Guitars of the Stars


Guitars of the Stars - Volume 1 - Rick Nielsen

Published in 1993, Guitars of the Stars is a beautiful collection of photographs of guitars from the Rick Nielsen collection. Nielsen has bought and sold thousands of guitars throughout his lifetime, and this book showcases instruments that are truly rare and noteworthy. While this book is referred to as ‘Volume 1’, and additional volumes were planned for the guitar collections of Billy Gibbons, John Entwistle and Joe Perry, no other books were published in this series. The size is 12” by 8”.

The photos of the guitars were taken with a projection of related images behind them, such as the cover photo with a projection of Rick Nielsen in the background shown playing the same Flying V guitar that is shown in the foreground. This is a technique perfected by photographer Stephen Pitkin from Rockford, Illinois, who has shot guitars for Fender, Hamer and many others. The background projections provide a truly stunning backdrop for the instruments being displayed.

This book also presents a puzzle: It includes three Hamer B12A 12-string basses that have always been reported to have been owned by Tom Petersson. Why would they be included in this book? Rick certainly owned enough amazing guitars to fill this book without them.

Two of these three 12-string basses were built in 1988. Petersson returned to Cheap Trick in 1987; it makes sense that he would need new basses, these 12’s would fill that need and they may have been provided by the band. In fact, the burst finish 12 includes the text, “Hi my name is Tom” near where the neck attaches to the body.

1988 Hamer B12A, SN# 820502. Nielsen notes, “These instruments are very difficult to play - but they sound and look great!”

A close-up of the bridge and tailpiece showing the difficulties involved with keeping the strings in an orderly arrangement with a Hamer tailpiece.


However, the “Planet” 12-string bass was built in 1985, and at that time Petersson had nothing to do with the band and was no longer a part owner of Cheap Trick. Note that this bass has a slimmer headstock than the standard B12A’s. It has been reported that this headstock change was done at the request of Petersson, and that the small number of 12-string basses built with this modification were referred to as the “Tom Petersson Model B12A” by builders at Hamer. Besides the “Planet” 12, this slimmer headstock was also incorporated into Ron Johnson’s custom B12A, which was started in 1985 and completed in 1986, plus at least one other 12-string bass built at this same time.

Outside of incorporating OBL pick-ups and custom finishes, nothing else about these 12’s differs from the standard B12A production models. Hamer was routinely making finish variations as custom orders.

1988 Hamer B12A in the “Elvis” finish, SN# 820501. Per Nielsen, “This stand up checkerboard bass was used in Cheap Trick’s ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ video - it has a removable (screw-in) pool cue for a stand.”

1985 Hamer “Planet” B12A, SN# 0743. Nielsen writes, “Tom Petersson invented the 12-string bass around 1977.”

Rick Nielsen’s autograph on the inside front cover, from his book signing session.

Photographer Stephen Pitkin’s autograph can be found on some copies on the inside back cover with an arrow pointing to his photo on the dust jacket.