B.B. King has Lucille, Eddie Van Halen has the Frankenstrat, Jerry Garcia had Tiger, Willie Nelson has Trigger, and Neil Young has Old Black, the heavily modified Gibson Les Paul that has been the cornerstone of the man’s electric sound since the Sixties.
On the DVD that comes with the deluxe edition of Neil Young’s Fork in the Road, there’s a clip of Neil and band playing “A Day in the Life.” Collectors and hardcore fans will be happy to have the clip, but for me the chief point of interest was getting a close look at Old Black during the song’s apocalyptic finale, when Young literally breaks all the strings and swishes the ends across one of the pickups. When the camera comes in close, you can see just how many battles that ax has fought over the years.
This very detailed description of a custom-made Old Black replica guitar includes loving closeups of the guitar’s Bigsby vibrato bar (which Neil uses to alter the pitch on his trademarked feedback howls) and the distinctive aluminum pick guard, which adds to the guitar’s already massive feedback potential.