1963 Rickenbacker 360/12

In mid-1963, Rickenbacker produced their very first electric 12-string “prototype” guitar. The 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12 presented in our collection is that actual guitar! 
Rickenbacker originally sold this prototype 12-string, which we affectionately refer to as “#1”, to Las Vegas performer, Suzi Arden, to determine the feasibility of adding such a model to their line up. 
Later in 1963, Rickenbacker became aware of an impending visit to the U.S. by the Beatles. The Beatles were fast gaining worldwide notoriety and were coming to the US in early February 1964 to perform on the nationally televised Ed Sullivan Show in New York. 
Two of the Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, had been photographed playing Rickenbacker 6 string models. A meeting was arranged for Rickenbacker to showcase some of their guitar models to the Beatles during their visit. 
In an astute move, one of the guitars that Rickenbacker decided to show them was the second 1963 “prototype” 360/12 model they had just recently completed.
The 2nd 12-string guitar differed cosmetically from #1 by its white, rather than gold, nameplate and pick guards. It also had smaller black knobs, rather than larger "Oven" style ones, and a lighter colored fingerboard. Functionally, the second prototype had dual “Mono” output, while #1 had “Rick-O-Sound” stereo output.
One other interesting change that Rickenbacker made on the 2nd 360/12 given to Harrison was to string it with a reversed octave-string configuration. This means the low string was in front of the high octave string, whereas #1 originally had the traditional stringing of acoustic 12-strings used in folk music, with the high octave string in front of the low string.
This new stringing method on the 2nd 360/12 seemed to produce a stronger melody and "jangle" and became the standard method that every 12 string Rickenbacker has since employed. It is often referred to as "Rickenbacker stringing". 
The 2nd 1963 360/12 is the one that ended up in the hands of George Harrison and the rest is history!
Although it's distinctive sound can be clearly heard in the famous opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night", the band also featured the new Rickenbacker "jangle" on many of their 1964 recordings. Harrison even played his 1963 Rick 360/12 as the main guitar during a number of their 1964 and 1965 live performances.
The movie going public saw the 2nd 360/12 featured prominently in The Beatles first motion picture, A Hard Day's Night. The sound of Harrison’s 12-string guitar sent many bands, such as The Byrds, in search of a Rickenbacker 12-string. 
We are very pleased to present "#1", the original prototype 360/12 and one of the only two 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12's ever made. As our tribute to George Harrison, we have chosen to present #1 in the same configuration as Harrison's. Accordingly, it is outfitted with a custom white nameplate and pick guards, vintage small black knobs and a vintage trapeze tailpiece (just as it had originally left the factory same as Harrison's; the original owner of #1 had modified the guitar and installed the "R" style tail piece a year or so after acquiring it). The custom plexi has been crafted to precise 1963 specs by noted luthier, William Young.
After taking possession of #1, the guitar was professionally cleaned and detailed as it had been clearly neglected and not maintained in any way. Sadly, it was not even in a playable state. During this careful maintenance process it was noted that the original "nut" had deteriorated. When the decades old strings were removed, the nut fell right off, as it was not glued on. Apparently, just string tension had kept the nut in place all these years.
As each instrument in our collection is "studio quality" ready, a decision was made to install a new nut (also left unglued) and preserve the original one so that it would not deteriorate any further. Since our collection is focused on the guitars as used by the Beatles, it was decided to have the new nut set up with the "Rickenbacker stringing" method just like Harrison's 1963 360/12. 
Some vintage guitar collectors and Rickenbacker enthusiasts may see these cosmetic changes as controversial. Please be assured that our goal is not to change the history of #1 in any way. Rather, our goal is to celebrate this wonderful guitar and bring it to the attention of the general public. ALL of the original parts that are currently swapped out have been carefully preserved and stored. 
Although we may have taken a little artistic license, in the context of a Harrison and Beatles display, due to the significant historic value of #1, these cosmetic modifications were only allowed because they are non-invasive and very easily reversible. The important thing is that now #1 is able to make beautiful music once again. Should it ever become desirable, anytime in the future, all the original parts and nut can be easily put back on.1958_325.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0
This photograph taken by Rickenbacker captures "#1", their first ever 12-string in its original factory configuration. Note the gold nameplate and pick guards, larger "Oven" style knobs, a "Trapeze" tailpiece and a traditional “folk style” stringing method.
This 15-year-old photograph, taken by second owner Oyama Katsayuki, shows "#1" with its "R" style tailpiece. This modification was done by the factory sometime in late '64/early '65 upon request from the guitars first owner, Las Vegas performer Suzi Arden. Evidently, Arden preferred the "modern" look of the new "R" style tailpiece.
Unfortunately, this was an invasive modification that resulted in the drilling of 3 new holes because the footprint of the brackets holding the two tailpieces on was different.
When a vintage "Trapeze" tailpiece was restored back on #1, the original "Trapeze" bracket holes were used! Although the "R" bracket holes from the modification are still on the guitar, luckily the Trapeze bracket covers them up. This photograph also shows the crack on the lower pick guard.
On stage in 1964, George Harrison rocks on with his 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12. This iconic guitar is the second 360 style 12-string that Rickenbacker produced.

TheBeatlesGear.com is not endorsed or affiliated with The Beatles or Apple Corps. Ltd.


Images and Text from this website may not be reproduced without prior written approval.

HOME

1950s | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970