Rickenbacker 330

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Rickenbacker 330
Rickenbacker 330JG.jpg
Jetglo Rickenbacker 330
Body typeSemi-hollow
Neck jointSet
NeckThree-ply maple/walnut
FretboardRosewood with pearloid dot inlays
Pickup(s)2 single-coil

The Rickenbacker 330 is part of Rickenbacker's 300 series of guitars, the series for which Rickenbacker is perhaps best known. The 330 entered the Rickenbacker product line in 1958, though at the time the 300 series of guitars was known as the "Capri" series.[1] It was designed by the German luthier Roger Rossmeisl.[2] The guitar is associated by many players with the jangle-rock sounds of bands from the 1960s and 1980s. The instrument incorporates many features standard on Rickenbacker guitars, including a three-ply maple/walnut neck, a shallow headstock angle, and a thick rosewood fretboard finished with clear conversion varnish. The 330 also features a body with Rickenbacker's "crescent moon" double-cutaway shape with sharp, unbound edges, and an "R"-shaped trapeze tailpiece. One idiosyncrasy of the guitar is its dual truss rods, which allow for the correction of problematic and unwanted twists, as well as curvature, of the guitar's neck. The 330 is equipped with a monaural jack plate, lacking the Rick-O-Sound stereo functionality of other Rickenbacker models such as the Rickenbacker 360.

The Rickenbacker 330, like all Rickenbacker models, is manufactured in the United States, specifically within the Rickenbacker factory located in Santa Ana, California. It is not mass-produced, but rather produced-to-order for dealers and individual customers. It carries a MSRP of $1,999.00.[3] The 330 is the top-selling instrument within Rickenbacker's lineup, as stated by the company's CEO:

The 330 is the biggest seller, followed quite closely by the 360, and 4003. Those three alone make up about 70% of our sales.

From 1970 to 1974 Rickenbacker offered the 331, or what became known as the "Light Show" guitar. This version had a built in light organ, with an external power supply.

Prior to 2008, this model was also available with an additional pickup (Model 340, 340/12 12 string version). Also offered as a twelve string version (Model 330/12 respectively). During the Rose Morris Rickenbacker export to the UK, this model was available as the model 1997, and the 340 was called the 1998. Rather than featuring the standard Rickenbacker slash-shaped sound hole, both guitars featured an f-shaped violin sound hole, which made these guitars instant collector's items.[5]


Model specs[edit]

  • No. Frets 24 (originally 21 until 1970)
  • Scale Length 62.9 cm (24​34")
  • Neck Width at Nut 41.4 mm (1.63")
  • Neck Width at 12th Fret 49.05 mm (1.931")
  • Crown Radius 25.4 cm (10")
  • Weight 3.6 kg (8.0 lbs.)
  • Overall Length 100.3 cm (39​12")
  • Overall Width 38.1 cm (15")
  • Overall Depth 38.1 mm (1​12")
  • Schaller Machine Heads

Rickenbacker 330s are optimized for and equipped with 10–46 gauge, compressed, round-wound strings:[6]

String Gauge (inch)
e .010
B .013
G .017
D .026
A .036
E .046


Modern 330s are equipped with Rickenbacker's Hi-Gain single-coil pickups. Formerly, the model came equipped with Rickenbacker's Toaster pickups. The Hi-Gains have noticeably higher output than the Toasters, though this has resulted in the character of the sound in current models being slightly different from that of the older, pre-1970s models. The sound of the old Toaster pickups has been associated with such musical acts as the Byrds and the Beatles, while the newer Hi-Gain pickups are more representative of the sound of groups such as the Smiths and R.E.M.

Fifth control knob[edit]

For each of the 330's two pickups there are two knobs that control tone and volume. However in 1961,[7] a fifth "blend" knob was added to the guitar to expand the possible adjustment of the guitar's tone. This knob has several different functions, such as acting as a tone blender between pickups and as a general EQ between the bass and treble tones of the guitar. Its primary function, however, is to serve as a bass pickup volume equalizer, allowing for the generally quieter bridge pickup to be brought up to comparable levels of volume with the neck pickup. Furthermore, when neck pickup is in use, the fifth knob does not do much except dropping the overall volume. In fact, the volume at bass pickup is much louder than the sound of bridge pickup regardless of fifth knob settings.

Notable players[edit]


  1. ^ [1], The History of Rickenbacker Guitars
  2. ^ [2], Rickenbacker History
  3. ^ [3], Musiciansfriend.com Rickenbacker 330 MSRP Listing
  4. ^ [4], John Hall Q&A
  5. ^ [5], Rickenbacker 340 12-String Guitars
  6. ^ [6], Rickenbacker 330 Owner's Manual.
  7. ^ [7], Electronic History of Rickenbacker Guitars
  8. ^ "Interview: Paul Weller Discusses Danelectros, Rickenbackers and His New Album, 'Sonik Kicks'". Guitar World. March 10, 2012.
  9. ^ "Brix Smith Equipboard". Equipboard. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Johnny Marr's Gear". www.smithsonguitar.com. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  11. ^ "Wendy Melvoin: Playing for the Revolution". Premiere Guitar. October 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "The Edge's Guitars and Gear". www.groundguitar.com. Retrieved April 29, 2019.

External links[edit]