Rickenbacker Guitars were founded in 1931 by Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp (pronounced Beechum).
The company started out with the Frying Pan This was a steel guitar designed and made by Beauchamp. It featured a horseshoe magnetic pickup that surrounded the strings. The body was round and the neck looked like a long handle.
One of the key designers that came to work for Rickenbacker was Roger Rossmeisl. He learned his craft from working with his father, Wenzel Rossmeisl. Wenzel had founded Roger Guitars in Germany and manufactured fine quality archtop hollow body guitars. In fact Wenzel Rossmeisl e may have been the first electric guitar manufacturer in post-war Germany.
While in Germany, Roger had communicated with Ted McCarty and was offered a job with Gibson. After conflicts with the company, Rossmeisl left and was offered a job by Paul Barth, who was managing Rickenbacker guitars for Francis C. Hall.
Rossmeisl stayed with Rickenbacker for eight years before being hired by Fender. Rossmeisl also had some history with Semie Mosley and Mosrite guitars. Rossmeisl has become well known in the industry for the German Carve. This is a beveled carve around the guitars perimeter which causes the guitars top to stand out.
Rickenbacker uses numbers ending in zero for all full scale instruments. Numbers ending in 5 are indicative of a short scale neck.
Many Rickenbackers are sculpted from a solid piece of wood and the capped with and arched or flat top. This guitar had a flat Alder top with no soundholes. Lennon's guitar was one of the first batch made. Subsequent models after 1958 boasted a soundhole.
For reasons unknown, Lennon disconnected the middle pickup. The Rickenbacker 3 way selector only allowed for one pickup at a time. Perhaps he was trying to get the neck/bridge pickup combination.
Harrison's Gretsch Rocket came with a Bigsby Vibrato, so Lennon removed the existing vibrato and put on a Bigsby unit. A Bigsby bow tie bridge was also installed.
Lennon owned two other Rickenbacker 325 Capri's. One was purchased while the Beatles were in Miami. The other was purchased at Rose-Morris Music (which was Rickenbacker's main U.K. distributor) in 1996. The middle pickup on these subsequent instruments remained working. These also had the two step Ric' pickguard.
After playing standard sized instruments a 20" neck would be a challenge not just to play, but to keep in tune.
The Model 325C64 duplicated the Model 325 as produced in 1964. complete with semi-hollow Maple body, instead of Alder, re-shaped body and headstock, three vintage-style pickups, and Rickenbackers Accent Vibrato. This model is still available.
So get out your Cuban boots and collarless jackets and look Fab with your totally Gear Ricky 325.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
Here is a very interesting video of John Hall, the current owner of Rickenbacker