (In addition to being a pathologist, Dr. Miller was a recording engineer).

Afterward, Les listened to the recording with Sonny and Bertha Miller and a friendship developed. It is worth noting that Steve's mother, Bertha, was a gifted jazz singer.) In fact Les and Mary spent the night at the Miller’s house.

As early as age 4, Les Paul encouraged Steve Miller to play guitar. The two men maintained contact with each other up though Les' passing.

Miller LP Recording
One of the first items to be sold was Miller’s 1976 Les Paul Recording guitar. Though this guitar never became a hit with players, it was an instrument that Les Paul personally designed and was one of his favourites.

This guitar featured low impedance pickups for recording that could changed to high impedance with the flip of a switch. These low impedance pickups were Les’ ticket to getting all those guitar overdubs back in the early days of multi-track recording.


By bouncing from track to track, the original signal dissipates with each successive pass. This does not happen with a low impedance signal.

The guitar could get a sound like a Rickenbacker, or back it off and it sounded like Wes Montgomery’s Gibson L-5.

Les Paul's personal
Recording Model
Les’ own Gibson Recording guitar sold at auction for $180,000 after his death. The buyer must have known it was Les’ favourite guitar.

In addition to Steve Miller's Les Paul Recording guitar, the Music Zoo is offering twenty-five of Miller’s personal instruments for sale to the public, and some are being sold at a very reasonable price.



Miller's 3 Eric Clapton Beano Les Pauls
Miller is parting with several replicas from the 2010 limited run of Eric Clapton’s famous 1959 Gibson “Beano” Les Paul. Clapton used this guitar when he played with The Blues Breakers.

Blues  Breaker cover -Clapton with Beano comic
The cover photo of LP, Blues Breakers With John Mayall, features a young Clapton reading The Beano comic book. The Beano was a popular collection of comic strips that was available in the U.K. and is still in publication. Guitarists knew about the Les Paul that Clapton used during this era, hence the name. Unfortunately the original Beano guitar was stolen in 1966.

Les Paul Beano



Since then Gibson’s custom shop has made some replicas. Miller’s four Gibson Beano Les Pauls range from an asking price of $10,000 to $30,000 USD.



The Joker





There are also two Miller “Joker” Standard black Stratocasters for sale at $5,000





The Joker

Each guitar has a harlequin-like representation of The Joker on their bodies.

Four other Fender Stratocasters are offered.





Children of the Future



One is called Children of the Future. This was a guitar has a unique design on the front that is based on the cover of Miller’s Children of the Future LP.





Museum Stratocaster



The other strat is a Fender Museum American Standard model in Olympic White with a maple neck and is autographed by other guitarists. Etched in the top of the body is the Fender Museum logo.




Miller Stratocaster


The third strat is a black Fender of unspecified vintage. It has a maple neck and the body is tastefully bedecked with a white/black emblem from the end of the bridge unit to the back of the guitar, and an orange Fender sticker that says “I’m a Champion” with Steve Miller’s autograph.





Bolin Stratocaster
The fourth Stratocaster style guitar that was made by John Bolin guitars of Boise Idaho. The body one this instrument is finished in white, and the neck is made of birdseye maple. There is no logo on the headstock.

There are only two acoustic instruments being offered. Both guitars are 12 string models made by Martin.

Martin J-12 40e


One is a Martin Grand J-12 40E, that has a bound neck, and headstock, and lovely rosette work. The top is made of solid Sitka spruce, while the bookmatched back, and sides are solid east indian rosewood. The Martin logo is inlaid in abalone in the headstock. At $5,000 it is a bargain.




Martin J-12SO
The other Martin is a 12 string Martin Sing J-12SO 60th Anniversary Pete Seeger model baritone guitar meant to be tuned from low to high C. This guitar was based on Pete’s personal 12 string guitar made by luthier G. Stanley Francis of Liverpool, UK, that had unusual pickguards. The top is solid Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are east Indian rosewood. The 27.5” scale neck is made of mahogany with an ebony fretboard. The headstock veneer appears to be made of polished ebony with Seeger’s signature and his sketch of a banjo. It is also selling at $5,000.

