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Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited twin neck (World tour)
Commision build for Lee Pomeroy, bassist with Steve Hackett
Very proud indeed to have been asked to build this guitar. It's a bass and 12-string that can be assembled as either a twin neck guitar or two separate guitars using additional body "wings". The guitar was commissioned by Lee Pomeroy, a previous customer and an exceptional musician who is the bassist accompanying Steve Hackett on the Genesis Revisited world tour starting at the end of March (2013). Their first gig is at the Apollo London before starting the American leg of their tour.
(To see Lee Pomeroy's page click here)
(To see Steve Hackett's page click here)
Lee asked me at Christmas if I could build such a guitar. The time constraint was a concern but, fortunately, Lee had both the necks and that made the time frame feasible. The design is based on the twin neck used by Mike Rutherford, seen in the photo below, back in Genesis' 1980s heyday and his guitar was built by the now-defunct Shergold (a UK guitar builder).
Lee didn't want an exact copy which, to be honest, wouldn't have been possible because much of the hardware is no longer available. Lee also wanted a "cleaner" looking guitar with fewer knobs and switches, with the main feature being that it can be assembled as separate guitars or a double neck. I decided to take the design one step further and put all the controls in the conventional place, which meant that the wiring had to be routed through the body joint by some kind of plug.
And a "taster" of the mark II
Scroll down for the build details
Due to the time frame, much of the planning had to be done during the build. Below is the basic plan and sums up the work that was done on paper!
This plan sets out the basic layout, bridge positions, etc., and gave me somewhere to scribble all my design thoughts. At this point you've probably noticed that it's left handed, something I had to keep reminding myself of! Luckily (but oddly) Lee plays left-handed with right-handed stringing; I say luckily because this meant that I would be able to play the guitar with it turned upside-down, which is awfully handy when setting the thing up!
So here's how much of the design was done....Using MDF templates, this gave me the opportunity to check everything for fit. The pickups used on the 12-string were Seymour Duncan '59 Humbuckers and the bass uses Nordstrand.
Some wood getting cut but, more importantly, the way the body is joined. I wanted it to be neater than the original, which used large headed screws on the front, so the design I came up with uses metal strips and screws that fit into an insert in the back of the body.
Everything is made in stainless steel so it won't corrode and one of the metal plates is threaded.
The two main halves of the body that make up the twin neck. It's at this point that I came up with the idea of doubling up the mounting strips as electrical contacts to patch the wiring through from the 12-string pickups to the bass side for the controls--this way there would be no complicated fragile plugs, simply bolting the body halves together would make the necessary connections. Note the templates in the background, with plenty of reminders that it's left handed!
Sorry about the sawdust but here's a close up of the wiring/joining strips. The wood screws also pinch the wiring to the metal strips; a bit "agricultural" but robust and, hopefully, reliable.
The main halves together with the wiring installed and the necks in place. It was difficult to find out whether the necks on the original were slightly flared, but the research I did specifically said that they were parallel and this still gave plenty of room for the tuning keys and playing.
It makes so much sense making everything with templates first, especially when everything is left-handed. Once the template is correct then there's very little chance of cutting anything out wrong. Knowing that the guitar was going to be inherently heavy I used poplar, a VERY light wood that gives a super tone.
The separate guitars, again the wiring for each half adds complications. The additional body wing for the 12-String required its own controls with a body joint/plug to patch the pickup wires through.
Details of the inserts installed for the body joining screws (I used 3mm countersunk allen head bolts, which came out pretty neat).
At this point it was beginning to look like a guitar and I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of work had gone into the build at this stage--not only what you can see here but all also the unique fittings such as control cavity covers, odd plastic parts, and pickup surrounds that were all custom made. With such little time to build the guitar I couldn't afford to build sequentially, so to speak, so I kind of had a big kit thing going on!
I used a Gotoh 12-string bridge that is clever and neat with six of the strings top-loading and six through-body. The only problem was that the string-through holes are not in a straight line due to the intonation positioning of the string saddles; the trouble is, it looks as though I couldn't drill a straight line of holes so I decided on a plastic cover. At this stage I was a bit concerned about the clearance between the bass and 12-String tuners--they do look further apart on the original but at this stage it wasn't something I could change and there was still plenty of room. One of the nice things about this twin neck is that it's very small and light weight compared to similar guitars.
Moving on, I've applied a vintage nitro cellulose lacquer finish over wood stain and some of the fittings are in place. The six pots are a blend, volume and tone doubled up for each neck. Since it's a bass and 12-string and very unlikely to be used through a single amp, Lee wanted to have two jack sockets for use with separate amps.
And as separate guitars, it took a lot of time to get the body joints this neat but was worth it since it's one of the main features of this beast!
I took the time to recess the surface-mounted hardware, control covers, and secondary pickup surrounds. I think it's worth the time to get a much neater look.
In twin neck mode, completed.
And as separate 12-string and bass.
The separate components
And my gorgeous wife, who had to put up with me camped out in my workshop for three months!
Update : Here's Lee in concert with Steve Hackett, I think this picture is from one of their concerts in California
(Click on the picture to see a video of the guitar used at a concert in Florida)
...And some of the other concerts on the world tour