Eastwood's Bill Nelson Guitar Guide

    To us, Bill Nelson is much more than a guitar legend - he's a friend and a collaborator. Here's a look at all of our Bill Nelson projects (old & new!) plus a look at some of his Eastwood guitars...

    Bill Nelson Guitar Gear Guide

    Bill Nelson is a true cult guitar-hero. Though he first came to prominence with his 70's band Be Bop Deluxe, Bill still very much remains one of the most creative guitarists around, and an inspiration to many - even though he steers clear from the mainstream. For this reason, many guitarists look up to him, and our collaborations with Bill Nelson are always very popular.

    To celebrate the upcoming Bill Nelson Astroluxe Cadet (the best yet???) we'll take a look at all Eastwood guitars Bill Nelson has used over the years... but first, let's talk about that new Astroluxe!

    1) ASTROLUXE CADET (Eastwood Customs project - ending February 23rd 2017)

    Astroluxe Cadet guitar

    The new (and now fully funded) Bill Nelson Astroluxe Cadet is a truly unique, gorgeous semi-acoustic guitar, and the culmination - so far - of our ongoing collaboration with Bill Nelson.

    The guitar is a semi-acoustic style with a slightly arched top and a single f-hole (which features a grille), but this time a double cutaway. The guitar is fitted with three Airline Argyle White Coil Pickups. There's a 3-way switch with volume and tone controls for the neck and bridge pickups, operating like a standard Gibson guitar. With the switch in the center position, the master volume knob operates as a blend between the middle and neck or the middle and bridge. 

    This model is also available in a DLX version. Crowdfunding ends on February 23 so make sure to guarantee yours while you can - there's no doubt those will become very collectible!

    Watch Mike Robinson guide you through the Astroluxe Cadet features:



     Eastwood Saturn 63

    Our Saturn 63 was discontinued in 2010, and Bill was one of the players who made sure to grab one! Another quite unique semi-acoustic, based on the model by German brand Hopft, with a slightly Jag-esque offset body. This was the guitar Bill used on our old "I get it" ad campaign. Anyone remember? 

    Eastwood "I Get It" ad with Bill Nelson


    Bill is a big fan of vibrato arms, so he was one of the first to get one of our Airline Twin Tone guitars fitted with tremolo. And, in case you didn't know, we actually now do the Airline Twin Tone DLX model, which comes fitted with Bigsby! 

     Airline Twin Tone with Tremolo

    Bill was right: Twin Tones look GREAT with a tremolo...


    Airline Town & Country

    Like many distinguished players, Bill couldn't help but also love the Airline Town & Country, which is still one of our most "upmarket" models, and still one of our favorites! A very stylish Supro reissue that's perfect for whatever style you play - so no wonder it attracted a guitarist as versatile and original as Bill Nelson!

    Here's a live video of him using this particular model:


    Airline MAP DLX

    As the main pic of this article shows, Bill Nelson often uses an Airline MAP DLX live. A reissue of the Res-O-Glass model by National, our new MAP has chambered mahogany body and sounds superb.

    Here's another live clip of Bill Nelson, now with a MAP:


    The Cosey

    The reissue of a rare and very desirable Morris Custom,  our Eastwood The Cosey was one of our most popular Custom Shop models last year, and we're happy to say Bill Nelson was one of the guitarists who simply had to have one. Great taste, as always, Bill!


    Bill Nelson Astroluxe Custom

    The Astroluxe Custom Limited is our 2014 collaboration with Bill. It's still one of our greatest guitars ever, totally unique, a true work of art! Here's what Bill said at the time:

    "As for sound and playability, all I can say is that I'm thrilled with it. Those CC-Rider pickups have a rich vintage tone that works superbly for jazz, blues and rock. I'm really impressed by them—just a great and luxurious sound. The body style is meant to suggest a retro-futuristic take on the big archtops that swing band guitarists of the 1940s were seen with, but it is thin-line like my vintage Gibson 345."


    Eastwood Doral Archtop

    The Eastwood Doral Archtop is a beautiful (now discontinued) jazz-style guitar, with coil-tapped humbuckers. Once again, you can see that Bill Nelson love a beautiful guitar which is also very versatile. When tone meets style, you can't really ask for more!


    Backlund Model 100

    Of course, none of us should be surprised by the fact that Bill Nelson loves John Backlund's designs! Nothing more appropriate than an innovative guitarist loving innovative guitars, after all!

    One of the great things about the Backlund Model 100 is that it's a really, really well-designed, playable guitar - very comfortable, great balance. Some players might think that a bold design like this would put image above all things, but not at all. It sounds amazing, and is just very comfortable to play. A guitarist like Bill Nelson wouldn't expect anything less, of course, and that's why he uses one live:

    Bill Nelson live with a Backlund Model 100


    Airline Lap Steel

    Our reissue Airline Lap Steel guitar is one of the coolest you'll ever find! Bill was quick in getting one, and he said this back in 2009 when he got his:

    " It's a little easier to play than my Emmonds pedal steel guitar as it has less strings and no pedals or knee-levers to worry about. However, I'm still getting used to the fact that there are no frets and sliding the steel bar to sound notes of the correct pitch is sometimes a matter of hit and miss! It's a good noise though and I'll be featuring it here and there on future recordings." 


    Wandre Tri-Lam

    The Eastwood Wandre ’Tri-Lam' is now discontinued, but you can see how it inspired certain aspects of both of our Bill Nelson signature series... so it's not a surprise he also liked the Tri-lam! 

    The original models were wild and weird electric guitars famous for their original shapes, aluminum necks and unique switches. The guitars were originally designed and manufactured in early 1960s by Pioli in Cavriago, Italy. Very small productions were made, which makes these guitars very sought-after in vintage guitar market.


    And to finish or list, the very cool Eastwood California Rebel, a reissue of a rare 60's model originally targeted at the surf-music scene. It was hybrid of the VOX Phantom, the EKO Violin and the Mosrite. This is the guitar Bill Nelson was photographed with, and he posed alongside David Bowie's guitarist Reeves Gabrels, a few years ago.

    Bill Nelson (right) and Reeves Gabrels. 


     Eastwood Classic 6 customized by Bill Nelson

    Sorry, everyone, but this one's not for sale! Sitting at our Liverpool HQ, this is a custom Classic 6, hand-painted by Bill Nelson. At the time of writing, we're not planning to sell this baby... so hands off!

    - by Ivan S.

    For a complete (or as complete as possible!) list of Bill Nelson guitars, including non-Eastwood models, check this blog post on Bill's official website.