For most rockers it was Jimmy Page in The Song Remains the Same, but for me, it was seeing Alex Lifeson play “Xanadu” that started a lifelong fascination with doublenecks. There’s nothing quite like a doubleneck to embody the more-is-better ethos that guitarists know so well, and when a massive Fender case arrived at the office, I could barely contain my excitement. What we saw upon opening that case was this awesome sunburst/tortoiseshell creation. It took me a second to figure out exactly what it was: a Jazzmaster paired with a Bass VI. I tuned it up and started rifting and I was blown away by how great the setup was on both necks. Easy fretting and bending on the guitar side, smooth chording and tic-tac-ing on the bass half. Without even plugging in, this is an incredibly resonant instrument, because A) its body is as big as a coffee table and B) you can’t help but get righteous sympathetic vibrations from whatever neck you’re not playing on. I was instantly hooked and needed to plug in.
To amplify this beast, I ran into a DR. Z EZG-50 for huge clean sounds and into a Marshall JMP for world-destroying dirty tones. Navigating the control matrix took a little getting used to. The 2-position slider switch on the upper bout lets you toggle between Jazzmaster only (on rhythm pickup, with volume and tone handled by the cool roller knobs) and both necks on. I chose to run both necks, kicking the Bass VI neck in and out with the pickup on/off switches. The tones were what you expect from a Jazzmaster: brilliant chime and twang, with the ability to get into jazzier textures on the neck pickup and brash rock and surf sounds on the bridge. Switching over to the Bass VI was a mind-blower. I don’t consider myself a great bass player, but I do own a bass and when I play it, I really try to play it like a bass and not a guitar. This thing, however, with its guitar-down-an-octave tuning, is practically begging you to grab A and D chord shapes and move them around. When you do, it’s a huge and inspiring sound. The string spacing is tight, so I was more comfortable with a pick than fingerstyle but everything sounds good on this. And just when I thought it couldn’t be any more bitchin’, I took the two trem arms out of the case, installed them, and more than doubled my cool factor with amazing drunken Peter Gunn-isms on the Bass VI and trippy, drippy Ventures adventures on the Jazzmaster.
I can easily say that I’ve never played anything like this. I can also add that no one really needs this instrument, and, at eight large, very few can afford it. But I will say this without hesitation: Everyone who has the chance should try a Double Neck Jazzmaster/Bass VI because it’s just too much fun. And, if you do, have a friend take your picture with it. Come on … you know you want to!