There is no denying Rickenbacker’s status as one of the four or five most important electric guitar companies of all time and here we explore their beginnings and influence on guitardom.
Tom Petty's signature 660/12TP was one of the most anticipated Rickenbacker signature models. But features that Petty himself requested, including a gold pickguard and nameplate, checkerboard binding, and, most importantly, wider string spacing, proved so popular that they inspired a new model, the 660/12, that's still in the Rickenbacker line to this day.
There is no denying Rickenbacker’s status as one of the four or five most important electric guitar companies of all time. Still, for all the company’s iconic status, they are sometimes perceived as misfits within the pantheon. While the Stratocaster and Les Paul cemented Fender’s and Gibson’s reputations as the first choice for legendary lead-guitar hotshots and gunslingers, Rickenbacker remains, in the eyes of many players, a strummer’s guitar—fit for rhythm kings and ill-suited for lead aces.
It’s a much-too-simple generalization that diminishes not only the versatility of Rickenbacker guitars themselves, but also the groundbreaking achievements of the guitarists who have played them over the years. In a September 2010 interview with Premier Guitar, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach praised their smooth playability and build quality. “You can do anything with a Rickenbacker,” he said. “Anything!”
And anyone who has witnessed Mike Campbell rip a Peter Green-style lead, beheld Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto driving a raging, off-kilter punk rhythm, or thrilled to Paul Weller slashing at a bellowing Marshall with a Rick in hand can attest to the veracity of Auerbach’s assertion.
Then there are the things only a Rick can do: Roger McGuinn’s celestial 12-string excursions, Townshend’s ringing dots-and-dashes power chords, Johnny Marr’s complex dancing-and-darting arpeggio intros. Sure, other guitars might get you 80 to 90 percent there. But there is something about the way materials, construction, electronics, balance, and feel conspire in a Rickenbacker that is singular, wholly original, and nearly impossible to reproduce.
It begins, perhaps, with the way Rickenbackers feel in hand. There’s an almost acoustic-guitar-like tension that invites you to simultaneously dig in, attack, or get delicate. But there is also an incredible smoothness—the slickness of low frets, lacquered fretboards, and low action—that invites bends, quick and aggressive arpeggios, hammer-ons, and legato flurries. Then there are the pickups. The toaster tops chime with pure crystalline beauty and ring in perfect, succinct harmonic balance for rhythm work, and the modern, high-gain single-coils veer from bell-like zing to highhorsepower kerrang in a manner quite unlike any other pickup.
And those are just the musical strengths of a Rickenbacker. But many discovered all this after being drawn to how Rickenbackers look. The guitars display a perfect synthesis of classic Bavarian/ European design motifs and Jet Age Californiaisms, and it’s a look that’s unmistakable even from a hundred yards away. Flash mod symbol, punk jackhammer, herald of the British Invasion, and blonde avatar of bangs-and-suede psychedelia from the West Coast—the Rickenbacker sweeping-crescent profile is each of these and more.
Here we’ve collected a few rare images from Rickenbacker’s archive, most never before published, to celebrate the company’s 80th anniversary (also be sure to check out our video tour of the Rickenbacker factory at premierguitar.com).
In a way, it’s refreshing to see how little has changed over the years. Many of these legendary shapes still roll out of the Santa Ana, California, factory looking much like the very first specimens of their breed—and each is still built as they always have been, entirely in the USA.
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.
The Cream Amp is a handmade low-gain overdrive pedal based on the Electra Distortion circuit.
The Cream Amp was designed to deliver full dynamics amp-like dirt to your clean and crunch amp or to another pedal in the chain without altering your tone too much. To add some grit at low volume or to make your amp sound more full, use the Drive control to set the gain and the Level control to match with your amp.
- Two knobs to control Volume and Drive
- Shielded inputs/outputs to avoid RF
- Filtered and protected 9VDC input
- Daisy-chain friendly
- Current draw: 7.5mA
The Cream Amp pedal is hand-made in Barcelona with carefully selected components and has a price of 100.00€. The pedals are available and can be purchased directly from the Ananasheadonline store.
For more information, please visit ananashead.com.
The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment.
Introducing the Red Sea, an all-analog signal routing matrix, designed for countless stereo and mono signal path routing options. The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment. The Red Sea has accomplished this in a compact, easy-to-use, and cost-effective solution.
Wet | Dry | Wet
The Red Sea gives you the ability to run a FULL Stereo wet dry wet rig using only 2 amps or just 2 signals to the FOH, while also giving you complete control over your Wet & Dry mix! Use the Blend knob to control the overall mix between stereo wet effects and mono dry/drive signals.
Stereo Dual Amps
Run dual amp modelers if full stereo w/ stereo effects. Gone are the traditional ways of one amp in the Left channel and another in the Right channel. Now use the Red Sea to seamlessly blend between two separate amps in true stereo. Think of this as a 2-channel amp where you can blend anywhere between both amps.
Stereo Parallel FX
Red Sea has two independent stereo FX loops. Use each FX loop to run stereo delay's and reverb's in parallel, where each effect does not interact with each other. Huge soundscapes can be achieved with washy reverbs and articulate delay repeats while being able to blend between each FX loops mix level.
The Red Sea can also do the following routing options:
- Wet | Dry utilizing a single amp
- Clean Wet | Dry | Wet (drives DO NOT run into wet effects)
- Wet | Dry | Wet with dual delays (one in the L channel & other in R channel)
- Parallel Dual Amps (run dual amp modelers in FULL stereo)
- Convert a tube amp's serial FX Loop to a parallel FX Loop
- Stereo and Mono analog dry through (avoid latency in digital pedals)
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct amplifier models.
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct maxed-out amplifier models. An all-analog signal path with discrete gain stages featuring MOSFET transistors provides juicy overdrive tones with great note separation that clean up to that sparkly sound that we all love and heard in recordings of the past. Set gain and tone and control everything from your guitar. Sparkly clean to crunchy mean are all there.
You can select the amplifier voicing via the onboard toggle switch.
BSM: Voiced after a blackface amp head that was primarily targeted for bass guitar players but got famous for electric guitar classic rock tones.
VLX: Voiced after a chimey 2x10” combo offering the perfect amount of controllable crunch
DLX: Voiced after one of the most popular low wattage 1×12″ combo amps that have found their way in countless recording studios and clubs around the world.
Stardust V3 now comes with top-mounted jacks and soft-click true bypass via a high-quality relay. The pedal has loads of output volume and enhanced headroom provided by 18V DC (boosted internally) so that it can also be used as a preamp going straight into your Power Amp or AudioInterface when combined with a separate speaker simulation device.
Street price: 199 Euro / 199 USD.
For more information, please visit crazytubecircuits.com.