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School Me - Rickenbacker style.

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by wallis222, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm about to take the plunge on a guitar that I've coveted for years... a Rickenbacker. I'm thinking a 360 in Jetglo. I've just got a couple questions:

    -Have they changed much since their inception? If I want classic Rick do I have to go vintage? If so, what year is the cutoff?
    -Is there a certain era to avoid? Or a certain era that represents a great value?
    -Is there a fat neck version/era?

    Thanks guys and gals.

  2. jetlennon

    jetlennon Tele-Meister

    Oct 22, 2012

    I also love rics but can not play their necks. I finally got a 620 but the neck was just to slim.
    Played a 650 a few weeks ago and was very happy because the neck was great! They say the 650 and 660 have fat necks. Played a 660 as well but found the neck not great.
    If you really want the early 60's beatles/birds sound they say you need the toaster pups but i found you could get those sounds from all rics.
    Great looking guitars! Just try and play as many as you can!

  3. Crawfish

    Crawfish Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 21, 2008
    Maryland, USA
    As noted above, the 620/660 have wider necks than other models. Still thin in depth.

    I have a few Rics and I really like them. I played one for years as my #1. My best advice is to play as many as you can find, regardless of the model. Even solidbodies.

    On the thin hollowbody models (330, 340, 360, 370), the biggest differences are that later models (by that I mean 1973 or so onward) have a 24 fret neck and 'Hi-Gain' pickups. The 24 fret neck changes the position of the neck pickup, shifting it down toward the bridge slightly. I think this changes the tone somewhat, but it's not a dealbreaker.

    The change from the 'toaster' pickups is more dramatic. The Hi-Gains are hotter and have much more midrange. The toasters have less output, less mids, and have the definitive chime. Try to play some of each. You can always change the pickups - they are available from Rickenbacker direct, and Jason Lollar makes a version which looks intriguing.

    The biggest neck on a Ric I ever played was on a 1977 370 I had. It was very Les Paul-like. The whole guitar was heavy, midrangey and the pickups were muddy compared to my other Rics. I sold it.

    There is also the body shape on the hollow models to consider. The 330 and 340 have the sharper top edge, the 360 and 370 have the rounded top. There *are* some "OS" (Old Style) 360s and 370s out there - they have the 'sharper' body with binding on both sides. Try both and see what you like.

    Value for the money? I think there are a lot of good deals out there on late 1980s-early 1990s models. I see a lot of these on ebay in nice shape. They're typically 24-fret, hi-gain models. The factory used to offer a 'Vintage Pickup' (aka 'VP') option - you will also see some guitars of that era with factory toasters. See if you can find some of this era and try them out. New ones are similar, but the price is a lot higher.

    The vintage reissue models are very nice. I have a couple and like them a lot. But they are pricier than the standard models.

    Sorry to ramble...hope this is helpful.


  4. taxer

    taxer Banned

    May 11, 2009
    new york
    Yeah, the biggest change in Rics was the move from "toaster" pickups to high-gains. But don't worry. The pickups that Ric uses now - the high gains - make your Ric sound like a Ric. Rickenbacker aren't going to do anything to their guitars to make them sound like some other company's guitars. The high gains are Ric tone all the way.

    There are also three very recent changes Rickenbacker has made to their line and they are great moves by the company.

    1. Rics from the factory used to come with a bizarre hard to find .10-.42 string gauge. It was tough to buy strings for a Ric because of that odd gauge they always used. The .42 on the bass E was a weird one and sometimes you'd have to buy two sets of strings just to get your Ric strung properly. Rickenbacker have now changed that. Now Rics come equipped with a standard .10-.46 gauge that you can easily find.

    2. the pickups on new Rics now come with adjustable polepieces. Rics never had that until very recently (about two years ago the change was made). The old pickups were impossible to get even string volume across all six strings. You'd have to raise one side of the entire pickup, lower the other, blah, blah, blah, just to get your high E to sound louder. And even then, it didn't work too well. Not anymore. Rickenbackers now have adjustable polepieces.

