|The most striking thing about this
guitar (apart from having two necks, which diverge slightly to make the
thing much easier to play than most doublenecks) is the beautifully carved
pine front. The dark rosewood bridge was actually inset, after carving,
into the face, and is attached to a large lump of mahogany inside the body
that functions, I guess, a bit like that inside a Gibson ES335 to give
more sustain. The body is mahogany also, and isn't far off the shape of a
Martin OM, making it light but pretty well-balanced for a doubleneck.
The necks too are mahogany, with ebony fingerboards and a slab of ebony on each headstock. Nuts and saddles are bone, and of course as is evident from the pictures the bridge has pegs like a flat-top acoustic.
The original pickups were Baldwins, which John Bailey told me, in a conversation a couple of years before he died, were the only sort one could buy in 1968. These were wired in stereo (one mono jack socket, and a second for stereo), with a toggle switch to select 6, 12 or both necks, and a knob for bridge, neck or both pickups (or it may have been vice versa - I forget! Tone and volume pots were separate in the Gibson style. The 12 string was strung conventionally with the lighter strings first, unlike a Rickenbacker.
The (rather tatty) label was printed in brown with pictures of folksy people playing Bailey instruments and the legend in John's own neat hand "Made for Ralph Denyer, 1968".
There was a grey hard case made, it turned out, by Gordon Giltrap himself and lined in maroon velour. I'm afraid I insulted it when Gordon was anonymously haggling on the phone - at the time I had a cheap Strat in a Fender case and joked that thieves would take that and ignore the valuable instrument. But it was, in fact, very well-made. Well done, Sir.
|The back and necks are finished in black
lacquer. In 1976 I had a friend, Tim Davies, who was training as a luthier
under John Bailey (though he later specialised in woodwind). Tim told me
the double had been discussed in the workshop, and that the finish was
black, despite the mahogany body, because John had been a bit
over-enthusiastic with a chisel working on the guitar after a session at
the local pub!
I believe in the photos on the Visionary shoot the guitar was in original condition, but Gordon had some work done on it when he first owned it, by Barry of Wing Music in Bromley. He fitted new black Schaller machine heads (and minis on the 12-string neck), and new control knobs. He also fitted new pickups (of uncertain type - one, I think, was a Telecaster bridge pickup). These were embedded in the old covers with paraffin wax.
In my ownership I left things more or less as they were, except for swopping the Tele (?) pickup from the 12 to the 6 neck and exchanging the pickup and neck controls around for greater convenience.
Some of the lacquer round the edge of the headstock facing having chipped away, I carefully removed the rest, which after varnishing left, I thought, a rather neat mahogany strip around the heads.
Finally, since the frets were wearing rather badly I had the guitar refretted by a local Essex repairer, Jeff Giddings, using rather thicker wire than the original.
That, as far as I know, is how the guitar is now, but I understand Gordon has had to retire it officially because one or both necks have warped - John didn't bother with truss rods.
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