Sunday, January 27, 2019

Zane Carney Höfner Jazzica Model

Zane Carney Hofner Jazzica  Model
I recently learned that Höfner Guitars has just introduced The Zane Carney Jazzica Model guitar.  For anyone not familiar with Höfner, this is the German company that is probably most recognized for it's "Paul McCartney" 500/1 Violin bass guitar.

Karl Höfner GmbH & Co. KG, better known as the Hofner Company, has been manufacturing stringed musical instruments for over 100 years, and was founded by Karl Höfner.

Karl Höfner

Höfner was originally apprenticed to Anton Schaller, who made violins, violas, cellos and double bass instruments. In 1887 Karl Höfner founded his workshop in Schönbach, to build his own instruments under his name. He established quite a reputation throughout Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and other European countries.

The First Höfner Factory in Schönbach
After the first World War Karl's sons, Josef and Walter came into the family business and began  exporting of Höfner stringed instruments into new markets. It was not until the 1930’s that the company ventured into building guitars.

The earliest models of Höfner guitars were steel stringed instruments which had carved arched tops, or soundboards, based on violin design. At the time  the company employed around 30 craftsmen and approximately 300 home workers.

During World War II, production was limited, and Höfner was conscripted to make transport crates and shoe soles for the German army At the end of the war, the Czech and German speaking population of Schönbach were expropriated due to the division of the spoils of war. The result was that the company, due to its location, was at the time, recognized by the Communist Czech state, was acquired by the Czech government.

Höfner Factory at Möhrendorf
Because of this situation the Höfner family decided to apply for a leave and in 1948 started the the business from the ground up by relocating to Möhrendorf, Bavaria. It was a struggle to resume the business as supplies were very scarce due to the war.

Walter and Josef Höfner began working on a way to build a new factory and find houses in which their craftsmen could live.

Höfner Factory at Bubenreuth
After extensive negotiations with political leaders, in 1949 Höfner was able to relocate to the small village of Bubenreuth and once again begin violin making in this municipality. Their business was resumed by 1950.

It was during this era that many of the company’s best known guitars were created. These included The President, The Committee and the model 500/1 bass guitar. It was also during the 1950’s that Rock n’ Roll exploded on the scene.

Mid 1950's  Höfner Club 60
This unforeseen change caused guitar production to swell to 50% of Höfner’s overall business In the 1950s and 1960s,  To accommodate the demand, Höfner instruments partnered with Selmer of London for distribution. The companies guitars were considerably more accessible to budding European, and British musicians than American-made guitars, which were expensive if obtainable at all.

This gave Höfners a place in history as the "starter" instruments of several well known 1960s musicians.

Höfner built another production site in the town of Haguenau to escape the room shortage in Bubenreuth.  although also the complex was expanded in Bubenreuth three times. Later in 1961 import restrictions on goods imported from the USA were relaxed and American guitar manufacturers began to take hold in Britain and Europe. Unfortunately this did take away some business from Höfner.

Another complicating factor that reduced the demand for European guitars was the proliferation of low priced Asian instruments into the music market. Gerhilde Höfner Benker, Karl's granddaughter, and her husband Christian Benker did their best to keep the company competitive, but by 1991 Höfner was sold to the British company Boosey and Hawkes.

In the Boosey and Hawkes portfolio, there were already a number of musical instrument manufacturers including the viol bow manufacturer Paesold.  By 1995 the two companies merged under the Höfner name.

1960 Höfner President

As mentioned, Höfner had already introduced a number of  archtop guitars as early as the 1930. By the 1950’s the line up included The President, The Committee, The Senator, The Congress, The Verithin, The Ambassador, and others. Some came in both acoustic, as well as electric versions. At present, all high end Höfner guitars are still made by skilled craftsmen in Hagenau, Bavaria, Germany.