    3. the new Rics now use Caribbean Rosewood for their fretboard. It isn't as orangey as the old wood they used, sounds great, plus it has some very nice wood figuring in it.

    I have a twenty year old 360 12 string (the red one below) and a one year old 330 (the blue). The 330 model is Ric's biggest seller. It has the classic two pointy horns design. It lacks binding and cool fretboard shark fin markers, but, oh, that classic body design is what makes most buy a 330. Twenty years apart in these guitars and the necks are the same. The wider neck comes in the 600 series, but those do not have the classic body design (nor are they hollow body guitars).

    The new Rics are more or less the same as the old Rics. That company knows they have a classic and they don't mess with it. The toughest choice for a buyer is choosing between the 330 model or 360. And basically that choice comes down to looks.


  5. Fearnot

    Fearnot Friend of Leo's

    Jan 17, 2010
    Decatur, GA
    I've never bonded with the Hi-Gains... the last set I had ohm'd out at over 10k! Hotter than any of my humbuckers. No wonder I had to run it through an EQ to approximate the 'Ric Sound' I got so easily with my '66 330. And a set of Ric Toasters will set you back close to $300. Ouch!

  6. VWAmTele

    VWAmTele Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    I never really bonded with the high-gains either on my 360-12 - but they were okay. My problem was I had two die after a years use - very unusual. I sent it off to a well known tech in Washington state to check it out. It turns out there's a flaw in the type screw RIC uses to solder the initial coil wire, and while I was still unlucky to have two go in a year, they are prone to breaking.

    He replaced the screw with what they used to use (I think brass) and rewound the pickups to about 7k and 6k. What a difference. He also replaced the useless Ric-O-Sound with two mono jacks, one wired with a .0047 vintage crisp cap that gives it a real 60's sound. Also replaced the nut with one differently spaced to spread the strings pairs out - much easier to play.

  7. mefgames

    mefgames Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 31, 2010
    North Bay, Ca
    I bought a new Ric 360/12 Fireglo about 10 years ago after 30 years of talking about someday. The guitar is everything I wanted. The problem I ran into is, as stated in previous threads, the neck is too small, specifically at the nut. I am primarily a bass player with very large hands. This was the model I wanted and remembered from my old playing days, so even though the 660 has a wider neck, I still would have bought the 360. Very fond memories of the Ric sound and that look. It would take quite a bit for me to let it go even though it doesn't get played much. That said, if you plan on playing it a lot, try out the different models before you buy one.

    Good Luck, Mike

    Attached Files:

  8. telebuc

    telebuc Tele-Meister

    Aug 20, 2010
    I don't have small hands, and I have no problem with my 330's neck. Is it different? Slightly - but not a problem. On a six string, the high gains are fine, but for a twelve, it needs to be the toasters.


  9. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Awesome, awesome, awesome info here gents. Thank you very much.

    I'm not into the solid bodies at all. Gonna do some diggin' here in Toronto next week. See if I can find a couple to play. There's a recent 330 Jetglo on Toronto Craigslist for $1300. Thinking I could get out of there at $1100. Unfortunately it's got dot inlays instead of shark fin. But not a big deal...

  10. john kleeman

    john kleeman Tele-Holic

    Jun 16, 2010
    Portland, Or.
    I had a 360. I remember the body width being unwieldy when sitting down.and the neck being skinny at the nut. If that isn't a bother, they are versitile, great sounding, stylin' axes. Good luck!

  11. DrumBob

    DrumBob -------------------------

    Jul 23, 2009
    Highland Lakes, NJ
    Ricks have not changed all that much over the years. I'm a dyed-in-wool Rick player (see my avatar), and the guitars have always fascinated me, probably because some of my early guitar heroes (McGuinn, Townshend & Harrison) played them, and they were so prevalent in the 60's. I love their style, look, and vibe. I've even learned to live with the quirks. They're more like fine violins than guitars, and there's really nothing else like them anywhere. Some people have tried to copy Rickenbacker's designs, but none have really done it right.

