Most Beatles fans will recognize this black and white Rickenbacker guitar from the early days of the Fab Four. I joined a band when I was 16, and I needed an electric guitar to play onstage. I'd had my acoustic for almost three years and it was time to upgrade. My favorite band was the Beatles, and it was easy for me to decide what kind of guitar I wanted.
It was 1998 when I bought this guitar. I found it online, but I didn't realize that it was a collectible at the time: there were only 2000 of these made beginning in 1990. Mine is the short-scale model, as it has a 3/4 scale neck. This was perfect for a girl like me because I have smaller hands and some guitars are harder for me to play than others.
I have to admit that the sound is not too show-stopping. Nowadays I save this one for special occasions, because more modern technology is superior for some of the songs I play. However, because this guitar is an exact replica of the guitar John Lennon was given in 1964 to replace his 1963 Hamburg-bought model, it only makes sense that it would be true to the sound of early electric guitars.
This guitar was issued with a retro silver Rickenbacker guitar case, which also serves to designate it as a limited edition model. I have noticed, however, that the balance on these cases isn't great: my guitar has fallen over on me if I stand the case up on its hinge. I also got a certificate of authenticity with my guitar's unique production number.
The headstock is finished in black with the trademark white Rickenbacker logo on the front, and the fretboard is rosewood. The body of the guitar is also black, and it has a two-tiered pickguard. The top layer has a fascimile signature of Lennon's as well as his self portrait sketch. Under the self portrait it reads "Limited Edition." There are three pickups and a selector switch which can be set to three different combinations.
All the hardware is silver, which goes well with the black and white motif. This guitar has a whammy bar and a tailpiece which makes stringing it a delicate and time-consuming procedure as you have to thread the end of the guitar string and then the entire length of the string through the opening so the ball on the end of the string will be in the correct position.
I used to buy Rickenbacker strings but the guage was just too heavy for me in that the low E string constantly buzzed if I hit it by itself. Once I got some smaller ones (strings in the 1960s were a bit heavier than today) I haven't had that problem. Something that really helps out is the wide availability of sounds you can get with modern amps: the limitations of this guitar aren't a problem at all with a good amp. I mostly use this guitar for rhythm these days, not because it can't handle lead but because I don't want to damage it by playing it too often.
If you play any early Beatles songs this guitar is a great addition to your collection. Even though it's not the 12-string you can use a chorus amp to get more of that Byrds or Tom Petty sound, too. It always attracts attention whenever I play it, and it helps me connect with a great era in rock and roll history.