Vintage Vault: 1967 Rickenbacker 366/12 Convertible
Discover how this 1967 Rickenbacker 366/12 can morph from a 12-string to a 6-string with the flick of a handle.
A publicity photo of the converter’s inventor, James (Jimmy) Gross, who performed on double-neck banjos and included robots in his stage show.
The flattop 12-string guitar was a foundation of the folk music movement of the early ’60s, and this inspired Rickenbacker to design and manufacture 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 of the Beatles.
Musician and inventor James E. Gross was intrigued by the electric 12-string and decided to put his imagination to work on improving it. Born in 1931 in Lafayette, Indiana, Gross began playing music professionally at a very young age. He was distinguished as a performer and bandleader in the Chicago area for many years, and was known for playing unique double-neck banjos and combining comedy with exploding light shows and robots.
In 1966 Gross approached Rickenbacker’s owner F.C. Hall with his practical, easy-to-install converter device. This “converter comb” could turn a 12-string into a 6-string (or any number in between). When the converter was engaged, it pulled strings down away from the player’s right hand, leaving only the desired number of strings to be picked. Gross demonstrated the converter at the July 1966 NAMM show. A licensing agreement was signed in August, and the guitars went into production by winter.
The models produced were the 336/12, 366/12, and 456/12. The original Rickenbacker advertisement copy read: “Now, one instrument—the most versatile guitar ever made—ends the need for carrying extra guitars. By means of an exclusive, patented converter on the brilliant Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, any combination of strings can be played.”
The 1967 366/12 pictured here was James Gross’ personal guitar. It has most of the features associated with classic Deluxe Rickenbacker models of the ’60s. These include a bound maple neck, a 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 an “R” tailpiece.
This example is finished in Rickenbacker’s most popular color, Fireglo. The main differences between it and a regular 360/12 are the chrome converter comb and the extra pickguard under it, which extends below all 12 strings. The 1966 list price was $579.50. The current value for one in excellent all-original condition is $4,500.
The 366/12 rests against a late-’60s Rickenbacker Transonic TS100 amp. The Transonic’s current value is $1,000.
Sources for this article include Tony Bacon’s Rickenbacker Electric 12-String and The History of Rickenbacker Guitars by Richard R. Smith.
A very special thanks to Cody Appel for acquiring the guitar and original paperwork from James Gross’ wife Peggy.
Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Les Paul Desert Burst Satin
Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed
Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain
Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater
Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System
Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface
Apogee BOOM 2x2 Audio Interface
Railhammer Reveals New Billy Corgan Z-One Pickups
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Mono Releases the M80 Vertigo Ultra Case
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
MONO Vertigo Ultra Electric Bass Gig Bag - Black
For more information, please visit monocreators.com.
Mojotone Announces Exclusive Partnership with Fender
Mojotone will manufacture and market over 60 of their speaker cabinets and amp kits as “Licensed by Fender.”
This partnership marks Fender's recognition of Mojotone’s dedication to its craft, quality of products, and dependability of knowledge. Beginning November 29th and ranging from $327 - $1,016.
Amplifiers were among the first products to wear the official Fender seal. A qualified electronics technician by trade, Leo Fender developed his iconic amplifiers during the mid-1940s putting innovation at the forefront. To this day, Leo’s influence and innovative spirit can still be heard in today’s amps, as that same iconic, clean Fender tone continues to color new music around the world. As a result, the process for completing the exclusive licensing deal required Fender to carefully audit Mojotone’s amplifier kits, wiring diagrams, electronics, hardware, construction methods, and more to ensure this innovation carried on through the partnership. Mojotone’s many years of intense research, quality production, and favorable reputation solidified the deal.
Mojotone has always been determined to provide its customer base with the most sought-after parts with their insider industry-knowledge. They have spent the last 25 years helping musicians recreate what they deem to be the most famous and easily-recognized tones and aesthetics in the music industry. When purchasing Mojotone products, like Fender products, customers can be assured of unmatched quality and craftsmanship.
For more information, please visit mojotone.com.