Cheap Trick’s two teen idols/two dorks visual presentation schtick probably struck a lot of people as a mere gimmick in the ‘70s, but I will always be grateful to guitarist Rick Nielsen for showing the nerdy kids that one of us could be a for real, high visibility rock star. Cheap Trick were contemporary with punk, but apart from a highly disco-fied Blondie, punk bands weren’t featured in the kind of late ‘70s mass media to which kids interested in music had access pre-MTV, so that you-can-do-it-too ethos had to come from elsewhere, and for me, Nielsen was as close as I found to such a model. When I was a kid, Dream Police was my go-to, but as I got older and started back-tracking through their catalog, I found much to love about the back-to-basics Midwestern RAWK in earlier releases like In Color and the absolutely essential At Budokan.
But while he was an outlier, Nielsen was still always way more arena-rock than punk, and he boasted plenty of unapproachable showbiz flash—namely, his celebrated guitar collection/hoard, which surely cost a small fortune even then and is definitely worth a large fortune now. From agonizingly envy-inducing vintage pieces, to very cool custom finishes and custom builds, to his famous and utterly ridiculous five-necked guitars, Nielsen possesses an arsenal that can make gear-fetishists drool oceans, and as it happens, he’s currently divesting some choice pieces of it. He opened an online shop on reverb.com in January, and he’s selling off GORGEOUS instruments almost as quickly as he can post them. There’s a great video of him going through the process of thinning the herd here if you want a glimpse into his stash. As I type this, all that remains is a 1956 Les Paul Junior, a stylin’ little Bronson lap steel, and an astonishingly pristine 1959 Gibson ES-330T. And by the time you read this, who knows what’ll be left from that? Reverb lets users set up alerts, so when Nielsen posts more instruments, you can be the first to know via email if he decides to let go of his self-portrait double-neck. But in the meantime, though most of this stuff is sold already, we can still enjoy some gear-porn.
Bronson B35 Lap Steel, ‘50s
Gibson ES-330T, 1959 and not a single goddamn scratch!
Framus Strato Deluxe 1960s Sunburst—SOLD
National Glenwood, early ‘60s—SOLD
Dean Psychobilly Cabbie, 2000s—SOLD
Fender Maverick, ‘60s—SOLD
Fender Floral Telecaster, ‘90s reissue—SOLD
Burny H, ‘90s—SOLD
Enjoy this backstage footage from 1985 of Nielsen explaining his guitar collection to a reporter.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Germs drummer Don Bolles is selling off his old punk flyers
X marks the garage sale: buy Exene Cervenka’s stuff!