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Rickenbacker 325: Why does no one play one?
Old 4th April 2016
  #1
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bash's Avatar
 

Rickenbacker 325: Why does no one play one?

I love the look and I think I would love the scale. But for a guitar that everyone seems to love (and is very expensive) why is it that no one famous (beyond Lennon, of course) play one? Do they really play or sound that bad? I've never had the opportunity to play one and I've been holding myself back on taking a chance buying one sound-unheard due to it's lack of being on any recordings other than early Beatles. Any experience with one or any respectable players using one?

Note: John Fogerty doesn't count because I've been told his was so modded that it had little in common with an off-the-shelf Rickenbacker 325.
Old 4th April 2016
  #2
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by bash View Post
I love the look and I think I would love the scale. But for a guitar that everyone seems to love (and is very expensive) why is it that no one famous (beyond Lennon, of course) play one? Do they really play or sound that bad? I've never had the opportunity to play one and I've been holding myself back on taking a chance buying one sound-unheard due to it's lack of being on any recordings other than early Beatles. Any experience with one or any respectable players using one?

Note: John Fogerty doesn't count because I've been told his was so modded that it had little in common with an off-the-shelf Rickenbacker 325.
Well, a 325 for one thing is a 3/4 scale guitar, so that is an instrument of a different flavor. It's a short scale guitar and that is usually setup with heavy(er) strings than most people are used to playing with. Not a deal breaker, but certainly an acquired taste.

If you are tall or have large hands you may find a 3/4 guitar to be uncomfortable if not down right un-playable. If you can play one and are a large or tall person, the guitar may look like a toy strapped over your shoulder.

I'm 6' 3" - medium build. I had RIC custom build a 350 for me about 20 years ago. A 350 is basically a 325 body with full scale neck. So, not exactly a 325, but playable for me. It's reasonably sized for a guy my size, but arguably looks a little toy-ish (body size) when I'm playing it. Of course, that's just aesthetics.

All of the above said, my RIC 350 is an awesome playing and an amazing sounding guitar. Actually one of my very favorites of my more than 30 guitars of all types and configurations. Amazing when recording - it just sits in any mix. When you want RIC sound it's the bomb.

The guitar is a stunningly beautiful guitar and a joy to play.

Hope this helps some...
Old 4th April 2016
  #3

I know a guy who has made a lot of money rebuilding the necks on RIC guitars.

I always liked the way that the 4003 played and sounded.



-tINY

Old 4th April 2016
  #4
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

Too small for me. I like wide necks, and the pickups don't really give me the tone I'd like. So, no Ric for me, although there's nothing better than the sound of the Ric 4000 series basses.
Old 7th April 2016
  #5
Here for the gear
 

I'm not a big guy -- so the 3/4 scale didn't bother me. The neck is VERY narrow, though. The same scale with a slightly wider neck would have been just perfect.
Old 7th April 2016
  #6
A high school friend got one in 1966, a Fireburst "John Lennon" model. It was very small. It was hard to keep in tune. He sold it and got a 68 black strat with a maple fingerboard like Clapton's Blackie.

My problem with all Ricky's is the dual truss rod neck design. I cannot play guitars with those lumps of the side of the neck, I prefer a "V" shape as that fits the space in my hand.
Old 8th April 2016
  #7
Gear Addict
 

in general Rickenbacker guitars have always been more popular with rhythm guitar players than with lead players ... John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Roger McGuinn, Paul Weller, Pete Buck, Mike Campbell all mostly did their rhythm / chord work on Rickenbackers, and usually also went for rather clean, 'jangly' sounds on these...
and, as opposed to pretty much every other electric, to my knowledge it has hardly been used by any blues players - please chime in and correct me if I'm wrong ....
Old 8th April 2016
  #8
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by motone View Post
... to my knowledge it has hardly been used by any blues players - please chime in and correct me if I'm wrong ....
Well, this is blues… ish. And it's slide. Close as I could come.

Old 8th April 2016
  #9
Small frets with laquered fingerboards makes string bending difficult. That's why Ricky's are not used by shredders.
Old 9th April 2016
  #10
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
A high school friend got one in 1966, a Fireburst "John Lennon" model. It was very small. It was hard to keep in tune. He sold it and got a 68 black strat with a maple fingerboard like Clapton's Blackie.

My problem with all Ricky's is the dual truss rod neck design. I cannot play guitars with those lumps of the side of the neck, I prefer a "V" shape as that fits the space in my hand.
Is that why Rickenbacker necks are shaped weird? I've worked on dozens of those guitars and never associated the neck shape with the dual rod design, but it makes sense.

I'm with you - rickenbacker necks feel weird.
Old 9th April 2016
  #11
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Jeff Scott's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Well, this is blues… ish. And it's slide. Close as I could come.

