Chris Haskett was looking for a guitar with the bottom three strings coursed like a 12-string and the top three strings left single for easy soloing.
He was amazed to discover no one offered one.
Haskett is a former member of the Rollins Band and a guitar-slinger-for-hire for David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, Jah Wobble and others. Since the early Nineties, he’s been associated with Paul Reed Smith, who has built Haskell’s main instruments.
So naturally, he took his idea to Paul.
“He’s indulged my idiosyncrasies for a really long time,” Haskett says. “And also he’s just one of the greatest guitar makers in the world. So I approached him and said, ‘Do you think this is completely crazy?' And he said no.”
Haskett worked on the project with Rich Hannon of PRS. The guitar actually started life as a Custom 22 12-string, so it had a longer headstock, a middle pickup and a 12-string nut and bridge. Hannon recut the headstock to maintain the signature PRS look and made all other necessary adjustments.
The result is a guitar that produces the signature tonalities of a Gibson 1275 double-neck on a single-neck instrument.
Most importantly, the guitar has the correct spacing for the string arrangement. Haskett used to play his 12-string Stratocaster with the top strings left single, but the string spacing was wrong. “One of the most important features of this guitar is the string spacing is correct,” Haskett says. And that’s really what makes it beautifully playable.”
Haskett modified the guitar further by removing the middle pickup. “I took it out and put a block in,” he says. “The front pickup is now tapped so it can go single-coil. The two humbuckers are out of phase. I really like the certain kind of ‘honking’ sound you can get with out-of-phase pickups with the tone control rolled way down. So the push-pull tone control now operates as a single-coil-to-humbucking switch.”
As Haskett told MusicRadar, “The idea’s been kicking around in my head since the 1990s. I wanted to be able to play Zeppelin’s ‘Bring It on Home’ and Mahavishnu’s ‘Dance of the Maya’ but not have to have 23 pounds of mahogany ruining my spine.
“I wanted to be able to get the sound of a 12-string but still be free to solo and bend on the high strings. To me, the really signature sounds of a 12-string are the octaves between the E-A-D and G strings. Doubling the B and E just means you always have tuning problems and can't bend. So I thought this was a pretty good solution.”
We think so too. Haskett provides all the details and demos the guitar in this great video.