Rick Nielsen’s Guitars

Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection

Photo by aaronHwarren
Photo by aaronHwarren

Starting off, it is important to mention that the legendary Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, has owned about 2,000 guitars over the last several decades. Last year, he went on record on rollingstone.com with the fact that he currently owns over 400 guitars. Of all these guitars, perhaps one of the most iconic members of his six-string collection is the famous Hamer checkerboard five-neck guitar. Whichever way you look at it, Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection is amazing.


Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection on auction

For rock lovers and guitar enthusiasts in general, owning an instrument that has been in the hands of a legend is one of the most prestigious things worth celebrating. Due to the fact that he had way too many guitars and that he wanted some of his prized possessions to find a new home and rock on, Rick Nielsen put up a few of six-strings up for auction last year.
As things stood then, his 1956 Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Junior sold for $5,760. His 1959 Gibson ES-330T Mint Collector Grade did even better with bids reaching up to $6,800 and more. Some of his eye-catching axes up for grabs were: a Fender Floral Tele, a Dean Psychobilly Cabbie and a Nash F*cker Sh*tblaster.

Photo by Alberto Cabello Mayero
Photo by Alberto Cabello Mayero

A sample of his guitar collection when Rick Nielsen tours with Cheap Trick

Rock artists, especially guitarist do not leave things to chance. When they tour, they like to carry with them a wide selection of their guitars. Whether those six-strings that make the tour represent the artist’s favorite list is only for them to know. As for guitar lovers, we just stay mesmerized by the wide array of musical instrumental genius gracing the stage and serenading our ears.

When he was on the cover of Guitar Player in 2013, Rick went on stage with Cheap Trick in Napa, CA. The gracious instrumentalist granted Guitar Player an audience before he went on stage. He was kind enough to introduce his collection of axes for the Napa tour to Guitar Player.


And this is how that list read:

– He had with him a Hamer Standard. This had cartoons of himself on it. – He also had yet another Hamer Standard with metal flake sparkles.
– He had a Les Paul that had an Explorer headstock.
– He had a replica of his Checkerboard Standard. After the Ottawa stage collapse, Rick retired the original Checkerboard Standard due to damage.
– He also had with him a 1958 Les Paul.
– A Sgt. Pepper Hamer
– A box-shaped Rockford Hamer.
– A Yardbirds Esquire. This one was a replica of Jeff Beck’s and was actually given to Rick Nielsen by Jeff Beck himself.
– Rick Nielsen’s unmistakable tone has at the core of it the sound of Paul Rivera-modded Fender Deluxes. So naturally, these had to be there.

Here’s a video of Rick playing his five neck guitar in 1989

In an interview, Rick said that he always had a thing for old guitars. According to him, the old ones always seem to have something over the new ones. Growing up in Northern Illinois, surrounded by guitars at his father’s band and orchestral rental store, he says that people would trade in old guitars for new ones. He bought the old guitars mostly because he could afford them and because they had that ‘it’ tone that every musician tries to find.

His extended guitar collection

Rick Nielsen has owned thousands of guitars in the past. Some of the more illustrious names and brands that make the list as part of his extended selection include:

Hamer Guitars
Fender Custom
Merle Travis
Gibson Explorers
Malcolm Young Signature
Gibson Les Paul
White Penguin

This list could go on and on. The exact number of six-strings that have come into the possession of and into Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection maybe unclear due to the sheer number and the duration through which they have been collected. What isn’t in doubt, however, is that the legendary rocker has had a wonderful run and a great many beautiful and powerful axes at his disposal.

This is the kind of collection that mere mortals can only marvel at and occasionally get to own part of when he chooses to do some ‘guitar rack spring cleaning’ and put some on auction. Be prepared to part ways with a tidy sum whenever any of his guitars go up for auction. Don’t worry too much about the financial hit, you will be buying a piece of Rick Nielsen’s guitar collection. And to a guitar lover, that is priceless.

Photo by Alberto Cabello Mayero

rick nielsen photo
Photo by stannate