Commonly associated with iconic players such as John Lennon and Lemmy Kilmister, Rickenbacker guitars are just as iconic as they are playable. Their noticeable profile gives them charisma when onstage with the player, giving a musician noticeable confidence and zeal to go through even the longest of sets. They also make bass guitars which cater to players more suited to the lower tonal spectrum of stringed instrument playing.
The Rickenbacker guitar and bass have a long and storied history all the way back from their humble start in Santa Ana, California to headlining festivals with the likes of Paul Weller and REM. Currently, Rickenbacker offers a full line of guitars and basses to cater to many different styles of music, from hollow body guitars with the signature Rick-O-Sound pickups to beefy basses capable of rocking out the most intense metal concerts.
History of Rickenbacker Guitars
The Rickenbacker Guitar company as we know it today first got its start as the Ro-Pat-In Corporation run by a man named Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp, and originally sold Hawaiian guitars. These guitars were also electric, and were designed by Beauchamp, and were typically assembled with the help of the National String Instruments Corporation. The brand name Richenbacher was chosen later on after their start.
The lap steel guitars created by this company are often cited as one of the first solid bodied guitars to ever be invented, due to their inclusion of pickups that had horseshoe shaped magnets which arched over where the strings were placed on the instrument. These guitars were colloquially referred to as “frying pans” because of their circular bodies and long necks somewhat reminiscent of a banjo.
Amplifiers were also created by the Rickenbacher Company to go along with their electric lap steels and guitars. Some of these amps proved to be rather defective after regular use, and were often sent to a local repair man named Leo Fender, whom guitar aficionados know as the man behind Fender Guitars. The Richenbacher Company also changed its name to Rickenbacker in order to avoid any association with the Germans and the Axis forces during the World Wars.
Rickenbacker guitars enjoyed resurgence in the 1960's, thanks in part to the rising popularity of the Beatles. The three-pickup Rickenbacker guitar used by John Lennon helped to strongly associate the company with the band, and became somewhat of an icon in the Beatles' hands. Lennon's Rickenbacker was also heavily modified, as he enjoyed having his guitars tinkered with.
The British Invasion helped to elevate Rickenbacker guitars to cult popularity status, and lasted throughout the era of New Wave and Britpop. Currently, players such as Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher have been seen using a Rickenbacker guitar or two during sets, often citing the British bands of yesteryear as their influences in music as well as guitar choices. Collectors, hobbyists, and professional musicians alike in this day and age have found an affinity for the jangly and twangy tones of the Rickenbacker guitar to suit their tonal palette quite well.
The Rickenbacker Guitar Lineup
The Rickenbacker guitar lineup of today retains many favorites from yesteryear as well as modern inspired guitars to cater to more technical players. There is something for everyone in the wide variety of Rickenbacker guitars today, catering to the hobbyist, collector or professional musician seeking a quality instrument with a time-proven design.
The 300 series of Rickenbacker guitars feature the hollow body design commonly associated with British Invasion groups back in the day. The upbeat and jangly tones of the patented Rickenbacker pickups combined with the hollow body design give the characteristic tone many associate with the Rickenbacker guitar, as well as easy playability. At a premium price, you are bound to get every bit of what you pay for.
Rickenbacker is also known for their bass guitars found in their 4000 Series. These bass guitars have also gained iconic status, with famous players including the heavy metal icon Lemmy Kilmister. Suited for metal, Britpop and everything in between, the diverse tones you will be able to get out of these bass guitars will keep you playing for longer hours than you usually do. These basses feature neck-through construction as well as excellent playability at premium prices.
Famous Rickenbacker Guitar Users
Commonly associated with the British Invasion movement of the 60's, the Rickenbacker guitar has enjoyed great popularity thanks to arguably the biggest band of all time, the Beatles. Other prominent British artists such as Paul Weller of the Jam, as well as Noel Gallagher of Oasis have helped propel Rickenbacker guitars to their well deserved place in our rock n' roll lexicon.
The Rickenbacker bass has also seen great popularity since its introduction, and was also a choice of many British bands back in the day. John Entwistle of The Who, as well as Peter Quaife of the Kinks were early adapters of the Rickenbacker 4000 basses, inspiring the likes of Lemmy Kilmister to further push the Rickenbacker bass to the limit. The Rickenbacker bass has also enjoyed screen time in the 2010 movie adaptation of the cult comic Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in the hands of the title character.
Whether you are aiming to start a tribute band of your favorite musical group from the British Invasion to the most blood-curdling metal band you can possibly imagine, the Rickenbacker guitar and bass are diverse instruments suitable for almost any style of music that you like to play.