This Cozart copy of a Rickenbacker has the right look: a blonde maple body, a set neck, triangle fretboard markers, mini humbuckers, and a split-level pickguard.
I’ve owned many guitars, but I’ve never been able to hold onto a Rickenbacker. Sure, I’ve bought a few, but I’ve never bonded with them enough to keep one. However, I’m a fan of their look. I really dig their size, shape, and fretboard markers, among other things. And, of course, there’s that Beatles connection.
A while back, though, I spotted this Cozart on eBay and really liked its appearance. It features a beautiful blonde maple body, a set neck, triangle fretboard markers, mini humbuckers, a split-level pickguard, and an almost laughable truss rod cover that reads “Rickencopy.” I kept an eye on the auction and ended up buying it for $161 including shipping. I’m pretty familiar with Cozart guitars and figured it would be kinda fun to have this one.
This might be the nerviest and funniest truss rod cover ever—although the name “Rickencopy” is likely an added touch provided by a previous owner.
It arrived about a week later, and I was immediately taken with its workmanship. Cozart has a spotty reputation with me. Some of their guitars seem to be made great, while others, well, kinda suck. This is one of the best Cozarts I’ve encountered. It played great right out of the box: nice low action, good intonation, an adjustable truss rod, and a neck with no buzzing. It’s also a fairly light 6.5 pounds.
The neck mini humbucker sounded pretty good, but the bridge pickup was weak and weenie sounding. I’ve had some other Cozarts that suffered the same affliction. Bridge pickups need to be more robust and wound hotter in order to sound balanced with neck pickups. But hey, this is why Cozarts are so cheap and reside in Bottom Feeder territory.
The controls set is simple: two volume dials, two tone controls, and a pickup selector switch in service of a Warman neck pickup and a bridge-position Kent Armstrong our columnist got on eBay for $21.
So, I looked on eBay and found a Kent Armstrong mini humbucker for $21 with shipping. It was my first experience with Armstrong pickups, and I thought it sounded much better than what I had originally. Sure, I could have sprung for a more expensive Gibson or Seymour Duncan pickup, but here’s Bottom Feeder Tip #298: You never get your money back when you start sinking dollars into a cheap guitar. Of course, you can get some of your money back when you sell, but, at the end of the day, it’s still a cheap guitar. Also, there’s no sense keeping even a cheap guitar if you can’t get it to sound good. So the trick is to fix it up enough that it sounds good to you. Later, if you really fall in love with it, you can spend more to improve it. But again, you’ll probably never get all your money back when you sell.
Despite its quirky customizations, the pristine finish on the back of this imitator begs the question: Did its previous owner ever even play it?
So, is it a keeper? Yeah, I’d say for now it is. It sounds good for blues, jazz, and country. Check out my MP3 online and you can get a sense of that. And who knows? One day a Rickencopy might be collectable. Stranger things have happened!