1990 Höfner Jazzica
The Höfner Jazzica was not offered until 1989. The design of this guitar resulted from the work of Klaus Schïller who started at the Höfner factory in 1986. Mr. Schïller is still with Höfner and is now the company's Chief Executive Officer.

The Jazzica model was revolutionary in archtop design when it first appeared in early 1989, perhaps due to its highly tapered body which provided ease of playing the guitar.

Additionally, the rounded jointing of the neck to the body at the 16th fret aided access to the fingerboard.  The "slash" or “S” type soundholes and stunning finishes, violin varnish, or polyester, were also quite eye catching.

A carved solid European spruce top was used. The original models featured a Shadow Attila Zoller floating pickup, which was mounted off the bodies top by attaching it to the end of the fingerboard, This pickup provided the correct low end acoustic properties desired by most Jazz guitar players

1994 Jazzica Special

In 1991, the Jazzica Special model was introduced with a standard blonde finish, This instrument provided with binding around the rear body edge. The original Jazzica had no binding on the body back, presumably as this would not have fitted in aesthetically with the dark gloss finishes chosen for it and the overall style of the guitar.

2004 Höfner Jazzica Custom
Next the Jazzica Custom model was offered and had a single Jazzica Höfner pickup, and an ornate headstock design. A blonde finish was standard on the Custom, but it was also available in brown sunburst, and violin varnish finishes. This guitar included an ebony pickguard.

A 24-fret fingerboard with a 25.5" scale has been used on the Jazzica throughout its production run. The bound fretboard is made of ebony wood, as is the headstock veneer on the later models. The inlays are mother-of-pearl split bock style. The pickguard/scratchplate is a carved block of ebony, and the same wood is used for the violin style tailpiece, as well as the machine head buttons.

Jazzica Sound Hole Plugs
One unique item is included with this guitar. These are “S” shaped,sound hole plugs that slip into the sound holes in order to reduce feedback when playing the guitar at high amplified volumes.

And though the Jazzica was not present in Hofner Catalogs after 2008, thanks to Höfner’s relationship with guitarist Zane Carney, it is once again being made available, and at the remarkable price of $2000 USD, with a deluxe flight case. Considering this is pretty much a hand-built instrument, it is a great deal.

Zane Carney
For those who haven’t heard of Zane Carney, he grew up in a very musical family, and learned to sing, and play guitar. He has played guitar for Johnny Lang. John Mayer, Avril Lavange, among others. Zane fronted the original house band for U2’s Broadway production, “Spiderman, Turn Off The Dark”, which featured his brother, Reeve, in the title roll.

His band was called Carney, and included his brother. I left out the fact that at age 8, Zane was a child actor, appearing in the CBS show Dave’s World, and the 1998 movie, My Giant.

2004 Höfner New President
Zane seemed to migrate to Jazz style guitars since the start of his career. In 2004 he was given a Höfner New President by the company for artistic consideration.

Zane stated that while touring the  Hofner factory, his eyes caught sight of a Jazzica model that was on display. He was told the Jazzica was only produced in limited quantities. He asked if he could buy that guitar, and of course they gladly sold it to him.

John Buscarino

He began making a few modifications to his new instrument. He contacted luthier John Buscarino and asked if he built any floating pickups that would enhance mid-range sounds.

Buscarino Floating Pickup
Zane replaced the stock Höfner humbucker with a Buscarino floating pickup. He also had the back of the neck sanded down, as he prefers the feel of bare wood.

Zane generally uses the sound hole plug on the lower “S” hole to help reduce feedback, but since the upper hole is not blocked it enhances the instruments acoustic feel when he is practicing.

He says what stands out on this guitar is the tapered body, which goes from about a 4” depth at the heel of the guitar, to a depth of 2 1/2” at the upper section of the body.

Zane Carney
Höfner Jazzica

The instruments top is AAA grade European Spruce, and the sides and back are flamed maple. The head stock is a Höfner vintage style. As mentioned, the machine heads come with ebony buttons. The jumbo nickel-silver frets are hand slotted instead of done on a machine. The floating ebony bridge is compensated for the B string, to aid in intonation. As an archtop guitar, this instrument has a floating bridge, so the neck is pitched at an angle. This guitar has an ebony violin style tailpiece.

