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John Lennon with his Rickenbacker
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John's Rickenbackers

Subject: John's Rickenbackers - A 'Definitive' Answer
From: Malcolm Atkinson 
Date: 12 Apr 1996 06:19:20 GMT

The January '96 edition of 'Total Guitar' (p.5 and 44-47) had a
supurb article on the Beatle guitars, complete with colour photos
of many of their guitars, taken especially for the magazine. 

However, pride of place is given to John's 1958 Rickenbacker 325.
There's a full page photo of the guitar (p.5), as it appears today,
stripped of its black paint, back down to its natural finish. The
following information is based upon the magazine article.

Made in 1958, there were only eight made this year. John had seen 
'Toots' Thieleman performing with a Rickenbacker and it captured his
imagination. The 325 had a natural finish with four control knobs,
three pickups and originally a gold lucite scatchplate (now replaced
with a white one). The gold lucite headstock nameplate remains.

Soon after John bought it, he replaced the original Kaufmann Vibrola 
tailpiece to the Bigsby tailpiece.

'Total Guitar' says the 325 was refinished in black shortly before 
the 'Please Please Me' sessions, courtesy of Jim Burns of London.
Looking at Dezo Hoffman's photos from the EMI session on September 4
'62, the natural finish is still intact on the 325 (Lewisohn,
Beatles Recording Sessions (1988) p.19). Yet, by January 12 1963,
the guitar had been refinished (there's a newspaper photo of the
Beatles in Kent, dated January 12 '63 - Lewisohn, The Beatles Live,
1986, p.127). However, the painting may have been done even earlier.
Pawlowski's 'How They Became The Beatles', (1989) has several photos
of the Beatles, now with Ringo, performing at the Star Club in
December 1962 (p.110-113). So the refinish was done sometime between
September 4 and around, say, December 18, the date they flew to
Hamburg. Can anybody narrow it down any further?   

This 1958 325 was Lennon's main guitar until February 1964, when 
Rickenbacker gave him another 325. My guess is that it was
presented during their stay in Miami on Feb 14-15, since John was
using the '58 model during the Feb 9 Ed Sullivan Show recordings
(Lewisohn, CBRS, p.145), and the Feb 11 Washington Colliseum
performance ('Beatles For Sale' CD inner cover photo), but can be
seen using the new Rickenbacker during rehearsals and the recording
of the second Ed Sullivan Show (Benson, In The Beginning, 1993,
pp.86-87). This 325 was a Jetglo (black) with a slimmer body,
smaller headstock, a white double scratch plate, an additional fifth
control knob and an Ac'cent vibrato unit, and this he played through
the 1965 tours and used it as late as November 23 for the filming of
the Day Tripper, Help, Ticket To Ride and I Feel Fine promo films.
However, in 1966, John switched to an Epiphone Casino, first seen
during the filming of the 'Paperback Writer' and 'Rain' promos on
May 19 1966.   

John was also given a 12-string model of the Jetglo 325, with a flat
tailpiece. It is also distinguished by the slight cut-out in the 
'Rickenbacker' nameplate - just as George's 12-string had. Although
John took it with him on the '64 tour, he rarely used it...though he
can be seen using it during the mimed TV performance in Holland on
June 5 1964 (Benson, In The Beginning, p.101). There's a photo of
the 12-string amongst the other guitars taken on the '64 North
America Tour (found in A. Rayl's 'Beatles'64 - A Hard Day's Night In
America', 1989, p.126).

Total Guitar says the 12-string 325 was apparently used it to record
Ticket To Ride, and also reports its use on the accompanying promo
film - but the photo they show appears to be the 6-string model,
judging by the headstock.

Malcolm Atkinson
Somewhere Down Under

"You might very well think that, but of course, I couldn't possibly 

    Malcolm Atkinson of New Zealand 

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