That is a 230GF that Joe is playing there; I used to have the bass version, the 2030GF.
Attached Thumbnails
Rickenbacker 325: Why does no one play one?-2030gf-1200_0652.jpg  
Old 9th April 2016
  #12
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How's this for killing Rick style stereotypes? UH is playing a model 620, here.





And, this is using just the bridge pickup into a VOX amp, the perfect recipe for that jangly tone, but not here though, folks!
Old 9th April 2016
  #13
Gear Head
 

I have bigger hands and even playing a les paul takes a couple days to get used to. My mind/hand coordination will probably always favor a strat. I wouldn't be wanna take my eye off that fretboard too much if playing live with a 325....
Old 9th April 2016
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
Is that why Rickenbacker necks are shaped weird? I've worked on dozens of those guitars and never associated the neck shape with the dual rod design, but it makes sense.

I'm with you - rickenbacker necks feel weird.
With dual truss rods the necks must be made wider to accomidate them and leave enough wood around them. Therefore you will never see a Ricky with a V shaped neck like a Telecaster.

The bones at the base of my index finger and thumb hit that piece of wood and it forces my hand away from the fingerboard. I must use a slightly V shaped neck for the bones and my hand to play with comfort.

I would love to own a Ricky but it would have to be made custom with one truss rod, heavier, higher frets and no laquer on the fingerboard. In other words, a Rosewood Telecaster.
Old 9th April 2016
  #15
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
With dual truss rods the necks must be made wider to accomidate them and leave enough wood around them. Therefore you will never see a Ricky with a V shaped neck like a Telecaster.

The bones at the base of my index finger and thumb hit that piece of wood and it forces my hand away from the fingerboard. I must use a slightly V shaped neck for the bones and my hand to play with comfort.
I've had the same problem with necks shaped like that. My favorite neck is on my '39 L-37, which has a fairly pronounced V with 1-3/4" nut.

Despite the fact that there's two of them, the dual rod design sometimes doesn't work that well. I've had to remove rods in several Rickenbackers and bend the steel rods by hand, and then re-insert them into the neck in order to get the appropriate amount of adjustment out of them. I guess it's cool that you can remove the rods without removing the fingerboard, but it's a drag that it's even necessary at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
I would love to own a Ricky but it would have to be made custom with one truss rod, heavier, higher frets and no laquer on the fingerboard. In other words, a Rosewood Telecaster.
Yeah, but with that body design and those pickups, it would sound like a Ric, which would be super cool. I have also dreamed of a Rickenbacker look-alike that plays more like a regular guitar. I'm a luthier with a fully functional wood shop and a stock of tonewoods. Most of my time in the shop goes to repair work, but if I ever build a Ric look-alike, I'll definitely shoot you some pics.
Old 11th April 2016
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Scott View Post
And, this is using just the bridge pickup into a VOX amp, the perfect recipe for that jangly tone, but not here though, folks!


EQ is a many-wondered thing.....



-tINY

Old 11th April 2016
  #17
Registered User
I've been interested in the 3/4 scale Ricky ever since I learned John Lennon played one. I have played one and could have/should have bought one years ago ...

Here is my take on it ... John played Rhythm guitar, and he was not a large person. A lot of those 60's English rockers were very influenced by Chuck Berry and played a lot of those chugging type Root and Fifth chords on the bass strings where you alternate with the Root and 6th and maybe stretch to a 7th. Roll Over Beethoven would be a good example, and quite a few Beatles songs. If you have small fingers, it's quite a stretch to play the Root and 7th on the lower frets - so this is the perfect guitar for a small person to play that stuff really comfortably.

Also - I think being a smaller scale it makes that type of rhythm guitar playing sound less muddy on the low fret bass strings.

That's the main reason I would want one, but I don't really do that music anymore so it hasn't been a priority.
Old 11th April 2016
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Scott View Post
How's this for killing Rick style stereotypes? UH is playing a model 620, here.





And, this is using just the bridge pickup into a VOX amp, the perfect recipe for that jangly tone, but not here though, folks!
Sounds great!!
Old 13th April 2016
  #19
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I read once that when asked why he played "that small guitar" John Lennon answered something like, "Because it's easier to play the hard chords on". I have both a 325 and a 350 and have used my 350 numerous times for gigs. My 325 is still NITB unplayed. They are both great guitars but like any other they just need to be set up right.
Old 14th April 2016
  #20
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Jeff Scott's Avatar
 

Here is another UH using a 350V63, the long scale cousin to the 325 (minus vibrato).

Old 14th April 2016
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I've been interested in the 3/4 scale Ricky ever since I learned John Lennon played one. I have played one and could have/should have bought one years ago ...

Here is my take on it ... John played Rhythm guitar, and he was not a large person. A lot of those 60's English rockers were very influenced by Chuck Berry and played a lot of those chugging type Root and Fifth chords on the bass strings where you alternate with the Root and 6th and maybe stretch to a 7th. Roll Over Beethoven would be a good example, and quite a few Beatles songs. If you have small fingers, it's quite a stretch to play the Root and 7th on the lower frets - so this is the perfect guitar for a small person to play that stuff really comfortably.