    The quirks: quite a few. The 12-strings use 6-saddle bridges, and it's impossible to really intonate them correctly. Rick sells 12-saddle bridges as an add-on. The bottom E strings always sound a bit sharp at the third fret for some reason. The necks on all but the 660 series are narrow. The necks were getting chunky for a while, but they've gone back to the thinner style. The toaster pickups are terribly expensive to buy from Rickenbacker, and they only make them in small batches. I bought mine for $100, but the price has gone way up. I live with all the inconsistencies, because I love the sound of my 330-12.

    I know the president of the company, John Hall, a very astute businessman and all-around smart guy. John told me he will never have an offshore, lower priced Rick line, as he takes great pride in being a totally American guitar company. He loves the little inconsistencies of the guitars, claiming that hundreds of great records have been made with those guitars, and they sounded great. That's true. It's Rickenbacker's quirks that contribute to its mystique.

    Rickenbacker is a much smaller company than most people realize. They're not huge like Gibson or Fender, but a relatively small shop in Santa Ana, CA. They literally sell every guitar they make, and are backed up on orders as long as 18 months. Best to buy one in stock or used, instead of waiting that long!

    And yes, you can play hard rock on a Rickenbacker 6-string. They're not just for jangle rock. Kick in some distortion and those Hi Gains grind. They're loud pickups. The toasters-which I prefer-are more airy, with less output. They're great on my 12-string.

    I'm due for another Rick 6-string soon. Probably a 360.

  12. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's

    I have an issue with narrow necks, so though I've owned a couple of 360-12s, I could never bond with them. I now have a 660-12, which has a 1.75" wide neck, which is exactly right for a 12-string. It's a solidbody with toaster pickups. The 360s being hollow sound a little richer, but the tradeoff for the useable neck on the 660 is well worth it.

  13. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    The nut on Ric 12-strings can be replaced to provide better string pair separation. My 360/12 is about 7 years old and soon after I bought it, Ric actually came out with a better-spaced nut. Replacing a Ric nut is simplicity in itself; the old one just pops off and the new one goes in with a tiny dab of Titebond. Here's the old nut in between two new ones to show the difference...


    Ric 12 strings from the last 6 or 7 years also have their slots routed all the way through their headstocks, which makes them a little easier to restring. Here's mine...


    I have large hands and could only just get by with the old nut; although you do learn to adapt playing some chords with one finger holding down 2 strings. The new nut however makes a big difference.

  14. Crawfish

    Crawfish Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 21, 2008
    Maryland, USA
    The 330 has no body or neck binding and the plain dot inlays. The 360 has the binding and the triangular inlays. And the rounded top edge.

  15. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    The comments before have said most everything- I think the toasters are better on 12 strings, but I prefer the high gain pickups on a 6.

    The neck shape is different, but I like it, I find I play things differently on the Rick than my other guitars, which makes it interesting. If all my guitars felt the same, my playing wouldn't change as much...

    Definitely play a few, and if possible try the pickups through the amp you like to use.

  16. mefgames

    mefgames Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 31, 2010
    North Bay, Ca
    I'm in, where can I get one of these ?

  17. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    At Rickenbacker's website for $

  18. mefgames

    mefgames Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 31, 2010
    North Bay, Ca
    Great, thanks for the info. $ 9 for the nut, $ 11.88 for shipping ? and that's before tax. I really don't want to cut my own, but man, that shipping is a bit high. $ 4 or $ 5 I can see, but $ 11.88…….

    Must be mostly handling…...

  19. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Buy some strings too?

    The "better" Ric dealers probably also have them. Try Pick of the Ricks.

  20. vibrasonic

    vibrasonic Tele-Afflicted

    I broke a truss rod cover on my 2 weeks old 360-12 awhile back and they charged me $50 plus shipping for a replacement plus I had to ship the broken one back to them before they would send the new one to me.

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