Zane Carney his
Höfner Jazzica model
In 2019 Höfner announced that it is producing the Zane Carney Jazzica model. The guitar is a fully hollow archtop model with a hand carved European Spruce top. It can be ordered “relic’d” to match Zane’s personal instrument, or with the original brown-burst finish.

The Buscarino pickup is pre-installed in the United States by Eric Chazz, who also tapers down the original ebony pickguard for enhanced playing.

Included in the price is a flight-ready hardshell case with a built in humidifier. The instrument comes with a certificate of authentication, and the model sticker inside the sound hole has Zane’s signature. The guitar is available from Zane’s web site,

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reggie Young - The Most Heard Guitarist That You Have Never Heard Of

Unless you have watched Gil Baker’s movie “Session Men”, most of us have never heard of Reggie Young. But if you turned on the radio, or purchased records in the late 1960’s through the 1990’s, you have heard Reggie Young.

He was the guitarist on over 120 hit records, that were all recorded in Memphis Tennessee’s American Sound Studio. Reggie Young was the guitarist in the house band. He was one of the most respected session men.

Reggie Young and The Memphis Boys
with Elvis at American Studios
He has recorded with some of the most well known artists of the day, such as Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, B.J. Thomas, Dusty Springfield, Dobie Gray, The Box Tops, King Curtis, Otis Redding, Jimmy Webb, Petula Clark, and so many others.

His distinctive guitar can be heard on “Son of A Preacher Man”, “Drift Away”, “Suspicious Minds”, “In The Ghetto”, “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”, Billy Swan (I Can Help), and “Sweet Caroline”.

Reggie Young with Electric Sitar

His Coral Electric sitar can be heard on “Cry Like A Baby”, and “Hooked On A Feeling.”

Reggie Young passed away on January 17th, at his home just outside of Nashville, in the small town of Leipers Fork. He was 82 years old.

The great thing about Reggie, and all the other session players on these recognizable hits, is that  when the singer or songwriter came to the studio, they had a song, but usually no arrangement.

The session players would listen to the songs, at just jumped in, playing in the groove. Within a short period of time, they had not only a musical arrangement, but a hit recording. They knew music, and they knew the styles of the day, and they made those songs their own.

B.J. Thomas, The Memphis Boys
 & Chips Moman
B.J. Thomas came to American Studios with the song “Hooked On A Feeling”, and Reggie Young stepped up with his electric sitar, and played that outstanding signature lick, that turned that song into a hit. He did the same with The Box Tops recording, “Cry Like A Baby”. It was his inspiration that made the electric sitar a part of so many other songs of that era.

A long time ago, after Eric Clapton learned who was playing those guitar parts, he declared that Reggie Young was the greatest player he ever heard.

A younger Reggie Young

Young’s family moved to Memphis in 1950. By age 15 Reggie was gigging with local bands. He played with a local rockabilly singer named Eddie Bond, and put his signature lick on Bond’s recording, “Rockin’ Daddy”.

He was later hired by country star Johnny Horton, before getting a job in the house band at the South Memphis Royal Studios/Hi Records, where he recorded hits with Bill Black’s Combo.

Reggie Young with
The Bill Black Combo
After a tour in the Army, Reggie Young was offered a job with the CIA, but opted to join Bill Black’s touring band instead.  In 1964 The Bill Black Combo was the opening act for The Beatles during a British tour.

In the mid-1960’s Young began working with Chips Moman at his American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, as part of the house band known as The Memphis Boys.

American Sound Studio

This small, undescript building produced an unprecedented string of hit records for so many popular artists, especially in the 1970’s.

Reggie Young

In 1972 Reggie Young left Memphis and headed to Nashville for the studio work there.

