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The Beatles in 1964

The Beatles Rickenbackers

Subject: The Beatles Rickenbackers-What you always wanted to know
From: beatles@nyc.pipeline.com (Glickman Children)
Date: 28 Apr 1996 16:41:32 -0400

When European Beatlemania first started, several British music 
instruments distributors contacted Rickenbacker. They wished to
capitalize on the Beatle-created interest in Rickenbacker since The
Beatles were becoming the biggest hit craze in Europe. F.C. Hall, 
owner of Rickenbacker, was unaware of the group, till he received 
pictures of John Lennon and George Harrison using Rickenbackers. 

In November 1963 the people at Rickenbacker realized a business 
opportunity was unfolding in Europe. However, by January 1964 F.C.
Hall knew that the company he had carefully managed and cautiously
expanded was on the brink of a major turning point with the Beatles
the cause. 

Hall went on to tell his salesman that the Beatles were coming to
America and that a short Beatles' film would be on the Jack Paar
television show. The group would appear in person on the Ed
Sullivan Show three times in February. He also said, "If the boys
are as popular in the U.S. as they are now in Britain, it will be
impossible for us to begin to make enough guitars to supply the
demands. You may think I am boasting, but this is a fact." 

John Lennon's affair with Rickenbacker guitars started in 1960 when
he saw Toots Thielmans who endorsed Rickenbacker. The Rickenbacker
Lennon bought was a natural finish model 325, a three-quarter size
guitar with four control knobs and three pickups. Mr. Hall
remembers selling this guitar to West Germany dealer Walter Hofner
at a Chicago trade show in 1959. John's guitar was one of eight such
guitars made in 1958. 

Pictures of the Beatles in Hamburg cataloged the evolution of John's
first 325. Lennon was no stickler for original parts on this guitar,
which he was quick to modify, removing the stock Kauffman vibrato
tailpiece to add a Bigsby vibrato replacement. The next part to go
were the original television style control knobs; there were at least
two different types of replacements. For a while the knobs on John's
guitar were like Hofner violin bass knobs. 

John had his first 325 refinished black by Jim Burns in 1963. It had
a single gold backed lucite pickguard. All of John's other Ricks had
double white pickguards. John's guitar was reported stolen in 1964. 

The company shipped an updated 1964 model 325 to John in Miami the
week of their second performance on the Ed Sullivan show in Feb.
1964. John's second model 325 had a black factory finish, an Ac'cent
vibrato unit, fifth knob mixer control, and white double pickguards.
Like John's first Rickenbacker, his second one had a solid top with
no F hole. Unlike his early "short arm" his new guitar had a slim
body with a slightly smaller headstock, both characteristics of the
mid 1960's 325 guitars. 

Lennon had at least 2 more Ricks between 1964 and 1966. One of these
was the first model 325/12. Rickenbacker shipped the 325/12 to the
Beatles' London office of March of 1964. It got delayed somehow which
concerned both sides of the Atlantic. 

Finally Lennon got his guitar and used it in the promotional film for
'Ticket To Ride' suggesting that he use the guitar on the record too. 

John's fourth Rickenbacker was like a Rose, Morris model 1996 was
Fireglo. 

George Harrison was the second Beatle to use a Rickenbacker. He
bought his first Rick in 1963 while visiting his sister who lived
in St. Louis. It was a stock black model 425 with one pickup. Soon
he got the a Rickenbacker 360/12. 

Mr. Hall met the Beatles in NYC during the week when they met Ed
Sullivan. Toots, John, Paul, and Ringo were there. Lennon tried the
first 12 string and of course Paul tried the Rickenbacker bass.
George had the flu and couldn't make it. He replied on the phone he
like it and it was a Rickenbacker. George's first electric 12 string
to have the reversed style stringing. It had a Fireglo finish. The
guitar had double white pickguards and little black knobs. Later the
1964 model had changed. 

Paul McCartney was the third Beatle to use a Rickenbacker. His first
was a double pickup, left handed model 4001S with a Fireglo finish.
Mr. Hall brought it to NYC in 1964. Paul said he liked his light
weight Hofner for concerts etc. but he still used it in the studio.
Paul took the bass again in 1964 during the week of the Hollywood
Bowl concerts. 

When the Beatles quit live performances and moved into the studio,
Paul used the Rickenbacker. You can hear the guitar on Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Culb Band. Paul refinished his Rick psychedelic paint
job during the Magical Mystery Tour phase. Later he stripped it into
a natural finish. In the 1970's he removed the horseshoe pickup and
installed a new under-string unit in its place.   
-- 
 
Ron Avidan Glickman 
"The Walrus was Paul"--J.W.L.








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