Cheap Trick Guitar Magic: Exploring Rick Nielsen's Iconic Axes and Techniques

· 9 min read

article picture

The Iconic Guitars of Rick Nielsen

Hamer Five-Neck Guitar

The Hamer Five-Neck Guitar is a unique and innovative instrument that has gained popularity among guitar enthusiasts. This guitar features not one, but five necks, each with its own set of strings. The design allows for a wide range of tones and versatility in playing styles. Whether you're strumming chords on the acoustic neck or shredding solos on the electric necks, this guitar offers endless possibilities for creativity.

Custom Checkerboard Standard

The Custom Checkerboard Standard by Cheap Trick is a visually striking and sonically impressive guitar model. With its distinctive checkerboard pattern finish, it immediately grabs attention on stage or in the studio. But beyond its eye-catching appearance, this guitar delivers exceptional sound quality and playability. Equipped with premium pickups and high-quality hardware, it produces rich tones with great sustain. Whether you're a fan of Cheap Trick or simply looking for a top-notch instrument to enhance your performance, the Custom Checkerboard Standard won't disappoint.

Rick Nielsen's Guitar Techniques

Pick Scraping and Use of Feedback

Cheap Trick guitar players are known for their expert use of pick scraping and feedback. They utilize these techniques to add unique textures and effects to their music, creating a distinctive sound that sets them apart from other guitarists. Pick scraping involves dragging the edge of the pick along the strings, producing a gritty and percussive sound. This technique is often used in intros or breakdowns to create tension or build anticipation. Feedback, on the other hand, occurs when the amplified sound from the guitar's pickups is fed back into itself through an amplifier. By manipulating the position of their guitars relative to amplifiers and speakers, Cheap Trick guitarists are able to control and shape this feedback to create haunting melodies or explosive bursts of noise.

Complex Chord Progressions

One aspect that sets Cheap Trick apart from other rock bands is their complex chord progressions. Their songs feature intricate arrangements with unexpected chord changes that keep listeners engaged and intrigued. Instead of relying solely on basic major or minor chords, Cheap Trick incorporates diminished chords, augmented chords, suspended chords, slash chords, and more into their compositions. These complex chord progressions add depth and complexity to their music while still maintaining catchy hooks and memorable melodies. The band's ability to seamlessly transition between different chord voicings allows them to create dynamic shifts in energy throughout each song.

Innovative Use of Multi-Neck Guitars

In addition to their innovative use of pick scraping and complex chord progressions, Cheap Trick has also experimented with multi-neck guitars as part of their musical arsenal. Multi-neck guitars enable musicians to access a variety of tones without needing multiple instruments onstage during live performances—a practical solution for touring bands like Cheap Trick that want versatility without sacrificing mobility onstage.The band's lead guitarist often utilizes a double-neck guitar, typically with a six-string neck and a twelve-string neck. This configuration allows for seamless transitions between different sonic textures and adds an extra layer of richness to their sound. The innovative use of multi-neck guitars by Cheap Trick has become synonymous with the band's signature style.

The Sound of Cheap Trick: Amplifiers and Effects

Marshall Amplification

Marshall Amplification is a renowned brand in the world of guitar amplifiers. Known for their iconic sound and durability, Marshall amps have been used by many famous guitarists over the years. The Cheap Trick Guitar is no exception, as it pairs perfectly with a Marshall amp to deliver that classic rock tone. Whether you're playing in a small venue or on a big stage, the combination of the Cheap Trick Guitar and a Marshall amp will give you the power and versatility you need.

Fuchs Overdrive Supreme

The Fuchs Overdrive Supreme pedal is an excellent choice for guitarists looking to achieve signature tones with their Cheap Trick Guitar. This versatile pedal offers various overdrive options, allowing players to dial in just the right amount of gain and saturation for different musical styles. With its transparent tone and responsive dynamics, the Fuchs Overdrive Supreme enhances the natural sound of the Cheap Trick Guitar while adding warmth and richness to your overall tone.

Various Pedals for Signature Tones

When it comes to achieving signature tones on your Cheap Trick Guitar, using various pedals can greatly enhance your sound. From modulation effects like chorus and flanger to time-based effects like delay and reverb, there are endless possibilities when it comes to crafting unique sounds with pedals. Experimenting with different combinations of pedals can help you discover new textures and sonic landscapes that complement your playing style on the Cheap Trick Guitar.

Rick Nielsen's Guitar Collection

Rare and Vintage Finds

For guitar enthusiasts and collectors, finding rare and vintage cheap trick guitars is like striking gold. These elusive gems hold a special place in the hearts of music lovers, as they carry the history and craftsmanship of bygone eras. From classic models that were once played by legendary musicians to limited edition releases that are highly sought after, these rare finds offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of guitar culture. Whether it's a vintage '70s model or an obscure prototype from the '80s, owning one of these treasures allows players to connect with the past while creating their own musical legacy.

