This stunning fireglo 1968 Rickenbacker 360/12 features
a semi-hollow maple body with a single slash soundhole
and a pair of “toaster” single-coils.
In the 1920s, Adolph Rickenbacker began
a successful tool-and-die business in Los
Angeles, and eventually his outfit began
providing metal parts for various guitar
companies, including National. Together
with two former National employees—George Beauchamp and Paul Barth—Rickenbacker designed and marketed the
first “Frying Pan” electrified lap-steel guitar.
F.C. Hall, owner of Radio & Television
Equipment Co. (Radio-Tel) purchased
the Electro String Company from Adolph
Rickenbacker in 1953. Hall revamped the
business and focused on electric standard guitars,
rather than steels. These electric guitars
were slow sellers at first, but they continued
to increase in popularity as the 1950s progressed.
In early 1954, German guitar maker
Roger Rossmeisl was hired, and his unique
“old world” designs gave Rickenbacker guitars
a distinctive look that continues today.
The folk music trend of the early ’60s
and its reliance on flattop 12-string guitars
inspired Rickenbacker to fashion an electric
12-string in 1963. Although other companies
(notably Gibson and Danelectro) had made
earlier attempts, the Rickenbacker 12-string
electric became the most sought-after because
of its association with George Harrison. (He
received the second one made in early 1964.)
The 1968 360/12 pictured here has the
features most often associated with classic
Deluxe Rickenbacker models of the ’60s.
These include a bound maple neck, gloss
finished rosewood fretboard with large triangle-
shaped inlays, two “toaster” single-coil
pickups, a maple body with checkerboard
binding on the back, a slash soundhole, and
a distinctive “R” tailpiece.
Rickenbacker’s innovative tuner arrangement allows
for a smaller headstock and also reduces tuning confusion—tuners for the six standard strings are
mounted on the side of the headstock, while the tuners for the octave and doubled top strings are
mounted on the back. RIGHT: The rear-mounted tuners for the doubled top and octave strings.
This example has a deep, unfaded
version of Rickenbacker’s most popular
color—fireglo. The 1966 list price was
$524.50. The current value for one in
excellent all-original condition is $5,000.
The exact model name of the amp behind
the guitar is unknown to us. It resembles the
description in the 1957 Rickenbacker catalog
of a Model M-11A. It is equipped with tremolo
and a Jensen 12" speaker dating to 1968.
The current value for the amp is $400.
LEFT: Rickenbacker’s distinctive tailpiece. RIGHT: The maple back sports checkerboard binding.
Sources for this article include
Rickenbacker Electric 12-String: The Story of
the Guitars, the Music, and the Great Players
by Tony Bacon, Rickenbacker by Richard
R. Smith, and The Rickenbacker Book: A
Complete History of Rickenbacker Electric
by Tony Bacon and Paul Day. If
you’re into chimey 12-string sounds, you’ll
enjoy exploring any of these well-researched,
lavishly illustrated books.
Dave’s Guitar Shop
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended
by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally
and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text