Vallee electric
Mandolin
The most unusual instrument being offered is Miller’s 5-string electric mandolin that was made by Joe Vallee. This electric mandolin has a unique shape and comes with a single lipstick pickup and a tune-o-matic bridge. The instruments top is a lovely red-orange burst, while the back shows the natural wood patina. The fitted neck is made of three pieces. Because of the mandolins unusual shape, instead of a case, it comes with a padded “Wilson” brand tennis racket soft case.

Bolin Pegasus
Miller’s collection includes one archtop, jazz style model, which was made by Bolin guitars. It is called The Pegasus. The top appears to be spruce, with maple used for the sides, back, and neck. The “F” holes are done in an unusual Pegasus design. This guitar has twin EMG pickups with one volume and two tone controls. The bound maple neck is topped with a rosewood fretboard with unique position markers. The headstock shape is also quite unique and topped with birdseye maple veneer. The strings go over and ebony bridge with adjustable saddles and are attached to an ebony violin style tailpiece.

Bolin
Semi-Hollowbody

Miller's collection includes two other Bolin model. This one is in the shape of a Gibson ES-335. The bound top is flamed maple that is book matched with a sunburst style. The guitar includes two humbucking pickups, with only a single volume and tone control, plus a selector switch. The bound back is equally impressive with book matched flamed maple. The flamed maple neck has a single skunk stripe. It is offered at $5,000.

Bolin Les Paul Style Guitar
The other is a gorgeous Les Paul style guitar in a cherry sunburst finish with Seymour Duncan 50th Anniversary pickups. It is priced at $5,000.

2011 Lou Pallo



Another one of Miller's Gibson Les Paul is available for $5,000. This is a 2011 Lou Pallo Signature model. It has a beautiful black top and a natural back. Lou Pallo was the guitarist that played in the Les Paul Trio.




Gibson EDS-1275

The Miller collection includes not one, but two Gibson EDS-1275’s, The first custom shop double six 12 string has an all white finish. It is wired in the same manner as Don Felder of the Eagles had his guitar wired, and is even autographed by Felder on the back of the headstock and numbered. It comes with a certificate and a copy of sheet music for Hotel California that is signed by Felder.



Gibson EDS-1275


The other EDS-1275 is a 2008 custom shop version of the famous double neck used by Jimmy Page on Stairway to Heaven. It comes with a certificate of authenticity and is one of 250 instruments produced. Both double necks come with the original hard-shell cases.



Gibson Les Paul Jr.



Steve Miller is also offering his White Les Paul Jr that was made by Gibson’s custom shop.

Aside from the Clapton Beano replica Les Paul’s, Miller has three other excellent Les Paul guitars.





Pearly Gates LP



Two of them are Gibson Billy Gibbons Pearly Gates Les Paul guitars with VOS (vintage original spec) nitrocellulose finishes.







Pearly Gates LP


Both are 2009 models that were produced in limited editions from Gibson’s custom shop and are replicas of the Reverend Gibbons famous 1959 Les Paul right down to the exact neck profile. Both guitars contain twin Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pickups with vintage hardware.





Haynes LP
The final Les Paul is a Gibson custom shop recreation of Warren Hayne’s 1958 Les Paul in what is described as “Haynes-burst”, which is a faded out cherry sunburst finish that has been faithfully  recreated on this instrument. The guitar is autographed by Haynes on the back of the headstock.

It features all the changes that Warren Haynes included on his own instrument. The frets come over the binding, which most professional luthiers and guitar techs would frown upon, but this is Haynes’ preference.

The pointer under the controls lay flat against the body, and this instrument is equipped with Gibson’s CAE sound-unity gain buffer, which keeps the levels consistent on both pickups when raising or lowering volume. The Haynes Les Paul is equipped with twin Burstbucker pickups.

