Dating your rickenbacker

The arrival of Jimi Hendrix and the advent of blues-based rock spelled the end of the line for the jangly pop sound of the Sixties.Heavier sounds required new gear and so Rickenbackers and amplifiers such as Vox AC-30s were cast aside in favour of Gibson Les Pauls and Marshall Stacks - until they became as much part of The Jam's image as the spray-paint logo, bowling shoes and target insignia.Roger Mc Guinn of The Byrds cites George Harrison's use of a Ric 360-12 as the reason he abandoned his acoustic in favour of a Rickenbacker 12-string - in the process giving birth to the folk/rock movement.

By the mid-1960s, Rickenbacker was in the enviable position of having its instruments in the hands of all three of the guitar-playing Beatles.

Lennon's three-quarter-sized model 325 was bought in Hamburg in 1960, while Mc Cartney acquired his left-handed 4001S bass (later used on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) in 1965.

In the wake of Weller, Rickenbackers enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s, when Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles), Peter Buck (REM) and Tom Petty began using them.

More recently, Rickenbackers have reappeared in the hands of musicians in some of the most credible bands around, including Pete Doherty and Carl Barât when they were in The Libertines, Bob Hardy, the Franz Ferdinand bassist, and Chris Urbanowicz of the Editors.

Answer: Rather than have the coils wound perfectly uniformly, i.e. The six individual magnets don't act as polepieces per se, but exist only to provide the magnetic field to the whole width of the assembly.

row by row and layer by layer, the computer controlled coil winder was given a random sequence, just as someone would imperfectly wind a pickup by hand. It could be made with one big magnet, or 8 or 12 little ones, but this configuration seems to have worked quite nicely since the 1960's.

The possibilities opened up by this feature for hot rodding are pretty wide ranging, including coil splitting, phase reversal, active-differential circuits (like we did on the John Kay model), and so forth.

Few other humbuckers offer this convenience and make you disassemble the pickup to get to the various leads. Unfortunately, if you leave the wiring harness intact with its daisy chain ground, and then also short out the pot and switch shell with the tape, you'll have a wonderful ground loop, likely to make the problem worse than better.

One of the all-time great American guitar brands, Rickenbacker is still making their famed guitars and basses one at a time, using old-school craftsmanship and tradition.


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