Saturday, February 4, 2012

1967 Rickenbacker 450/12

Prototyped in December 1963 with its unique "reverse" set up (namely, the string is struck before the octave string), this design became the finalized Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar, which turned the music world upside after it was seen on the big screen in the summer of '64 in the hands of George Harrison. This exotic "Rickenbacker" guitar brand was also seen (earlier) in the hands of John Lennon (specifically, his incredibly rare 1958 model 325), and had also become one of the most famous guitars in the world (albeit one that practically no one could purchase, as they were made in such miniscule numbers).

It was after seeing "A Hard Day's Night" that folkie Jim McGuinn decided to "plug in" a 12 string Rickenbacker and form the Byrds, stamping out a sound that was copied in garages worldwide with the jangly tone of a twelve string electric.

Rickenbacker saw the same type of mass hysteria for their products as Gretsch, and also ramped up production to record numbers between 1964-1968.

The Model 450 was evolved into this shape and these features as seen in 1962, and remained virtually unchanged until it was dropped in the early '80's. Just like Lennon's 325, the model 450 is a short scale guitar; unlike the 325, the 450 is a solid body. 450/12's were made in very limited numbers, and although production totals are "lost" for 1967, only 109 black 450/12's were made in 1966.

This guitar is exceptionally cool as it pulls together three "Beatle" models; it has the 12 string thing, the black and white 'tuxedo' look of John's 325, and also George briefly played a 425 solid body (essentially a single pickup version of the 450) for a brief time in 1963, which he purchased that year, pre-Beatlemania in the USA, on his first trip to the states to visit his sister in Illinois.

The 450/12 was used quite often by The MC5's Fred 'Sonic' Smith:

guitar courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

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