Asher Tele style

The final guitar offered from the MIller collection is a black 2010 Asher Telecaster style guitar. This is a custom made guitar from Los Angeles luthier Bill Asher. The body is made of alder and the 22 fret neck is Birdseye maple, with a six on a side headstock. The pickups are hand wound Asher T-blade models. It features a Glendale bridge and chrome hardware. It is offered at $3,500 USD.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click the links in the text for additional information.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)





Monday, June 12, 2017

Double Neck Guitars

The first multi-neck guitars were more than likely harp guitars. These instruments sometimes had an additional neck used to attach the bass strings, harp or sympathetic string and the tuning pegs.  
The earliest example of a true double neck guitar is from the year 1690. A guitar of that era, small by today’s standards, was built by luthier Alexandre Voboam of Paris. This unique guitar had a smaller sized guitar jutting out of the instruments lower portion. Both guitars/necks had five courses of gut strings; however the smaller guitar/neck was tuned to a higher pitch. This allowed the player to play in a low key or a high key and use similar fingerings.


Harp guitars and other multi-neck instruments were not produced on a large scale until the late 19th Century. These were instruments that allowed an individual player the ability to produce a much broader sound due to the addition of bass strings or sympathetic strings. 



The sympathetic strings were not strummed or plucked, but naturally made sound based on the vibrations of the fingered strings.  There were few mandolin/guitar combinations produced in this era that allowed the player to change instruments during a song or saved them from having to carry two different instruments. Plus a double neck guitar looks great on stage.


One impetus that may have caused the creation of double neck guitars was the rise of interest in the steel or Hawaiian guitar.  

During the late 18th Century, Spanish speaking Mexican cowboys arrived in Hawaii bringing with them their guitars. The arrival of the guitar in Hawaii could also be attributed to missionaries. 


Hawaiians took to the instrument andmade the guitar their own by tuning it differently and often to open chords.  

As the years progressed, we can turn to the early 20th Century when Hawaiian music became popular inthe United States

During this fad, guitar companies including Martin built instruments that were meant to be played on a persons lap. Instead of fingering chords and notes these guitars were played by use of a metal bar pressed against the strings.  It wasn’t too long before the lap steel became electrified.


Since a lap steel player was limited to keys within the open chord which the instrument was tuned, the obvious answer was to add another neck that was tuned to a different chord. By the 1920’s and 1930’s folks like Alvino Rey were playing multi neck electric steel guitars with popular orchestras. Rey had Gibson Guitars build a double neck steel guitar for him and not long after he was playing three and four necksteel guitars.

During the era of World War II, much of the guitar building business was halted as manufacturers turned their attention and fabrication to building weapons and vehicles for the United States armed forces.  


By the end of the war, Leo Fender had his own radio and television business in California.  He also repaired guitar amplifiers. 




It was not long before he realized a profit could be made by building amplifiers forthe electric steel guitar players from nearby Los Angeles and the surrounding area.  He teamed up with his friend, Clayton “Doc” Kauffmann who had worked for Rickenbacker Guitars. The two men began designing and building steel guitars, and electronic pickups.  

Traveling musicians stopped by and provided ideas of their needs. Fender went on to build two and three neck steel guitars, before turning attention to the electric Spanish guitar.


Meanwhile in another part of California, motorcycle enthusiast, Paul Bigsby, was casting his own parts for his bike. He began building his own version of the electric Spanish guitar. Though his instruments may have looked like solid body instruments, they were actually hollow to hold the wiring. Bigsby also built a vibrato unit that gave players an added dimension to their sound. His version of the guitar vibrato was built out of motorcycle parts including piston springs.






Guitarist Grady Martin asked Bigsby to build him a guitar that also had a mandolin-like neck. What resulted was an instrument which had a guitar neck, with three pickups and a Bigsby vibrato and a smaller neck with six individual strings tuned an octave higher. It wasn't a mandolin, as the strings were individual and not in courses, but itdid give Martin a unique sound

Apparently Grady Martin’s Bigsby Double Neck was not the first that Paul Bigsby built. He built at least six double neck instruments. In those days, production records were at best sketchy.