Also - I think being a smaller scale it makes that type of rhythm guitar playing sound less muddy on the low fret bass strings.

That's the main reason I would want one, but I don't really do that music anymore so it hasn't been a priority.
BTW I have seen multiple interviews with various Beatles who have said that they couldnt afford the instruments they wanted in the early days like Fender and Gibson, and, that they were hard to get in England. It always surprised me it seems they considered their instruments second rate since those sounds became the benchmark for so many people later on
Old 17th April 2016
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post

Also - I think being a smaller scale it makes that type of rhythm guitar playing sound less muddy on the low fret bass strings.
It's actually the opposite. Shorter scale makes the bass notes muddy, due to inharmonicity of the overtones. That's why spinet pianos have such notoriously crappy bass - the strings are too short.

However the shorter scale does make those Chuck Berry rhythm parts much easier to play in the key of F if you don't happen to be blessed with Chuck length fingers.

I think it's possible that one reason Lennon used flatwounds on his Ric is that the reduced overtone content of the flatwound string makes the inharmonicity less obvious.
Old 17th April 2016
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
sharkboy's Avatar
I've had Rickenbackers since about '89 or '90. They are my favorite electric guitar make. I would like a 350, but a 325 might still be pretty cool. Most of my electric gigs have entailed the use of a 650, a 660/6 and a 660/12, but my 370/6 from the late 90's seems to get more non-gig time. The long scale guitars are surprisingly versatile. Hard to play blues on, because they make me smile too much.

Last edited by sharkboy; 18th April 2016 at 02:47 AM..
Old 18th April 2016
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveGTR View Post
BTW I have seen multiple interviews with various Beatles who have said that they couldnt afford the instruments they wanted in the early days like Fender and Gibson, and, that they were hard to get in England. It always surprised me it seems they considered their instruments second rate since those sounds became the benchmark for so many people later on
George even spoke about how they had "puny" amplifiers (the now famous AC30s). They really weren't gear heads, but they did love the Fender stuff later on.
Old 18th April 2016
  #25
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I've been interested in the 3/4 scale Ricky ever since I learned John Lennon played one. I have played one and could have/should have bought one years ago ...

Here is my take on it ... John played Rhythm guitar, and he was not a large person. A lot of those 60's English rockers were very influenced by Chuck Berry and played a lot of those chugging type Root and Fifth chords on the bass strings where you alternate with the Root and 6th and maybe stretch to a 7th. Roll Over Beethoven would be a good example, and quite a few Beatles songs. If you have small fingers, it's quite a stretch to play the Root and 7th on the lower frets - so this is the perfect guitar for a small person to play that stuff really comfortably.

Also - I think being a smaller scale it makes that type of rhythm guitar playing sound less muddy on the low fret bass strings.

That's the main reason I would want one, but I don't really do that music anymore so it hasn't been a priority.
Lennon's first 325 was/is an an amazing and unique sounding guitar. It's almost Strat like on the "With The Beatles" album on tracks like "All I've Gotta Do" and "It Won't Be Long." Very odd and cool. Kind of that "out of phase" thing but not that in your face as a Strat would be. Oddly enough, George's Gent, on the bridge PU, had similar characteristics. When they both strummed together, as in "Please Mr Postman" it sounds like a wall of Strats
Old 18th April 2016
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
George even spoke about how they had "puny" amplifiers (the now famous AC30s). They really weren't gear heads, but they did love the Fender stuff later on.
I guess when you play Shea Stadium with no PA and an AC30 it is pretty puny!!
Old 18th April 2016
  #27
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveGTR View Post
I guess when you play Shea Stadium with no PA and an AC30 it is pretty puny!!
Actually at Shea they had AC100s....about 80 watts ...huge at the time. Like Showmans. The screams would have drowned out anything though.

But yeah...no PA
Old 18th April 2016
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Actually at Shea they had AC100s....about 80 watts ...huge at the time. Like Showmans. The screams would have drowned out anything though.

But yeah...no PA
Interesting! Still puny
Old 19th April 2016
  #29
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noah330's Avatar
I don't have a 325, but I have a 330 and a 660.

I never have a problem playing a guitar. There are things I like better than others, but usually after a little while I can adapt and a big part of the reason I like to play different guitars is because they'll force you to play differently.

If I saw a good deal on a 325 I would buy it and play everything that I play on a Strat or Les Paul on it.

The 325 worked really well for John Lennon. I would guess some of the things he played would have sounded different if he played them on something else.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV34Rp8iTV0
Old 20th April 2016
  #30
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Scott View Post
How's this for killing Rick style stereotypes? UH is playing a model 620, here.
Not to mention Marshall and Vox stereotypes. Good one.
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