Reggie with Merle Haggard
For the next 20 years, his guitar work can be heard on recordings by Merle Haggard (Pancho and Lefty), Willie Nelson (Always On My Mind”, Waylon Jennings (Luckenbach, Texas), Kenny Rogers (Lucille, and The Gambler), and Reba McEntire (Little Rock).

Reggie Young and his wife Jenny Lynn
Reggie Young also recorded with Bob Dylan, Gladys Knight, The Staple Singers, Paul Simon, Herbie Mann, Joe Cocker, B.B. King, Cat Stevens, Sinead O’Connor. Tanya Tucker, Eddie Rabbitt, Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristoferson.

Young playing lead guitar
with The Highwaymen
Reggie Young took a break for session work when he was asked to join the touring group for The Highwaymen.

During his tenure in Memphis, and Nashville, Young would do at least 20 sessions a week.

Dobie Gray
He was working in a Nashville studio, when record producer Mentor Williams was doing songs for Dobie Gray, and asked Reggie if he had an idea for the intro. On the spot Reggie played that iconic guitar part for “Drift Away”. It became one of the biggest hits of 1972.

Reggie Young can be heard playing the very recognizable opening finger-style G to C major lick on Elvis’ hit recording “Suspicious Minds”

Country Music HOF "Nashville Cats"
In 2008 he was saluted by the Nashville community as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Nashville Cats” series. In 2017 Reggie Young released his first solo album titled “Forever Young.” It is a 24 track compilation of selected cuts from songs that he played on.

A recording was in the works at the time of his death, called Reggie Young: Session Guitar Star. It is due out on January 25 on the U.K. label Ace Records.

Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information. 
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Rickenbacker 360/12 and a Little History About RIC 12 String Guitars

1966 Rickenbacker 360/12
Perhaps one of the most iconic guitars in Rock history, not just by sight, but by sound is the Rickenbacker 360/12 string guitar.

The Rickenbacker company was started by Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp.

Adolph Rickenbacher

Adolph Rickenbacher was a Swiss immigrant, and was an electrical engineer. He settled in Los Angeles and in the 1920’s opened a tool and dye shop. Rickenbacher also Anglicized his name to capitalize on the popularity of his cousin, Eddie Rickenbacker, the WWI Flying Ace.

National String Instrument Co.

In the 1920's, one of Rickenbacker’s most important clients was The National String Instrument Corporation, which was owned by the Dopyera Brothers. They made National Resonator guitars.  And  it was the Rickenbacker Tool and Dye Company that fabricated the bodies.

George Beauchamp

The other founder of Rickenbacker was George Beauchamp (pronounced Bee-chum). He was a vaudeville performer, and played the violin, and lap steel guitar. He was on a quest for a louder sounding guitar.

1920's Stroviol guitar

At some point he had seen an unusual instrument that had a horn on it, and was searching for someone to built such a model for him. He met John Dopyera, who was repairing violins, and asked for his help. The first prototype did not work.

National Resonator Guitar

Dopyera and his brothers came up with the idea of creating a thin cone of three aluminum resonators that had a guitar bridge straddling them. This cone was placed In a metal bodied guitar, with a wooden neck. They dubbed this the Tri-Cone.

Sol Hoopi

Beachamp wanted to join the Dopyera’s in manufacturing these instruments. To do this he sought funds for this venture. He wound up as a guest at a party given by a millionaire named Ted Kleinmeyer. Another attendee at this same party was the most gifted Hawaiian guitarist of the day; Sol Hoopi.  He was playing at the party. Beachamp gave Hoopi a prototype to play.

He talked up the prospects of this instrument so well that the interested Kleinmeyer cut a check for $12,000.

Beachamp went on to become shop manager for National String Instruments. Beachamp was also experimenting with new ideas, which did not sit well with the Dopyeras, who just wanted to manufacture resonator guitars.

