Rickenbacker 331 Light Show Ser. No. KJ662

The Rickenbacker Company has created interesting, innovative instruments since the time it was founded in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Rickenbacker Company has created interesting, innovative instruments since the time it was founded in the first half of the twentieth century. One such instrument was the Model 331 electric guitar, which is more commonly known as “the light show guitar.” This is how the original 1970 leaflet described the super-psychedelic masterpiece:

“The Model 331 combines a fine musical instrument with the thrill of a light show. Internally lighted by a set of frequency modulated lamps, this instrument will shimmer with infinite color and pattern variety. This instrument also features stereo output, Hi-gain pickups, and 24 frets. The three modulation channels are variable with a sensitivity control to make this patented instrument a beautiful performer in the stage situations professionals encounter.”

The guitar had the same body as a 330 but with a bound neck and a translucent plastic top. The body had colored lamps built inside; different colored lamps lit when a different frequency was played (red for treble, yellow for mids, and blue for bass).

This example from the collection dates to October of 1971, and has an improved circuit and a heavier duty outboard transformer from earlier versions.

A bone nut being back-filed for proper string placement and correct action height.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to change your acoustic guitar’s tone and playability.

In my early days, all the guitars I played (which all happened to be pre-1950s) used bone nuts and saddles. I took this for granted, and so did my musician friends. With the exception of the ebony nuts on some turn-of-the-century parlors and the occasional use of ivory, the use of bone was a simple fact of our guitar playing lives, and alternative materials were simply uncommon to us.

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