$266 K Bigsby

It is worth noting that recently a 1949 Bigsby guitar sold at auction for over a quarter of a million dollars.

One of Bigsby’s employee’s was Semie Moseley. This is the same Semie 
Moseley that went into business in a Bakersfield California garage, building his own brand and naming it Mosrite Guitars. 


Around this same time, the early 1950’s, Joe Maphis was a popular Country and Western guitarist and was a regular performer on a television show produced out of Los Angeles called TownHall Party. Maphis’ style was playing blazing fast arpeggios on the guitar. 
Semie Moseley struck up a friendship with Joe Maphis and his wife Rose. Rose Maphis played rhythm guitar with her husband.  Moseley built several beautiful personalized double neck guitars for Maphis. He even took Rose’s Martin guitar and customized it with a handmade Mosrite neck and he added a fancy large pickguard to the dreadnoughts body.

The exposure Maphis brought to Mosrite guitars paid off big time. A similar double neck instrument was custom made for pint-sized Larry Collins who was Maphis’ protégé and could match Joe note for note. All of the early double neck guitars Semie Moseley made had a guitar neck and an octave guitar neck.



Moseley did create one triple neck guitar in 1954. This instrument included a guitar neck, an octave guitar neck and a mandolin neck. 
While on that subject, it is possible that Doc Kauffmann, who was Leo Fender’s long time business partner might have built a triple neck guitar under the brand Kremo Kustom. It is known that Kauffmann didbuild some guitars using that brand name.
Another builder was a South Carolina fellow named Pee Wee Melton. He built a triple neck guitar for himself, but later sold it to Johnny Meeks. Meeks claim to fame was as one of the guitarist who played for Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps. It was an attention-getter. Meeks eventually sold the guitar to Vincent. 

But here I am digressing from the topic of double neck guitars.


In the mid 1960’s when Semie Moseley’s Mosrite Guitar Company was doing a brisk business, the company did offer a production twelve/six string double neck guitar for sale to the public. This guitar featured a twelve string neck on the guitars top and a six string neck underneath. Both sported twin Mosrite single coil pickups with black covers. The twelve string utilized Mosrite’s version of tune-o-matic bridge and the strings were anchored onto a chromed bar held into the body by three wood screws. 

The six string neck featured Mosrite’s classic vibramute vibrato. The necks had micro-dot position markers on the rosewood fretboard. All Mosrites had a zero fret. These guitars were offered in various colors, with the most popular being sunburst.



Hallmark Guitars are stillin business. This company was started by Joe Hall. This story about Hall’s relationship with Semie Moseley is very interesting. He had asked Semie to build him a guitar. Somehow Hall wound up working at Mosrite and learned to build guitars using Semie’s methods.

Joe Hall left Moseley’s employment and building guitars under his own brand, that bore Mosrite traits. Hall’s most popular model was called the Swept Wing. 

I do not know how many double necks he built. This guitar was specially built for Deke Dickerson.

After Moseley and Bigsby’s creations, it was not too long before other guitar companies began to eyeball the prospect of making double neck guitars.


One of the first that I came across was Carvin Guitars of California. Lowell C. Kiesel’s company first offered double necked electric guitars in their 1959 catalog. Long before the internet this company based their sales on catalogs. They still do. I recall ordering a Carvin catalog around 1963. What I received was a very plain document with black and white pictures of the guitars, guitar kits and amplifiers that Carvin offered. 

I also received a typewritten page of price updates. During the early days of Carvin some of the guitars featured necks and bodies made by the Hofner Company of Germany.


Their first double neck offering was a guitar and bass. The necks were the same length, so the bass was short scale. The body was made of maple. The guitar had twin single coil pickups that were about the size of P-90’s, while the bass had just one pickup. 

Their other double neck was a guitar and an eight string mandolin combination that came with a similar set up. These guitars were very plain and had a natural finish. The small bodies on these guitars were unusual  

These styles were offered through 1967.