Due to the his initial investment, Kleinmeyer also owned a stake in the company and was demanding returns. Some other internal disputes occurred, and John Dopyera quit the company.  He went on to start The Dobro Company. Beachamp, and others were fired.

1937 Rickenbacker Frying Pan 
Beachamp, and his friend and co-worker Harry Watson, who had been fired from National went on to invent the first electric guitar, which was dubbed The Frying Pan due to its appearance. In order to manufacture it, Beachamp sought the help of Adolph Rickenbacker, and the men set up the Ro-Pat-In Company.

It was  later known as the Electro String Company. The instruments were called Rickenbackers. Two other engineers, Paul Barth and Billy Lane worked on designing and building amplifiers for the company.

F.C. Hall CEO of Rickenbacker
Francis Hall, best known as F.C. Hall became interested in electronics, so much so that by the time he was 18, he had established a business recharging batteries and delivering them to homes. This venture blossomed into an electronic parts company called The Radio and Television Equipment Company. He made public address systems for schools and churches.

In 1946 his company began distributing steel guitar and amplifier sets made by Fender Guitars, by doing so he became part of the early Fender legend.

By 1950 Adolph Rickenbacker and his associates were looking to divest the guitar business. So  F.C. Hall purchased the Electro String Company with the intent that in-house manufacturing would improve the product.

This was an era of much change in the live music industry. Big bands gave way to small combos, and the Swing Music of the 1940’s gave way to Country and Western, and Rock and Roll. The Electric guitar became the instrument for Rock, and for Country Western players. F.C. Hall saw the trend was to move away from the steel guitar that Electro String was producing, and concentrate on what was then called the electric Spanish guitar.

Rickenbacker Combo 600 and 800
To update the Rickenbacker line, he introduced the Combo 600 and 800 guitars, designed for the most part by factory manager Paul Barth. Each differed only in its electronics-the 800's horseshoe pickup had two coils, which was called the "Rickenbacker Multiple-Unit."

Unfortunately they did not patent this design. When used in combination, these coils were humbucking; when used separately, one coil accentuated treble and one bass. Ted McCarty of Gibson, and his design team later came up with the Humbucking pickup.

1956 Rickenbacker Combo 400
Rickenbacker next introduced was the student model 400, better known as the tulip shaped guitar. This guitar featured the neck extending from the head of the neck to the base of the body, with the sides of the guitar body bolted and/or glued into place.

Rickenbacker was first to mass produce instruments like this, and the design would soon became their trademark. Perhaps this was due to the companies history of building lap steel guitars in this manner, as they were essentially a neck with pickups on top.

It was in 1958 that Rickenbacker introduced the hollow body 6-string Capri models, introduced in 1958. These were mainly designed by German luthier Roger Rossmeisl.

Toots Thielemans with a Capri
in front of 1959 Rickenbacker models
This line-up featured three types, each distinguished by a different body style. The first group had 2-inch-thick double-cutaway bodies, while the second group had 3 1/2-inch thick single-cutaway bodies. The third grouping was a catch-all category for instruments with even deeper bodies, which included the acoustic models.

All Capri styles came with or without Vibrato and either two or three pickups. Customers chose either deluxe-style fingerboard inlays and bindings or standard inlays and no bindings.

1959 Rickenbacker 360 Capri
The Capris had slim and narrow "fast action" necks, which appealed to many. Standard colors in 1958 included Hi Lustre Blonde (a natural maple finish) and Autumnglo (a 2-tone brown sunburst). Fireglo (the pink to red sunburst we now know so well) was added in 1959.

Standard finishes for Rickenbacker solid bodies included Cloverfield blue-green, natural maple, gold-tinged Montezuma Brown, and Black Diamond. Virtually any color was available on any model by special order, and the factory made them.  In the late 1960s the standard colors would include Azureglo-blue and Burgundyglo.

