Reader Guitar of the Month: Not a Ric

After an enlightening lesson in Rickenbacker copyrights, a guitarist turns his once playable Tokai into an art guitar.


Name: Ross DeAeth

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Guitar: Not a Ric

My guitar’s story is not so much a matter of what, but rather why. It came into my life as a very playable Tokai Rickenbacker 325 copy. I tired of it and proceeded to list it on eBay, making sure prospective buyers knew it was NOT a Ric. Shortly after, I received a rather terse message from eBay that my auction item was removed and that if I tried anything like this again, I’d be in big trouble.

I contacted John Hall at Rickenbacker for an explanation and had a rather enlightening email exchange. He explained that this was a copyrighted design and I couldn’t profit from said purloined design. What about the many other guitar designs that are copied? Mr. Hall informed me that those original manufacturers weren’t as diligent as Rickenbacker was in protecting their designs and, thus, opened the door for countless copies and knock-offs.

Mr. Hall politely explained that if a Rickenbacker employee stumbled on my guitar, even at a yard sale, they could rightfully seize it. Only one thing to do: modify the imposter. I think most will agree they’re looking at garbage. I wouldn’t argue with them, or with Mr. Hall for that matter.

The first thing I did was de-horn the guitar and alter the headstock. Then I took some brass sheeting and tacked it on the body. Keep in mind, I just wanted to change the appearance and keep it playable. After pulling the electronics and removing the chrome from the pickup covers, I lost my nerve and embarked on the “art guitar” path. The tubes are some sort of infrared, high-end audio connectors. The scotch corks are Drambuie and Highland Park. The knobs are original Tokai. I used glitter glue and $4 tiny lights from Barnes & Noble sale bin. The grenade handle is from a practice range weapon (I think).

At one time, I was going to smash the original Tokai and send the pieces to Mr. Hall in order to get off his naughty list. Glad I reconsidered. Full disclosure: I also own and play a full-blooded Rickenbacker 330/12. (It’s my third one.)

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It’s all in the details.



  • Understand the inherent challenges in rhythm guitar playing.
  • Develop new strumming patterns.
  • Cultivate practice strategies to keep yourself motivated.
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