acquired his first 12-string guitar in 1964, while on tour
with the Beatles in the US. The guitar was presented to
him by Francis Hall, then owner and president of the Rickenbacker
Hall had tracked down the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein,
before they arrived in the US and was able to set up a meeting
with them. On February 7, at the Savoy Hilton in New York,
he showed the Beatles a selection of guitars and amplifiers.
John must have liked the 12-string model, because he asked
Hall to show it to Harrison, who was sick in bed. Harrison
later said he liked it straight away.
The 360-12 model that George acquired, made in 1963, was
one of the first electric 12-strings made by Rickenbacker.
The big, ringing sound that characterizes the 12-string
would soon shape the sound on many Beatles recordings, particularly
on the A Hard Day's Night album. It was described in the
press at the time as "the beat boys' secret weapon."
At the time, the retail price in the US would have been
$550 or around $3,800 in today's money. Harrison's Estate
still owns the guitar today.
George acquired his second Rickenbacker 360-12, identical
to the replica photographed above, during the group's '65
US tour. The 1965-model was given to him at a press conference
in Minneapolis, Minnesota. George later used the guitar
on the recording of "If I Needed Someone," using a capo
on the seventh fret.
Rickenbacker 360 guitars
325 (1964 model)
John Lennon's second Rickenbacker 325 guitar. It was sent
to him while on the first US tour with the Beatles. The
guitar was made specially for him by Rickenbacker and sent
directly from the guitar-maker's factory in California to
the hotel in Miami where the Beatles were staying. It was
a replacement for his road-weary 1958-model.
The 1964-model was similar to John's first 325 guitar, but
with a thinner body, an extra "balance" knob and an Accent
vibrato. It was also slightly smaller than the earlier guitar.
The retail price then was $399.50 or around $2,750 in today's
Lennon used the guitar on the Beatles' second appearance
on the Ed Sullivan Show. An estimated 70 million viewers
tuned in to watch the show on February 16 1964.
The 1964 model of Rickenbacker 325 became Lennon's favourite
studio and stage guitar throughout 1964 and 1965. It is
owned today by Yoko Ono.
The guitar photographed above is a replica of John's second
Rickenbacker 325 guitars
Rickenbacker 325 (1958 model)
The Rickenbacker 325 was John's first "proper" guitar,
in the sense that it was his first high-quality, US-made musical
instrument. Lennon had been playing a German-made Hofner Club
40 before he acquired the Rickenbacker.
The young Lennon bought the 325 model from a shop in Hamburg,
Germany in 1960. The Beatles were staying there in their pre-fame
days while performing regularly at the Indra and Kaiserkeller
It is not known how much Lennon paid for his first Rickenbacker.
In the US, the retail price would have been $269.50 or around
$1,900 in today's money. Lennon, however, bought the guitar
on credit payments.
Years later, George Harrison recalled:
"You have to imagine that that in those days, when we were
first out of Liverpool, any good American guitar looked sensational
to us. We only had beat up, crummy guitars at that stage.
We still didn't really have the money to buy them, but I remember
that John got that Rickenbacker… what they call 'on the knocker',
you know? [Money] down and the rest when they catch you. I
don't know if he ever really paid them off."
The Rickenbacker Lennon acquired was manufactured in 1958.
Rickenbacker's production records indicate that only 28 examples
of the 325 model were made in that first year of production.
Twenty were in sunburst finish and just eight in natural like
Lennon's. Furthermore, unlike most of the other 325s produced
in 1958, Lennon's guitar had no f-hole in the body.
The Rickenacker 325 model was not embraced by guitar buyers
at the time. However a few years later, thanks to the success
of the Beatles, it became one of the company's most popular
Lennon always spoke highly of the 325 in later interviews,
and once said it was among his most valued possessions. Lennon
also used the guitar, then black-painted, during the legendary
Ed Sullivan TV-show performance in 1964.
Today, the guitar is owned by Yoko Ono. The Rickenbacker 325,
in its original finish, would have looked identical to the
reproduction pictured above.
for Rickenbacker guitars.
4001S bass guitar
Paul McCartney was first introduced to the Rickenbacker 4001
bass guitar during the Beatles' US tour in 1964. It had been
made left-handed specially for him. The bass guitar was presented
to him by Francis Hall, then owner the Rickenbacker company,
at the Savoy Hilton in New York along with a selection of
guitars and amplifiers. (See also Rickenbacker
360-12). For some reason, McCartney refused to take the
Rickenbacker 4001S on this occasion.
On the band's US visit in 1965 however, Hall once again showed
McCartney the instrument. This time the Beatle accepted it
without hesitation. This particular bass guitar was one of
the first left-handed basses Rickenbacker ever made. It was
probably produced in early 1964.
Paul McCartney used his new Rickenbacker 4001S almost exclusively
on the Rubber Soul sessions. He also continued to use the
instrument on later recordings, including classics such as
Tomorrow Never Knows, A Day In The Life, Lovely Rita, With
A Little Help From My Friends, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
and I Am The Walrus. He still owns the bass today.