By the early 1960’s, Folk Music briefly came on the scene, but left a lasting impression. The twelve string guitar made it’s mark with Folk players. So in 1963 Rickenbacker began developing its version of the 12 string guitar by first using the Capri 360 style body.

1963 360/12
The company created three prototypes, all incorporating the unique headstock design submitted by employee Dick Burke. The design features three tuners on each side mounted as on a standard guitar, with the tuner posts projecting out from the face of the headstock. Two parallel channels are machined into the face of the headstock, reminiscent of the slots in the headstock of a classical guitar, but cut only halfway through the headstock. Three more Kluson tuners are attached to each side of the headstock.

360/12 headstock
The knobs of the tuners project towards the rear of the headstock, and the posts transect the slots in the headstock. This innovation minimizes the size of the headstock, and keeps the instrument from feeling "head-heavy" in the player's hands. It is also one of the very few twelve string guitars to use a conventional width six-string neck,

This is a very noticeable and unique feature on Rickenbacker 12 string guitars.

John Hall - CEO of Rickenbacker
A long time ago, before Facebook, and other social media sites existed, their were chat rooms on the internet that one could go to. One of these was Liszt, which had a site called ALT-Rickenbacker.

F.C. Halls son, John Hall, who was by then running the business with his wife Cindalee, answered a question for me about the Rickenbacker 12 string headstock design. He stated the style was purely economic. The headstock was of a similar size to the six string model, so turning it into a 12 string was easy, plus the twelve string guitar fit in the same size case as the six string. That sure made practical business sense.

Narrow neck on 360/12
As mentioned the Rickenbacker twelve string model spacing on the twelve string model is the same as the spacing on the six string model; 1.63”. It can be somewhat more difficult to play cleanly for those with large hands/fingers, as the string courses are much closer together than they would normally be on most twelve string guitars.

Another feature is that Rickenbacker chose to place the thicker strings on the bottom of each course, while all other manufacturers put the lighter string on the bottom.

This seems to add to the jangly Rickenbacker sound of their twelve string model. And it is this jangly sound that appeals to Rickenbacker players.

Suzi Arden's Rickenbacker 360/12

Rickenbacker gave the first of these prototypes to Suzi Arden, who was a Las Vegas country music entertainer.

Perhaps as a result of working with Leo Fender, The companies owner Francis (F.C.) Hall was following Mr. Fenders method of providing entertainers with instrument to test run, and hope for brand recognition. Most of Fender's first players were Country and Western artists, since this music was popular in 1950's California.

Rose Morris Shaftesbury
note the pickup

Rickenbacker's franchisee in the U.K. was Rose Morris and Company, which was a very old British firm, that distributed, sold, and manufactured music related instruments. They sold Rickenbacker guitars. Initially they were re-badged as Shaftesbury electric guitars.

'64 Rose Morris Rickenbacker 12 string

Later they were sold under the Rickenbacker brand, but with a distinct difference; Rose Morris models had a standard "f" hole instead of the Rickenbacker "cats-eye" hole.

If not for the good sense of Harold Buckner, one of Rose Morris' sale representative, the  Rickenbacker Company may not have had the popularity it now enjoys. It was Mr. Buckner that sent a letter to F.C. Hall in November of 1963, alerting him that The Beatles were using Rickenbacker guitars, and advising of their trip to the USA. Buckner stated that they were using models 325, and 425 (George had purchase one on a trip to see his sister in the United States). He advised Hall to get in touch with The Beatles manager, and bring samples of both guitars to the hotel where they would be staying.

(Note:  Rickenbacker guitars with the designation of "25" are short scale models, 20.75". If the designation is "50", these are regular scale, 24.75".)

Brian Epstein - The Beatles manager
So Francis Hall did as suggested and was able to arrange a meeting with the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein before the Beatles had arrived in the United States. His goal was to show the Beatles the different Rickenbacker models that Mr. Buckner suggested, and he also brought along a Rickenbacker prototype guitar 360/12 model, and a left handed model 4001 bass. He met The Beatles on February 8th, 1964.