By 1968, the Carvin double neck had more of a guitar shaped body with necks probably imported from Hofner. By 1971, the guitar neck was similar, but the bass neck had a more refined headstock. In 1972, Carvin changed the shape of the twelve/six model.   
It was in 1976 that the Carvin double neck guitar had a body that looked more like a small Les Paul. The necks were bound and topped with an ebony fretboard. The large rectangular position markers were made of mother-of-toilet seat. The humbucking pickups came with a chrome cover. The 1978 catalog shows a similar body with open humbucking pickups. 


These instruments looked more like the guitars that we now associate with the Carvin Company. 

By 1979 the double neck was no longer offered. By 1980, the double neck was back with a new improved shape.  

In 1990-91 Carvin offered a twelve/six model. Both had pointy headstocks and tuner on one side. By 199, Carvin discontinued their line of double neck guitars as a standard option.
Jimmy Bryant was a well known guitarist in the 1950’s.  Much like Maphis, Bryant’s style was fast, but more in the jazz and swing realm. Early on Bryant was one of the first Fender endorsers playing a Fender Broadcaster. But he was looking for a new sound and came upon a guitar builder from Springfield Missouri that was building guitars under the name Stratosphere Guitar Company.  


They built a Six and Twelve String double neck for Bryant. He used this guitar throughout his career. The Stratosphereguitar was rather unusual looking. It sported the maple twelve string neck on top and the maple six string neck underneath. Oddly, the headstocks for both necks were slotted. The body was offset and small. There were two single coil pickups for each neck. The neck pickups were parallel and the bridge pickups were slightly slanted. 

Both necks had steel offset bridges and stop plates to attach the strings. A switch was near the stop plates that allowed the player to switch the necks on or off. There were two sets of controls, volume and tone for each neck as well as selector switches. There is also a slider switch on the lower side of the instrument.  

Bryant tuned the six string neck in a normal manner; however, he tuned the twelve string neck to major and minor thirds.


1958 was a risky year for Gibson guitars. This was the year they introduced their ‘Future guitars’ lineup which included the Flying Vee, the Explorer and the elusive Futurama. But Gibson spotted the double neck trend and jumped into the market with two different double neck guitars.

The first was called the Double Twelve. This was later designated the EDS-1275 (Electric Double Spanish.) 

The Double Twelve was a beautiful instrument. The body on these instruments was different than the SG shape we associate with the EDS-1275. The Double Twelve came with two humbucking pickups per neck. 


A switch near the bridge plate provided the option of switching the electronics to either neck. The electronics were two volume and two tone controls and a pickup selector switch that controlled the pickups on either neck. The twelve string neck was on top with the six string neck on the bottom. In my opinion this was possibly the finest looking of all the twelve string double necks. The double cutaway body was thicker than the SG and it was bound in white trim.


The company also offered the Double Mandolin. This later was named the EMS-1275 (Electric Mandolin Spanish). This was similar to the double necks that Moseley and Bigsby had made in that it came with a guitar neck and an octave guitar neck. The guitar neck sported twin humbuckers, while the mandolin neck only had a single humbucker. Once again, the body shape was much different than the SG shape. 

The controls for each neck were mounted on the lower bout under each neck. Both featured a single volume and tone control per neck. The switches were mounted near the string stop plate. The one for the guitar side controlled the neck and bridge pickups, while the switch mounted near the octave guitar neck controlled which neck was active. This instruments body was also bound in white trim.


1965 EDS 1275
It was in 1962-63 both of these double neck instruments were reinvented using the SG shape. Gibson also added EBS-1250 to the line up. This was a combination of a six string guitar and a four string bass guitar. The bass guitar came with a built-in fuzztone. This line up was offered through 1967, with the double bass being offered through 1968.
The EDS-1275 was revived in 1974 and offered through 1998. The Nashville factory continued to build the EDS-1275 through 2003. The Gibson Custom Shop began building the EDS-1275 in 2006. 


