What is the Point of a Double Neck Guitar?


Ever wondered what the point in a double neck guitar is? Is it just to look different? Or is there a purpose? Are they harder to play than single neck guitars?

In this article, I’ll be answering all the questions you’ve ever wondered about guitars with two necks. So let’s get started!

The Quick Answer

Double neck guitars have a 6 string neck, and a 12 string neck. This allows you to play songs that require certain sections to be played on a 6 string, and other sections that need 12 strings. Double neck guitars were created so you don’t have to keep swapping guitars mid-song, or having to wear two guitars. 

Some double neck guitars instead have one neck that is setup as a standard 6 string, and the other neck that’s set up as a bass guitar. 

How to Play on a Double Neck Guitar

Playing a double neck guitar isn’t that much different to playing on with a single neck. They essentially are just two guitars combined into one.

The upper neck, will have 12 strings. And the lower neck will have 6 strings.

If you only need a 6 string guitar to play a section of a song, then you just use the lower neck and pluck the strings on the lower half of the body.

Then when you require 12 strings, you can use the upper neck. 12 string guitars have all the strings in pairs. So for example, the top two strings will both be E strings, but the lower string will be an octave lower. Check out this diagram below. 

You have to keep a few things in mind when playing a two neck guitar.

  • They are much larger and heavier than standard single neck guitars. So you can use a mount or stand to take this weight and make life easier.
  • If you’re playing without a stand or mount, then you’ll need to position your strap so that it is comfortable for both necks. This usually means it’s a little lower than you’d normally have with a single neck guitar. 
  • You need to have good co-ordination to be able to switch between the two necks without getting confused. 

Pros of Double Neck Guitars

The advantage of a double neck guitar, is that it allows you to play a song that requires a 6 string guitar, and a 12 string guitar. 

You’ll be able to play both sections without having to swap guitars mid-song, or wearing two guitars and switching them round (which is a total nightmare). 

Unless you’re playing songs that require both a 6 string and 12 string guitar, you won’t really benefit from having two necks. 

Here’s a list of songs that require a double neck guitar.

  • Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin
  • The Rain Song by Led Zepplin 
  • Hotel California by The Eagles 
  • Xanadu by Rush
  • Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
  • Ain’t No Live in the Heart of the City by Whitesnake

Cons of Double Neck Guitars

Unfortunately, although double neck guitars can be pretty useful, they do have some drawbacks.

  • They’re heavy and awkward to hold. Most single neck guitars weigh 8 pounds, whereas double neck guitars often weigh around 14 pounds.
  • They can be difficult and confusing to play for beginners.
  • Double neck guitars are usually very expensive.
  • They’re harder and more time-consuming to tun, re-string and setup.

Double Neck Guitar Models

There are several different models of double neck guitars, here is a list of some of the most famous. 

  • Gibson EDS1275
  • Epiphone G-1275
  • Dean GS 
  • B.C Rich Bich
  • Gretsch Jet

Who Uses Them?

There are plenty of pro guitarists that have been seen with double neck guitars. Here’s a quick list:

  • Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
  • Matthew Bellamy of Muse 
  • Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac
  • Don Felder of The Eagles 
  • Lzzy Hale of Halestorm
  • James Hetfield of Metallica
  • Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age
  • Joe Perry of Aerosmith 
  • Slash of Guns N’ Roses
  • Mike Rutherford of Genesis 
  • Tom Petty
  • Steve Vau
  • Elvis Presley

Are They Worth the Money?

One of the biggest questions people always ask about double neck guitars, is if they’re actually worth the money. 

Double neck guitars are very expensive. Take the Gibson EDS-1275 for example. They are few and far between, but you can find second hand models for around $3000. But a new model will set you back nearly $6000. 

The single neck variant, the Gibson SG, costs around $1800. This is a huge difference in price. Especially considering you can pick up a really decent 12-string for under $1000. 

For double neck guitars, you will expect to pay around 3x what you would for the standard single neck version. 

It’s hard to say whether they’re worth the money or not.

If you’re in a band, and you really want to write music that requires you to play a 6-string and 12-string guitar in the same song, then it could be worth the money. It’ll stop you having to change guitars mid-song, so it can be really useful. But you’d have to be a pretty serious player for it to be worth it.

If you’re like pretty much every other guitarist, you won’t ever need a double neck guitar. Pretty much every song ever written doesn’t require you to use one, so you’ll rarely, if ever, notice that it’s a problem. 

Summing Up

So hopefully now you feel pretty clued up on double neck guitars. Here are a few of the take home messages of this article.

  • Double neck guitars usually have one 6-string neck, and one 12-string neck.
  • Some double neck guitars have one 6-string neck, and one bass-guitar neck with 4-strings.
  • They are used in songs where you need both a 6 string and 12 string guitar, and don’t want to keep swapping instruments mid song.
  • One of the most notable guitarists to have used a double neck guitar is Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page. 
  • The most popular double neck guitar model is the Gibson EDS1275. 
Advantages of Double Necks Disadvantages of Double Neck
They give you more versatility Heavy and uncomfortable
They’re required for certain songs Very expensive
They look pretty cool Harder to setup and tune

 

So there you go! That’s why some guitars have two necks! I hope you’ve found this article helpful, thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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