Hall had set up a special display at the Savoy Hilton hotel in New York City. This display was a showcase for The Beatles, who were in town to play on The Ed Sullivan Show. Although they were staying at the hotel, the Beatles did not see the display in the lobby. Interestingly, Hall also brought Rickenbacker Amplifiers, which he hoped The Beatles might use. He did not know they already had a relationship with Vox,
Hall first offered the twelve string to John Lennon, but Lennon said the guitar would better suit George. Paul McCartney politely declined the bass. But later had second thoughts and was given the 4001 by Rickenbacker. John was later sent a new 325, and about a year after that, a one-of-a-kind 325/12 model.

1964 - Harrison with 360/12

Harrison finally got to see it, and loved it. He remarked.“Straight away I liked that you knew exactly which string was which,” Harrison said, referring to how the guitar’s 12 tuners are grouped in top- and side-mounted pairs on the headstock. “[On some] 12-strings, you spend hours trying to tune it.” (Although, I must admit, Rickenbacker twelve string guitars a a bear to tune.)

Harrison’s first 360/12 was the second Rickenbacker 12-string ever made; its serial number—CM107—dates it to December 1963. The main difference between it and the prototype is how they are strung.

The initial model given to Suzi Alden, featured a conventional 12-string setup, in which the octave string is the first to be struck in each string pair. However on Harrison’s model and all subsequent Rickenbacker 12-strings, the higher octave strings occur second in the string pairs and the lower-pitched string is struck first.

George Harrison's '63 Rickenbacker 360/12
Harrison’s guitar had a flat trapeze tailpiece, triangle inlays, double white pickguards, black control knobs and mono and stereo (Rick-O-Sound) outputs mounted on a chrome plate on the side of the guitar.

The top and back of the body were bound. and were flat, not like  bodies of modern 360/12' which have rounded sides. Ir had more of the 330 shape. The guitar, with its unique, chiming sound, can be heard on "You Can't Do That," the bulk of the A Hard Day’s Night album, “I Call Your Name,” “What You’re Doing”—and several other songs, up to and including “Ticket to Ride.”

Harrison with his second 360/12

Harrison's second 360/12, a 1965 model had more rounded cutaways, and is heard on “If I Needed Someone.” This instrument was given to him from a radio station, before a Beatles concert in Minneapolis.

Roger (Jim) McQuinn
with a 1964 370/12
His prominent use of the instrument in the film A Hard Day's Night led to high demand for Rickenbacker's twelve-string and caught the eye of then Folksinger/guitar/banjo player Roger McGuinn. McQuinn purchased an off the rack Rickenbacker 370/12, which had three pickups instead of two.

The process that Rickenbacker uses to make their instruments is much different than most other guitar manufacturers. The necks extend most of the way though the guitars body, and end at the point were the bridge pickup would be.

A routed 360 body
note the neck channel
Rickenbacker bodies are routed on the interior to allow openings for the "f" hole, and the electronics, but the base of the body is left solid, since the base of the front is sloped.

After the guitar is produced and the neck, and electronics are installed, the back is then added to the instruments body.

Rickenbacker "Toaster"Single Coil Pickup
Though there are cutouts in the guitars top for the pickups electronics, Rickenbacker pickups are mounted on top of the guitars body with black grommets under the screws to protect the body.

And though Rickenbacker guitars are well-made instruments, and superior to many other manufacturers, if you have a Rickenbacker guitar that needs to have a neck angle adjustment, the guitars back must be removed.

What is Rick-O-Sound? Let me briefly explain that little used feature.

Rick-O-Sound Jack

Many of Rickenbacker"s deluxe guitars are equipped with two output jacks. One is a stand monaural output that is found on virtually all electric guitars.

The second input is a stereo output, designed for use with a stereo equipped amplifier, or with a Rick-O-Sound kit. It can be used to produce special effects as well.

