The wisdom(?) and experience of luthier Joe Veillette
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Double Necks ''R'' Us
September 7, 2017
In our tiny Woodstock, New York guitar shop, we usually only have five to seven instruments in progress at a time. Every instrument gets a lot of personal attention from beginning to end. We realized yesterday that we have three double necks under way right now. Pretty amazing considering what a novelty they are to most people..
Double necks always seemed so over-the-top to me, but now I really appreciate them. That started on a gig 7 years ago. Because of this band’s repertoire, it suddenly dawned on me that would great not having to switch between a 6 string and a 12 string guitar during the set. All of a sudden, it seemed like a double neck could be fun! And practical.
Does a Double Neck Instrument REALLY Have to be Heavy?
Of course, my next thought was that all the double necks I’ve ever seen weighed a ton. They were also terribly neck-heavy,.including one I made for a customer 25 years ago. He wanted the same size and layout (and weight) as Jimmy Page’s iconic “Stairway to Heaven” Gibson.
Here’s the weird part. The next evening my wife Kim and I were at a weekly boxing class, and our instructor decided that we should end with a 10 minute Savanasa – corpse pose. (I know boxing and yoga in one class. Only in Woodstock). Then, for some strange reason, as soon as we started, our teacher put on “Stairway To Heaven”. Of course, I couldn’t help noting where Jimmy Page changed between necks, and what a fun aspect that could bring. At that instant, I was totally hooked, and I set out to build the double neck instruments of my dreams. On my first try, I got really, really close to that goal. Then I made TWO of them. Soon I was using either an acoustic or electric double neck guitar on ALL my gigs. The instruments weighed 7 and 9 pounds each and they balanced great.
Players Started to Find Out About the Veillette Double Neck Guitars
Backstage at a Journey show a few months later, I mentioned the instruments to Neal Schon who already had 6 Veillette Guitars, and the upshot was an order for two electric double necks - one was a Gryphon 12 and a standard tuned 6-string, and a 14-string gryphon/7-string guitar (low B) pictured here.
Next was a solid-body Cuban Tres/standard 6 combo for Ben Lapidus who was playing a lot of Cuban dates with the remaining Buena Vista Social Club dudes. He travels constantly, previously with 2 guitars. With his double neck, and he’s got a compact, lightweight double neck guitar that fits into the smallest overhead compartments. "This is as good as it gets"..
A wide variety of these fun pieces - 22 in the last 6 years.
And just in the last year:
• two Mandolin/standard-6-strings,
• one acoustic parlor-sized Gryphon/Standard 12,
• one solid-body electric 6/12,
• a second Cuban Tres 6/Jazz standard 6,
• one acoustic Bari 12/Standard 12, and
• one Acoustic-electric Bari 6/Standard 6.
See some more Double Necks here.
Of course, the best part for us is hearing wonderful and unexpected music that people create on these pieces.
THAT’S why we design and build guitars! (Sometimes with SEVERAL necks).