Classic Guitars, part 6: Rickenbacker 330/360

”Braaaaaaannnng!!!”

The opening chord to the Beatles’ classic ”A Hard Day’s Night” says it all; this is what Rickenbacker-guitars are all about: clarity, jangle and a piano-like attack.

Rickenbacker’s most successful models are the 300-series, especially the models 330 and 360.

In 1958 the Californian company introduced its brand-new Capri-range – 12 semiacoustic models designed by German luthier Roger Rossmeisl. The whole range featured bodies that started out as a solid slab of wood, into which large hollow pockets were carved. The glued-in neck was made from maple or a combination of maple and walnut.

The model designations started with 310, with the lower numbers indicating a short-scale model – just like John Lennon’s 325 (= short scale, three pickups, vibrato).

Full-scale guitars carried higher model numbers, with 360 and above being Deluxe-versions featuring bound necks and bodies, as well as large triangular pearloid inlays in their fingerboards.

Between ’58 and ’64 all models had a rather angular body shape with pointed horns and sharp edges. In 1964 Rickenbacker switched the Deluxe models to a more rounded shape with a softly radiused top, which is why these versions only carry body binding on the back.

Famous users of the edgier, early versions were John Lennon (325) and George Harrison (a 12-string 360/12) as well as Pete Townshend, who used and smashed a whole load of the 370’s ”Export” version (called the ”1998” by British importer Rosetti), which featured traditionally shaped f-holes in place of Rickenbacker’s own scimitar-shaped openings.

Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) and REM’s Peter Buck are known for using Ricks with the newer body design.

In addition to a Rickenbacker’s idiosyncratic sound, relatively narrow necks are also typical of the company, as is the Rick-O-Sound stereo output option (only on the Deluxe guitars).

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