This stereo effect is dependent on the choice of pickups. With the neck pickup on, Rick-O-Sound can produce a lush low EQ bass sound.

Rick-O-Sound Adaptor
In the middle position (both pickups on) it produces a mix of highs and lows, mimicking a chorus effect. The easiest way to use this properly,  is with a Ric-O-Sound stereo adapter. There are secondary companies that offer these adapters.

By using just the bridge pickup, the player achieves a bright and full ringing lead tone. There are many variations, but few players utilize this feature.

The Beatles use of Rickenbacker guitars lead to rapid growth for this small California based manufacturer.

1965 Rickenbacker 370/12
Bands and musicians from both sides of the Atlantic loved the bell-like sound the Rickenbacker 360/12 produced. Roger McGuinn found a model 370/12 at a music store. This guitar featured three pickup, and custom wiring. He still plays that guitar in his concerts.

The Who's Peter Townshend, Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty, Steppenwolf's John Kay, and many other well-known 1960s guitarists became faithful Rickenbacker users. What had been a six-week waiting period from the factory for some models became a six-month (or longer) waiting period in the mid 1960s and can remain so today.

This rapid growth in demand led to changes in the company. Before 1964 all Rickenbacker guitars had been made at the original Electro String factory in Los Angeles. That year Hall moved his company over a six month period to Santa Ana, California, in nearby Orange County. Despite the disruption in production during the transition, the new factory had increased production capacity. During this same period, the distributor Radio-Tele changed names to Rickenbacker, Inc., thus adopting the name people had used all along anyway.

Rickenbacker 366/12 Convertible
The company went on to make some unusual variation on the model 360. The model 366/12 Convertible was equipped with a large comb-like device. By using a lever it grabbed the upper register strings pulling them downward, so the twelve string guitar was now a six string.

Rickenbacker 331/12 Light Show
The Rickenbacker 331 came as a twelve string model of the 330/12, but with a twist. It is more often referred to as The Light Show Guitar. The top of the body featured some plastic panels, and it was equipped with a frequency modulated internal lighting system

The flashing began when the player hit the strings: yellow for treble notes, red for mid-range, and blue for bass.

Though it was the first, the 360/12 is not the companies best selling 12 string. That distinction belongs to the model 330/12.

1965 Rickenbacker Rose Morris
 330/12 aka model 1993

The model 330 six string became popular with British players such as Peter Weller, and Pete Townsend, so Rickenbacker introduced a 12 string model. Rickenbacker sold this in the U.K. as model 1993/12. It dd not have stereo wiring.

1966 450/12

Around 1965 Rickenbacker introduced the solid body 450/12 string guitar. This guitar had a smaller body, which is sometimes called the "crest" shaped, as in crest of a wave. It came with twin Rickenbacker toaster pickups, and  a bridge/saddle tailpiece. The strings attached to the bridges backside. There was no blender knob on this guitar. The pickups are not mounted on the top of the guitar. This guitar did not feature stereo wiring. The earliest models had a glued on neck. Later ones had the neck through the body.

1987 Rickenbacker 620/12

Another solid body Rickenbacker 12 string guitar is the model 620/12. A prototype of this instrument was first made as the Rickenbacker 625/12 in 1963. Mike Campbell, of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers acquired this guitar, and used it through his career. 

There are several differences between the 450 and the 620 models. The finish is much better on the 620/12, the pickups are mounted on top of the body, and the guitar features a Rickenbacker "R" trapeze tailpiece.

1991 Rickenbacker 620/12 Tom Petty model
Petty eventually got a 620/12, and Rickenbacker took note, and offered the 620/12TP, Tom Petty model. This model comes with the old style version of the trapeze tailpiece. Rickenbacker also made the 660/12TP, which had a deluxe finish.

Rickenbacker 360/12V64 reissue

Although Rickenbacker makes several models of 12 string guitars, it was the Rickenbacker 360/12 that started it all.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further reading.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)