Rickenbacker 360/12-String

ImageStarting off with one of the very first makers of the electric guitar, is Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker has been making quality instruments for over 70 years, becoming popular in the 1960’s with the rise of The Beatles. Since then, their electric guitars & basses have become unique fixtures in the all sorts of different genres of music, specifically rock ‘n roll.

One of the most popular guitars in the Rickenbacker family is the electric 12-string, or more specifically, the Rickenbacker 360 12-string.

A 12-string, obviously, is double the amount of strings of a regular 6-string guitar. The strings are placed in courses of two strings each that are usually played together. The two strings in each bass course are normally tuned an octave apart, while each pair of strings in the treble courses are tuned in unison. 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.

The Rickenbacker 360/12-string was first popularized by Beatles George Harrison in 1964, where the instrument was used heavily on their album, “A Hard Days Night.”

The 360-12 string grew in popularity when Roger McGuinn of the California folk-rock group, The Byrds, began to use the instrument after hearing Harrison used it in The Beatles records. The ringing, chiming, bell-like tone of the 360-12 string, would become the basis for The Byrds sound.
The Byrds were one of the last groups to truly champion the Rickenbacker 12-string throughout the 60’s & early-70’s, until in the late 70’s with the rise of the “new wave” era and formation of more “janglesque” bands, such as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Many bands during this era would bring the instrument back into the spotlight, including upstart bands in the 80’s like R.E.M., The Smiths, The Replacements and The Bangles.


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