Of all the guitars introduced by Gibson in 1958 – a key year in the development of Gibson as an indisputable force in electric solid body guitar design – the most talked-about models are still the innovative Explorer and the Flying V. Yet most people forget – or simply don’t know – that 1958 was also the first year of the Gibson double neck guitar, which in its original incarnation was offered in two distinct models. The Double 12 – the forerunner to today’s EDS-1275 – had what would become the most conventional twin-neck combination: a 6-string neck and a 12-string neck. The more unusual Double Mandolin had two 6-string necks: one regular 6-string and one short scale length with its strings tuned an octave higher than a regular guitar, which was intended to reproduce the sound of a mandolin. Undoubtedly, the two unique instruments were a sight to behold, but they offered the consummate stage guitarist two instruments in one for versatility and ease of playing. They were also produced on a “custom-built to order only” basis, making them rare finds in today’s vintage guitar marketplace.
From 1958 to 1962, the Double 12 double necks sported a hollowbody design crafted with carved spruce tops and maple back and sides. The body also consisted of a Florentine double cutaway design which provided easy access to the entire fret range of both necks. In 1962, however, the Double 12 was reintroduced as the EDS-1275 model and featured a solid mahogany body that closely resembled Gibson’s new SG models, along with three-piece maple necks with 20-fret rosewood fingerboards. It is this double neck model that would rewrite rock and roll history in the hands of Jimmy Page, who first used the EDS-1275 to deliver the intricate studio arrangements of the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway to Heaven” in a live setting. During live performances of this epic song, Page would alternate from the bottom 6-string for the delicate fingerpicking of the song’s intro, verses and legendary solo, to the ringing 12-string for the song’s era-defining bridge and final chorus. Page also used the instrument for other Zeppelin classics, such as “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song.” And while Page remains as the artist most closely associated with this model, over the years a host of other legendary guitarists have incorporated the EDS-1275 into their own cache of guitars, including Rush’s Alex Lifeson and Elton John’s Davey Johnstone.
An iconic symbol of rock and roll’s power and possibility, the EDS-1275 has always been a jewel in Gibson Custom’s crown, acting as both a tribute to incredible guitar building, and historic guitar playing. Today’s EDS-1275 features a traditional solid mahogany body, with Nashville Tune-o-matic bridges and period-correct stop-plate tailpieces. Both necks are made from maple and fitted with 20-fret rosewood fingerboards with single-ply white binding and pearloid split parallelogram inlays. Other standard appointments include Gibson’s 1960 slim-taper profile on both necks and vintage tulip tuners. The neck position humbucker pickup is Gibson’s 490R, which delivers the tonal characteristics of an original PAF, with a slight increase in upper mid-range response. The Gibson 498T is the bridge pickup, and the 490’s ideal complement. Taking the 490 one step further, the 498 swaps the Alnico II magnet to an Alnico V, thus making it slightly hotter with emphasis on mid-ranges and highs. The pole pieces on the 498T are also aligned a little further apart to accommodate the spacing of the strings at the bridge, which is different than the spacing of the strings at the neck. The EDS-1275 is available in a Heritage Cherry finish with chrome hardware, or Alpine White finish with gold hardware. All come with a specially designed Gibson Custom case and certificate of authenticity.