The Current's Guitar Collection: Tyler Burkum of The Cactus Blossoms, Jerry Jones Longhorn Double Neck

Tyler Burkum's double-neck guitar
Tyler Burkum's Jerry Jones Longhorn double-neck guitar. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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The Cactus Blossoms visited The Current studio for a session ahead the release of their new album, Easy Way. As they performed, the guitar being played by Tyler Burkum caught everyone's attention, including that of host Bill DeVille.

After the session, we were able to ask Tyler about the instrument he was playing.

The big question on everyone's mind is simply, what is it?

It is a double-neck Jerry Jones Longhorn guitar; "Longhorn" is the shape. It's basically a slightly updated version of a guitar that was made in the '50s. They were made in Nashville for a while, but then they stopped making them. [Editor's note: In April 2011, Jerry Jones retired and closed his Nashville factory after 30 years.]

When and where did you get this?

I already have a bunch of these types of guitars, but I never had a double neck. When I play with the Cactus Blossoms, I'm always going between a baritone and a normal guitar, so this has got a baritone on the bottom and a standard-tuning guitar on the top. And I will play it the whole night when I can, and then I switch to a normal six-string when my back gives out, because it's super heavy, but it really does have a real practical use.

I actually just got this to play with my brothers [Page Burkum and Jack Torrey of the Cactus Blossoms], because already I have basically the same two guitars, but they aren't connected. Then I was on my phone looking at an instrument site, a site called Reverb, and I saw it and I was like, "I have to have that." Because it's so beautiful and so ugly and perfect. It looks like it's straight out of a Spaghetti Western; the paint job is like a refrigerator from the '50s. I just love it.

My wife's always like, "What are you doing? Put the phone down" because I'm looking at guitars! (laughs) But yeah, I got this one on Reverb; it showed up in the mail and I hoped that it would be good, and I love it.

How long ago was that?

I've only had this for about a year. We just started having so much baritone in our songs, that it actually just made sense to have a double neck. My friends were like, "How often are you going to use that?" And I'm like, "Every night; actually every night."

The unfortunate thing about this is it doesn't fit in a gig bag, so if I have to fly to a show, I have to bring two separate guitars, which makes the transitions in the show a little bit longer. But my back feels better!

So it's pretty heavy, then.

It could be heavier. It's probably like 13 pounds, so I guess 13 pounds on one specific part of your shoulder the whole night starts to wear on you a little bit.

But I love the way it sounds! Basically, the designer of this guitar — I mean, these were sold in Sears catalogues and stuff like that — so the designer of this guitar made the front and back sides out of Formica. It's hollow, but it's literally made out of something that a table would have been made of in the '50s. And it's got these lipstick pickups — the pickups are so simple, but they sound so cool because there's basically no EQ to them. It's raw, it just picks up the strings. So if you put overdrive on it, it sounds really kind of nasty, but if you play it through a clean amp, it sounds super clean and bright and punchy.

I like it, it's just a cool guitar — sorry, it's a cool guitars! Yeah, I just amused myself with that! (laughs)

External Links

The Cactus Blossoms - official site

Reverb.com

Jerry Jones Guitars - legacy site

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4 Photos

  • Tyler Burkum's double-neck guitar
    Tyler Burkum's Jerry Jones Longhorn double-neck guitar. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Tyler Burkum's double-neck guitar
    Tyler Burkum's Jerry Jones Longhorn double-neck guitar. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Tyler Burkum's double-neck guitar
    Tyler Burkum's Jerry Jones Longhorn double-neck guitar. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Tyler Burkum and Bill DeVille with Burkum's double-neck guitar
    Following a session in The Current studio, Tyler Burkum of the Cactus Blossoms lets Bill DeVille have a try with the Jerry Jones Longhorn double-neck guitar. (Luke Taylor | MPR)

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