Custom-Made Wonders

When it comes to custom-made wonders, cheap trick guitars never fail to impress. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail and tailored specifically for individual players, these instruments embody true artistry. Customization options range from choosing unique tonewoods for enhanced resonance to selecting personalized neck profiles for optimal comfort and playability. Every aspect of these guitars can be customized according to the player's preferences - from pickup configurations for diverse sound possibilities to intricate inlays that add a touch of visual flair. With each custom build being a collaborative journey between luthier and musician, owning one of these bespoke creations is like possessing a truly one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

A Collector's Dream

For avid collectors, cheap trick guitars are nothing short of a dream come true. The thrill lies not only in acquiring rare pieces but also in curating an impressive collection that showcases different eras, styles, and innovations within the world of guitars. A collector's dream often includes iconic models signed by renowned artists or limited editions commemorating significant milestones in music history. Each addition brings its own story - whether it's discovering hidden gems at flea markets or bidding on coveted pieces at auctions. The joy of building a comprehensive collection lies in the pursuit of knowledge, as collectors immerse themselves in the heritage and evolution of cheap trick guitars.

Playing Like Rick: Guitar Setup and Maintenance

String Preferences and Tuning

When it comes to string preferences and tuning on a cheap trick guitar, it's important to consider the type of strings that will best suit your playing style. Some players prefer lighter gauge strings for easier bending and faster playing, while others opt for heavier gauges for a fuller tone and more sustain. Experimenting with different string brands and materials can also help you find the perfect fit. As for tuning, most cheap trick guitars are typically tuned to standard EADGBE tuning, but alternative tunings can be explored to achieve unique sounds.

Maintaining Vintage Guitars

Maintaining vintage guitars requires special care to preserve their unique character and playability. Cleaning the guitar regularly with a soft cloth is important to remove dirt and sweat buildup that can affect the finish over time. It's recommended to use specific guitar cleaning products rather than household cleaners that may contain harsh chemicals. Keeping the instrument properly humidified is another key aspect of maintenance, as extreme changes in humidity can cause wood damage or neck warping. Regular inspections of the hardware components such as bridges, nuts, and tuners should also be done to address any issues promptly.

Custom Modifications

Custom modifications offer an exciting way to personalize your cheap trick guitar according to your preferences. From simple upgrades like changing pickups or adding coil splits for versatile tonal options, to more complex modifications like installing tremolo systems or modifying wiring configurations – there are endless possibilities. However, before making any customizations, it's important to thoroughly research compatibility issues with your specific model of cheap trick guitar. Consulting with experienced luthiers or knowledgeable professionals can provide valuable insights into what modifications will work best without compromising the instrument's integrity.

Cheap Trick's Studio and Live Gear

Recording Studio Favorites

Cheap Trick guitarists have their go-to favorites when it comes to recording studio sessions. One such favorite is the Gibson Les Paul Standard, known for its rich and versatile sound. Its solid mahogany body and maple top contribute to a warm tone that cuts through the mix effortlessly. Another popular choice is the Fender Stratocaster, renowned for its iconic single-coil pickups that deliver crisp and clear tones. The Stratocaster's sleek design allows for easy playability, making it a preferred option in the studio.

Live Setup and Rig Rundown

When it comes to live performances, Cheap Trick has a well-thought-out setup and rig rundown. Lead guitarist Rick Nielsen opts for his trusted Hamer Standard Custom guitars. These instruments feature custom designs with eye-catching finishes, adding visual flair to their stage presence while delivering powerful tones. Bassist Tom Petersson relies on his collection of custom-built 12-string bass guitars by Mike Lull. These unique instruments provide depth and richness to Cheap Trick's live sound, enhancing their signature blend of rock and power pop.

Adapting to Different Venues

Adapting to different venues is an important aspect of Cheap Trick's performances. With decades of experience under their belts, the band understands how to tailor their sound accordingly. In smaller venues or intimate settings, they utilize smaller amplifiers like Vox AC15 or Fender Deluxe Reverb for optimal control over volume levels without sacrificing tone quality. For larger arenas or outdoor festivals, they rely on more powerful setups such as Marshall stacks or Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier heads paired with matching cabinets to fill the space with massive guitar-driven energy.

Inspiration Behind the Strings

Rick Nielsen's Musical Influences

Rick Nielsen's musical influences have played a significant role in shaping Cheap Trick's unique sound. Growing up, Nielsen was heavily influenced by British rock bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Their catchy melodies and energetic performances inspired him to pick up the guitar and start his own band. Additionally, he drew inspiration from American blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and B.B. King, incorporating their soulful playing style into his own guitar solos.

The Storytelling in Cheap Trick's Music

The storytelling aspect of Cheap Trick's music is one of the key elements that sets them apart from other rock bands. Their songs often feature relatable lyrics that touch on themes of love, heartbreak, and everyday struggles. Whether it's the bittersweet tale of lost love in "The Flame" or the rebellious anthem about breaking free from societal norms in "Surrender," Cheap Trick has mastered the art of crafting songs with meaningful narratives that resonate with listeners.

Evolution of Guitar Playing Style

Over the years, there has been an evolution in Rick Nielsen's guitar playing style within Cheap Trick. Initially known for his fast-paced power chords and blistering solos, Nielsen later embraced a more melodic approach to his playing. He began experimenting with different guitar effects pedals to create unique sounds and textures on tracks like "Dream Police" and "I Want You to Want Me." This evolution showcased not only Nielsen's versatility as a guitarist but also added depth and dimension to Cheap Trick's overall sound.