The Epiphone version has been available for many years under the model G-1275. I believe the initial models sold under the Epiphone brand had bolt-on necks. The current production model comes with set necks.



1963 Danelectro

Nate Daniels had been building amps since 1948. His amplifiers were mainly sold through catalog companies such as Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Wards. 

It was not until 1956 that he introduced the Danelectro line of guitars. 



Danelectro entered the double neck market with its 1959 advertisement of Stan and Dan; two clean-cut young men of the day both decked out with white shirts, Hagar slacks and DanelectroShorthorn double neck guitars. The top neck was a six string guitar and the bottom neck was a bass guitar. 


While the guitar was a normal 24.75” scale with 21 frets, the bass had a short scale of 29.5” with only 15 frets. The Danelectro double neck was also available as a six string guitar and six string baritone guitar. 

As usual, both necks had two Dano lipstick pickups. 


The Masonite Danelectros lasted until 1966 when Daniels sold the company.  In 1998 the company was resurrected under new ownership. This company made guitars through 2001.  They offered two versions of the double neck. One was a six/twelve string model and the other was a six string guitar and a six string baritone guitar. Both were nice instruments with a great price. 

Danelectro guitars looked cheap, but sounded great and were used on countless recordings.


In 1961 Gretsch Guitars was looking for new ideas and came up with the Gretsch Bikini Guitar. This was one very odd concept. It was sold as a guitar or a bass guitar or as a double neck bass and guitar. The neck/pickup/bridge unit was mounted so it could slide out of the body. The body had a hinged back and could be folded down the middle. The player could fold back the body of the separate instruments and combine them into a double neck. This was one of those gems that looked good in theory, but was not at all practical.

This is a Gretsch Anniversary double neck. Gretsch currently offers a guitar/baritone guitar doubleneck.

After the British Invasion a flood of Japanese and Korean made guitars arrived in the United States. As you may have guessed some of these were double neck guitars. Greco/Kawai was a Korean manufacturer. This is a 1968 Bass/Guitar double neck.
This is a 1970 Aria copy of a Gibson double neck.

I have noted that some early Carvin guitars were made of Hofner parts. Note the similarity between this Hofner double neck from the very early 1970’s and Carvin’s double neck of the same era.
Another German guitar manufacturer named Hoyer built this 1970’s model.

Rickenbacker built and offered several models of double neck guitars including a bass/six string using their 4001 template and a twelve/six string using their 360 design.
The B.C. Rich, Ibanez and Kramer guitar companies have all built special order guitars for artists, such as Eddie Van Halen, Michael Angleo Batio, and Dave Mustaine. 


Often these guitars have two six string necks and are played by using the tapping method.
There were and are a few companies that make acoustic double neck guitars. For years Ovation guitars offered a twelve/six model. This is now made offshore under their Celebrity brand.

1979 Yairi DY 87

Around 1979 Yairi guitars offered the model DY 87. This was a wonderful guitar. It sounds great and very easy on the fingers. 


In the late 1990's, the Washburn Guitar Company offered a twelve / six string guitar designated the model EA220 six/twelve string guitar in
their Festival Series.


I have recently profiled Blueberry Guitars. They make some fine instruments with intricate inlay and wood carving designs. All their guitars are handmade. 




They offer several double neck models which include a six / twelve string guitar, a double neck with two six string necks and fan frets, as well as a six string / 4 string acoustic bass guitar. Blueberry does not sell it’s instruments in stores. Business is done only online. 



A group of player with  their
Terry Neil McArrthur Double necks

Terry Neil McArthur is a luthier that has been around for a while building double neck guitars in the style of Semie Moseley. He has built instruments for many, many players including Deke Dickerson. He sure makes some beautiful handmade guitars.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)






Here is a Martin Double Neck Guitar made by their custom shop.







The clip below will give a better understanding of Jimmy Bryants odd 12 string tuning on his Stratosphere double neck. On the 12 string neck each string has two pitches that mimic the sound of two guitars. A guitarist today could use a harmonizer for the same effect. In 1956 that technology did not exist.