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3 Weird Guitars

May 10, 2016

Most major rock guitarists have custom instruments built for them. Some are truly odd.

Rick Nielsen’s Multi-Neck Guitars

Cheap Trick is probably most memorable for two things: “I Want You to Want Me” and Rick Nielsen’s two-, three-, four-, and five-neck guitars. Up until about 1980, he’d line up as many as five different guitars (which produced slightly different sounds and effects) for his guitar solos, until he thought it would be both practical and visually interesting to just combine multiple guitars into a single instrument—as many necks as he wanted on one body. (His first idea was a guitar with one body and six necks that would spin around like a roulette wheel.) By 1981, manufacturer Hamer had begun constructing Nielsen’s guitars.

ZZ Top’s Spinning Guitars

When MTV came on the scene in the early ‘80s, ZZ Top capitalized, making memorable music videos that showcased the band’s unique look: two guys with long beards who played guitars covered in fur that spun around in unison. The guitar was conceived in the late ‘60s by Don Summers, bassist in Moving Pictures (ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons’ previous band). Manufactured by Dean Guitars—its official name is the Spinning Fur Dean Z—a rotating electrical connection is placed on the guitar, and attached to the guitarist’s belt buckle. Wireless transmitters allow the guitars to be spun without losing a signal. (As for the fur? That just looks cool.)

The Edgar Winter Group’s Guitar Suit

Dan Hartman is a one-hit wonder best known for his 1984 synth pop hit “I Can Dream About You.” Before that he was the bass guitarist and singer in the Edgar Winter Group and in 1974 he was a pioneer of wearable guitars. He had a guitar tech sew cordless microphones and amplifiers into a one-piece silver jumpsuit. Hartman would put on the suit, plug in his bass, and play. He was free to roam the stage without worrying about cords, while also being able to “feel” the music. (Hartman stopped wearing the “guitar suit” after just a few months.)

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Moving Pictures was an Australian band that had some success in the 80’s, with their hit ‘What About Me’ making it onto the Billboard 100 list. Think Billy Gibbons’ previous band was The Moving Sidewalks.

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