Rickenbacker Guitars: Rock'n'Roll's Most Desirable Instruments?


Here's a look at Rickenbacker's history, famous players and the models PMT currently has IN STOCK.


It all began with a frying pan...

Yes, there's no way around this fact: Rickenbacker guitars ain't cheap! But there's one reason why, for over eight decades, the brand has been at the top of their game, making some of the most desirable guitars available: Rickenbackers sound truly special, look unique, and are perfect for the guitarists who demand only the best.

If there's one thing no-one else can claim but Rickenbacker, is that they are responsible for the first ever electric guitar: the famous "Frying Pan" model, made in 1931.

Rickenbacker Frying Pan

The 'Frying Pan' (pictured above) wasn't much of a looker like the later Rickenbacker models, and was a lap steel guitar designed for Hawaiian music, but still, its invention was an essential evolution for the development of Rock'n'Roll: the magnetic pickups allowed the instrument to be plugged to an amplifier to produce a louder sound, and its popularity made sure guitars would become an important lead instrument in popular music. Also, it's good to mention an early user was a certain guitarist called Les Paul...

However, fast forward two decades and Rickenbacker had seemingly missed the boat called "Rock'n'Roll", while Fender became a major brand. But it all changed when they created the first Capri-series guitar, in 1958: the Rickenbacker 325, which would soon be played by the biggest band in the world, ever!

The 60's Rick-Volution

Beatles Rickenbacker

The Rickenbacker 325 became John Lennon's favourite guitar in the early years of The Beatles, and can be heard on most songs from the 1962-1964 period. This model still exists in the form of the 325 C4 Miami model, and as an upgraded version called the Rickenbacker 350 Liverpool.

George Harrison, despite mostly using other guitars, also made Rickenbacker history, by using a Rickenbacker 360 12-string guitar on several classic recordings.


George was responsible for one of the most legendary Rickenbacker "moments" ever, 'A Hard Day's Night':

George opens the song with a single Rickenbacker chord, and the classic guitar solo could only sound like it does because of that Rickenbacker 12-string. It's an unmistakable sound... Indeed, this particular Beatles song is the reason many guitarists decided to buy a Rickenbacker.

After the Beatles, Rickenbacker's reputation soared, and some of the best and most influential bands of the sixties and seventies went on to play a "Rick": The Who, The Byrds, Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater Revival and others.

pete townshend rick

No other band - apart from The Beatles - became so closely associated with the "Rickenbacker sound" as The Byrds. Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker 370 12-string guitar is all over some of the band's most iconic records, such as Mr. Tambourine Man:

Rickenbacker in the 70's & Beyond

The seventies where the decade of prog rock and classic heavy rock - no famous band seemed to be playing Rickenbackers electric guitars any more. They were, after all, supposed to be the go-to guitars for psychedelic, jangly music. But before the decade was over, one of the most important bands to come out of the punk scene came to its rescue: Paul Weller would use a Rickenbacker 330 as his main instrument in The Jam.


Coincidence or not, after The Jam more acts started to be seen playing a Rickenbacker, and there are plenty of 80's and 90's bands who've used one: U2, The Smiths, R.E.M., Oasis, Boo Radleys, Radiohead, Ride, Lush and even Sleater-Kinney:

Rickenbacker Guitars Today

Rickenbackers are still very popular, and here at PMT you'll find the full range of Rickenbacker guitars. Many top artists have been using Ricks in recent years, from Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield to Pete Doherty, from Courtney Love to newer acts such as Kasabian and up-and-coming psych Aussies Tame Impala.

A Word About Rickenbacker Bass Guitars

Rickenbacker basses have a unique sound and feel, with much narrower necks than Fender bass guitars, and a wide range of sounds. Some early users include Paul McCartney in The Beatles and Roger Waters in Pink Floyd.

Paul McCartney Rickenbacker (1) copy-horz

Unlike Rickenbacker guitars in the sixties, Rickenbacker bass guitars have never been attached to one particular type of music, so they've always remained popular, and in the seventies heavy acts used them as well... after all, Lemmy from Motorhead is as recognisable for his customized Rickenbacker bass on-stage as he is for his moustache or wart!


Punk bands such as Sex Pistols and The Jam would feature Rickenbacker-playing bassists, too, and indeed the classic Rickenbacker 4001 bass remains one of the most iconic and desirable instruments today (currently, the Rickenbacker 4003 and 4003S are the available models - upgraded versions of the 4001.)

The updated 4003S version comes with the improved dual trussrod system and of course the famous solid bass tones, ringing sustain and treble punch Rickenbacker are known for. This design was once exclusive to the British distributor Rose Morris in the sixties. All instruments come with mono output, as well as standard Model 4003 single coil pickups, keywinds and pickguards.