Double-Neck Guitars

1959 Gibson Double-Neck

Color: Tobacco Sunburst, Rating: 9.25, Sold (ID# 01257)
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One of Just Fifteen Gibson Double Twelves Made in 1959

This custom built double-neck weighs just 10.50 lbs. (very light for one of these!). Each neck has a nut width of 1 11/16 inches and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Laminated maple body (just over two inches deep) with a fine-grained spruce top, two one-piece mahogany necks and Brazilian rosewood fretboards each with 20 original typical 1959 'jumbo' frets and inlaid pearl split-parallelogram position markers. The body of the guitar is triple-bound on the top and bottom. Each headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and two-layer (black on white) truss-rod cover with "Custom" engraved in white. Individual single-line Kluson Deluxe tuners with double-ring tulip-shaped Keystone plastic buttons (each tuner stamped on the underside "D-169400 / Patent No."). Four (double-black) PAF humbucker pickups (each with a small rectangular black label with "Patent Applied For" in gold and with outputs of 7.78k and 8.34k on the six-string and outputs of 7.85k and 8.13k on the twelve-string. Two five-layer (black/white/black/white/black) plastic pickguards with bevelled edges. Four controls (one volume and one tone for each guitar) plus a three-way pickup selector switch for each guitar and also a central three-way guitar selector switch. Gold plastic bell-shaped knobs with white markings. Each guitar with the original ABR-1 non-retainer Tune-O-Matic bridge. Original non-adjustable bar tailpieces (each with three screws) for both guitars. Two original strap buttons, one on the heel of the twelve-string neck and one on the lower edge of the guitar. This exceptionally rare instrument is in near mint (9.25) condition with just a few minor surface marks and abrasions on the spruce top. There is virtually no fret or fretboard wear and this wonderful double-neck sounds absolutely amazing. Housed in the original Gibson brown rectangular hardshell case with pink plush lining (9.00). (See and hear this guitar on our Youtube channel at:

According to Larry Meiners's Gibson Shipment Totals 1937-1979, only fifteen EDS-1275s (12-String + 6-String) out of a total of 39 guitars shipped bewteen 1958-60, were shipped in 1959. Most of the fifteen were finished in black or white. Legend has it that there were very few 1959 Sunburst EDS-1275s—and this is one them! Several years ago we had another example from 1958 with factory thin frets and a factory Bigsby unit on the six-string guitar. This 1959 EDS-1275 is the first example that we have seen with the '59 'jumbo' frets.

“Double-Neck Electric Guitars from the 1950s may have seemed pretty novel at the time, but multiple-neck instruments had in fact already cropped up several times in guitar history. Introduced in 1958, Gibson double-necks were the first commercially made instruments of this type, and could be custom ordered with a twelve-string, bass, or even mandolin neck paired to a regular six string. More guitar means more weight, so the first double-necks were made hollow with a spruce top on a maple back and sides, the double pointed cutaway body presaging the SG shape that Gibson used when remodeling their Les Paul guitars in 1961. Few double-necks survive from the 1960s [and far fewer from the 1950s], but after Jimmy Page used one for live performances of Led Zeppelin’s hit “Stairway to Heaven,” sales of these onetime curiosities increased dramatically. Page was aiming for practicality more than novelty, as “Stairway” calls for a quick switch between a twelve- and a six-string guitar. The effect of being seen with a twin-neck guitar onstage soon became so alluring that many players were willing to wrestle with this cumbersome behemoth whether or not they needed the instrument musically” (Darcy Kuronen, Dangerous Curves The Art of the Guitar, p.145).

"In 1958, Gibson took a new step in versatility by launching two double-neck models, respectively designated 'Double 12' (6 and 12 strings) and 'Double Mandolin' (6 strings and mandolin). The objective was simply to offer 'two instruments in one' to the guitarist who had to play several parts in an orchestra or who, was looking for new sounds, thanks to the resonance between the 2 necks. Both models were structurally identical and had a spruce top with maple back and rims. The necks were one piece mahogany while the bound fingerboard was rosewood, with parallelogram position markers. The double cutaway bodies of these instruments were hardly wider than a 'normal' guitar, as with a 17 1/4" width, they were within the dimensions of a Super 400. The depth, was limited to 1 7/8" so that the two guitars were not too cumbersome or heavy. On the 'Double 12', the lower neck was a regular guitar neck whereas the upper one had 12 strings. At the time, it was the first ever electric 12 string released by Gibson. Both necks had a scale length of 24 3/4" with 20 frets. Two Humbucking pick-ups with master volume and tone controls, were fitted to each neck with a 3-way toggle switch. A third toggle switch was used to select the neck to be played…The 'Double 12' and 'Double Mandolin' were, considering their unusual characteristics, custom built and available only on special order. Furthermore, the shipping totals indicate that these models were manufactured in rather modest quantities and are, as a consequence, very rare today. As to the finish, three options were offered in 1958: Sunburst, black and whte. The 'Double 12' cost $475.00 while the 'Double Mandolin' went for $435.00. The 'Double Neck' models kept this shape and structure with a raised top until 1962, when they took on a new solid body design clearly inspired from the 'SG' style introduced in 1961" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics, pp. 129-132).

"The first Gibson double necks were built in Spring 1957 and later in the year a Double 12 and a Double Mandolin were displayed at the July 1957 NAMM convention in Chicago. Both models featured a conventional 6-string neck in the lower position combined with a 12-string neck on the Double 12, and with a short scale 6-string neck tuned an octave higher on the so-called Double Mandolin (a real misnomer!). The enlarged body was of the double cutaway type with sharp Florentine horns and at a distance it could be mistaken for a solid body owing to the absence of f-holes. The early double necks are primarily characterized by their unique hollowed-out body construction featuring of a carved spruce top without f-holes. For additional weight saving, the body depth was kept to 1 7/8" at the rim and, regardless of other appointments, this feature qualifies them as thinlines. The interest generated at the show was sufficient to convince CMI and Gibson to include them in the line, albeit on a custom-order basis only and not as standard production items. The Double 12 (later known as the EDS-1275) and the Double Mandolin (known as the EMS-1235) were first described in the November 1957 issue of the Gazette and subsequently displayed in the 1958 catalog. At respectively $475.00 and $435.00 the two models were in the same price range as the ES-5 Switchmaster, but cost significantly less than a Super 400CES, a L-5CES or even a Byrdland. They were available in a choice of three finishes: sunburst, solid white and solid black" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, p. 83).

From the 1958 Catalogue: "A completely new and exciting instrument…the Double-12 combines the conventional six-string guitar neck with twelve-string neck—six-strings double strung which can be tuned either in thirds or an octave apart for reinforced resonance and unusual tonal effects. The Florentine double cutaway design provides easy access to the entire fret range of both necks. Arched top of choice fine-grained spruce, back and rims of select maple, mahogany necks with Gibson Adjustable Truss Rod, bound rosewood fingerboards with distincive pearloid inlays, laminated pickguards with attractive reveal edges, twin, humbucking pickups on each neck, located for contrasting treble an bass response, individually adjustable polepieces, separate tone and volume controls for each neck, toggle switch to activate eighter or both pickups, neck selector switch to activate either of the two necks, Tune-O-Matic bridge permits adjustment of string action and infividual string length for perfect intonation, especially designed tailpieces, nickel plated metal parts, enclosed individual machine heads with deluxe buttons. Custom-buillt to order only" (quoted in Larry Meiners, Gibson Shipment Totals, p. 20).

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