Rickenbacker 360/12

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Rickenbacker 360/12
Manufacturer Rickenbacker
Period 1963 - Present
Construction
Body type Semi-Hollow
Neck joint Set
Woods
Body Maple Carved, with white plastic binding along the back
Neck Three-ply Maple/Walnut
Fretboard Rosewood with pearloid triangle inlays and white plastic binding
Hardware
Bridge Adjustable
Pickup(s) Two Single-coil pickups
Colors available
Mapleglo (natural), Fireglo (sunburst), Jetglo (black), Midnight Blue

The Rickenbacker 360/12 is an electric guitar made by the Rickenbacker company; it was among the first electric twelve-string guitars. This instrument is visually similar to the Rickenbacker 360. Rickenbacker uses an innovative headstock design that incorporates both a slotted-style peghead and a solid peghead, thereby eliminating the need for the larger headstock normally associated with a twelve-string guitar.

Another feature unique to Rickenbacker twelve-strings is the ordering of the courses. Most twelve-strings have the octave course on the bass side of the standard course; Rickenbacker reverses this convention. This feature along with the semi-hollow body design and thru-body neck structure contribute to its unique timbre. The 360/12 was given worldwide attention by George Harrison, who used it on many Beatles recordings, introducing the distinctive new sound of this guitar on "I Call Your Name" in March 1964.[1]

Origin[edit]

Rickenbacker began developing its electric twelve-string in 1963. The folk music revival of the early '60s witnessed a surge in the popularity of acoustic twelve-string guitars, but the electric variety was still rare. The company created three prototypes, all incorporating the unique headstock design submitted by employee Dick Burke. The design features three tuners on each side mounted as on a standard guitar, with the tuner posts projecting out from the face of the headstock. Two parallel channels are machined into the face of the headstock, reminiscent of the slots in the headstock of a classical guitar, but cut only halfway through the headstock.

Three more Kluson tuners are attached to each side of the headstock. The knobs of the tuners project towards the rear of the headstock, and the posts transsect the slots in the headstock. The original tuners (machines) were Kluson brand. This innovation minimizes the size of the headstock, and keeps the instrument from feeling "head-heavy" in the player's hands. It is also one of the very few twelve string guitars to use a conventional width six-string neck, making it somewhat more difficult to play cleanly for those with large hands/fingers, as the string courses are much closer together than they would normally be on most twelve string guitars. The Rickenbacker 360/12 was produced with standard f holes rather than the characteristic 'slash; of the originals.

Rickenbacker gave the first of these prototypes to Suzy Arden, a Las Vegas country music entertainer. Another prototype was featured at a special display at the Savoy Hilton hotel in New York City in 1964. This display was a showcase for The Beatles, who were in town to play on The Ed Sullivan Show. Despite missing the display due to illness, George Harrison ended up with the twelve-string prototype. His prominent use of the instrument in the film A Hard Day's Night led to high demand for Rickenbacker's twelve-string.

Harrison loved the 360/12, and while he moved on to other guitars as his "main" instrument, he retained his affection for the 360-12, once calling it "the only 12 string you can change a string on when you're drunk."[citation needed] He brought his original 360/12 out of retirement to use on his album "Cloud 9". Harrison was presented a new style 360/12 in a Fireglo (red sunburst) finish by B-Sharp Music of Minneapolis, MN during the Beatles' only Minnesota appearance at Metropolitan Stadium (Bloomington, MN) in August 1965,[2] which he used on the "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" albums. The guitar has never been seen or mentioned since the group's 1966 US tour, with speculation that it was stolen.[citation needed]

When production began in 1964, Rickenbacker changed some features from those of the prototype. The edge of the body was rounded off around the top of the guitar, and white plastic binding was added to the soundhole. Production models retained the prototypes' use of the rectangular trapeze tailpiece until late 1964, when twelve-string models were fitted with Rickenbacker's "R" tailpiece. The last 360/12 OS was produced in Fireglo and made in December 1968 S/N HL1725.(Ref. R.Smith) After 1969, the 360/12 gained a 24-fret neck instead of the traditional 21-fret neck. Three models were produced: the two-pickup 360/12, the three-pickup 370/12 (favored by Roger McGuinn of the The Byrds) and the 450/12, a two-pickup solidbody.

The distinctive "jangly" sound of the Rickenbacker 360/12, while approached by other electric twelve strings, has a uniqueness of tone that is unavailable in other guitars of the same type, making it a high-value commodity to musicians attempting to get that particular sound. It continues to sell well to the end of 2007.

A notable variant of the 360/12 was the Model 366, that took a standard 360/12 and added a convertible comb device to the body used to clamp the octave strings down against the fretboard, effectively muting them on the fly for obtaining a conventional six string sound from the same instrument during live performances.

Notable players[edit]

References[edit]

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