The iconic neon guitar that beckoned visitors to the Las Vegas Hard Rock Café for 27 years has found a new home — and new life — at the city’s Neon Museum.
The 82-foot-tall sign, Inspired by Pete Townshend’s No. 9 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, was unplugged when the cafe, which sat adjacent to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Paradise Boulevard, closed in 2016.
Now, after a top-to-bottom restoration by Young Electric Sign Co. of Las Vegas, the sign’s creators, the guitar has been re-electrified and sits prominently in the museum’s Boneyard, where dozens of other decommissioned neon artifacts from the desert city’s glory days are also on public display.
Young’s technicians spent 1,650 hours refurbishing and installing the sign, re-electrifying its three-quarter miles of glass tubes so they buzz again with red, white and gold neon. The sign’s 1,538 10-watt incandescent bulbs aglow again too, spelling out “Hard Rock Cafe” across the guitar’s body.
After its installation at the restaurant in 1990, the guitar quickly became a city landmark and appeared in several Hollywood films, including 1992’s “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” and National Lampoon’s 1997 “Vegas Vacation.”
When the Hard Rock Cafe closed in 2016, Young took back the sign, refurbished it, then donated the piece to the Neon Museum. A crowdfunding campaign helped pay for the two-year restoration project and ensures its future maintenance.
Visitors can view the fully illuminated sign plus dozens of other historic Vegas neon totems at the Neon Museum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and exhibiting Las Vegas’ historic signs. The museum offers public access and guided tours daily.
Info: Neon Museum tickets from $17