Rickenbacker 360/12

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Rickenbacker 360/12
1967 Rickenbacker 360-12 12 string electric guitar owned and photographed by Greg Field.jpg
Period1963 - Present
Body typeSemi-Hollow
Neck jointSet Neck
BodyMaple Carved, with white plastic binding along the back
NeckThree-piece Maple
FretboardRosewood with pearloid triangle inlays and white plastic binding or similarly configured, sealed Ebony on custom ordered instruments.
Pickup(s)Two Single-coil pickups Nickel Chrome standard, Gold and Black Chrome custom order
Colors available
Mapleglo (natural), Fireglo (sunburst), Jetglo (black), Midnight Blue, Ruby* (bright red) - *not available all years except by custom order.

The Rickenbacker 360/12 is a semi-hollow body with set neck construction electric guitar made by the Rickenbacker company; it was among the first electric twelve-string guitars. This instrument is the 12 string variant of 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 when George Harrison used it on many Beatles recordings, introducing the distinctive new sound of this guitar on "I Call Your Name", which the band recorded in March 1964.[1] In the late 1960s, the company made alternative models such as the Rickenbacker 370/12, which became the favored instrument of Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.


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. The headstock routs on 360/12s made after 2005 extend through the headstock, though vintage reissue guitars such as the 360/12C63 remain as before.[citation needed]

Three more tuners are attached to each side of the headstock. The knobs of the tuners project towards the rear of the headstock, and the posts transect the slots in the headstock. The original tuners (machines) were Kluson brand, though after 1982 Grover Rotomatics were used for a time, with Schaller M6 Minis becoming standard in 1985.[citation needed] 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 Beatles in 1964, showing George Harrison with his original style 1963 Rickenbacker 360 12 string

Rickenbacker gave the first of these prototypes to Suzi 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.

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)[citation needed] After 1969, the 360/12 gained a 24-fret neck instead of the traditional 21-fret neck. Two models were produced: the two-pickup 360/12, and the three-pickup 370/12 (favored by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds).

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,[citation needed] making it a high-value commodity to musicians attempting to get that particular sound. It continues to sell well to the end of 2018.

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]


  1. ^ The Beatles and their Rickenbacker Guitars
  2. ^ Fanelli, Damian (April 17, 2017). "The Beatles' Secret Weapon: George Harrison's 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12".
  3. ^ "Guitar Collection: Roger McGuinn's 1964 Rickenbacker 360-12". Dec 14, 2011.
  4. ^ "Carl Wilson Limited Edition 360W and 360/12CW Guitar". Rickenbacker.com. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Bacon, Tony (October 3, 2017). "Tom Petty Describes the Allure of the 12-String in Previously Unpublished Interview".
  6. ^ Brewster, Will. "Gear Rundown - Jeff Buckley". mixdownmag.com.au. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  7. ^ Shadrick, Jason, Tony (July 27, 2013). "Rig Rundown - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Rontundi, James (June 1, 1992). "The Reluctant God of Smart Pop". Guitarist Magazine. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  9. ^ "Johnny Marr's Gear". Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Guitar World Staff (January 29, 2016). "Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder and Guitarist Paul Kantner Dead at 74". Guitar World.
  11. ^ "Pete Townshend's Guitar Gear History – An Equipment Overview".
  12. ^ "Marty Willson-Piper - A rising star under the Milky Way shines in Rickenbacker country". rickenbacker.com. 10 January 1990. Retrieved 25 August 2018.

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