Double-neck electric guitars aren’t a new innovation, but in 2014 LostAlone guitarist Steven Battelle debuted a fascinating new build that took the template into territories no one had seen before.
In what is effectively a seven-string SG model, Battelle equipped his custom guitar with one additional single-string neck. With that extra string came an additional pickup – mounted sideways – and a whole load of new performing possibilities.
What inspired Battelle to build the unique axe, you ask? Well, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, apparently.
More specifically, the British rock guitarist told MusicRadar he needed an expanded guitar that would allow him to play Crusaders – the opener of LostAlone’s 2014 album Shapes Of Screams, which had been written without regard for what is possible on a six-string guitar.
It’s also a song that came about during a period when Battelle was “obsessed” with the music of Les Mis, which in turn pushed him to compose the boundary-bending dual-riff hook of Crusaders.
To wrap your head around how the guitar actually operates, check out the video below.
“To paraphrase a well-known phrase and transpose into guitar speak, I realized I’d layered off more than I could play,” says Battelle. “The song is called Crusaders and opens our record Shapes Of Screams.
“I was totally obsessed with Les Miserables musical at the time,” he continued, “and wanted to push what we could do as a three-piece – not only in the studio but then onstage – and become more like an entire company rather than just a three-piece rock band.”
In his quest to harness this expansive sound, Battelle quickly realized a regular seven-string wouldn’t cut it, owing to unfamiliar logistics and confusing fretting. As such, he sought out Nigel Roberts of Leicestershire Luthiers to help create the answer to his problems.
“The studio version [of Crusaders] has chords moving around while a deep heavy riff is happening and so it posed a problem,” he reflected. “I tried a 7 string, but couldn't make my brain understand why what was an E, looked like an A and so I came up with this idea.
“I air-guitared my thoughts to my friend Nigel who is a brilliant luthier and a couple of days later he sent me blueprints for the guitar. The guitar means I can play the riff and the chords as well as sing at the same time"
The result is a remarkably clever guitar, which offers the user the ability to use a low B or A when needed without compromising the DNA and feel of a regular six-string guitar. Plus, that silver finish against the conventional cherry red wood grain looks mighty cool.
Furthermore, while most double-neck guitars come with much larger bodies to compensate for multiple extra strings, Battelle’s baby retains the original guitar’s exact dimensions and layout, save a sole bridge saddle attached to anchor the additional string.
Now, Battelle is able to perform the riff, the chords and sing at the same time without sacrificing too much feel. Genius.
LostAlone's upcoming album The Warring Twenties will be out September 30 via Dharma Records, and is available to preorder now. Whether the wild SG-style seven-string will see more action remains to be seen...