Boyd vibrato pics?

Early years of Rickenbacker Guitars prior to and including 1972

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Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jfine) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:13 am

Anybody have pics of the Boyd vibrato that Rickenbacker used in the '60's? They're mentioned in Richard Smith's book, but there are no pics, and I've never seen one. Apparently they were used between the Kauffman Vibrola and the Ac'cent unit, maybe some concurrently with the Ac'cent. What would really be great is if someone could provide any information on the ultra-rare B-Bender version. Smith mentions it, but again, no pics. I'd love to know how that thing worked--I've played a Parsons-White-equipped Tele for years, and to get a pull-string to work with a vibrato would be very cool! I've seen homemade setups that worked with a Bigsby, including one on a Gretsch that used an actual pedal and a cable--very awkward indeed.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (sloop_john_b) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:37 pm

The Boyd unit wss only used on a few 400-series guitars IIRC. Here's a photo of one: http://www.rickenbacker.me.uk/www.ricke ... es.html#96
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:53 pm

The Boyd is on the 425S (Student) at the bottom of the page.

I've got two Ss with Boyds that I'm currently restoring, a 425S and a 450S. I don't have pictures of the innards, but these vibratos were used by other manufacturers besides RIC, and I've managed to pick up some NOS ones with different handles, for parts, which were intended for Kays and Teiscos in the '60s.

These are very basic in operation, having a heavy sheet metal bracket to which is mounted a pivoted horizontal shaft which connects to the bracket with two springs which cause the shaft to return to its stop when it's tensioned by pressing down on the lever. The bracket is attached with three screws to the guitar body, and sits in a routed recess about 8 mm deep.

The RIC version of the Boyd has a handle made of thinnish rod which is shaped like an elongated paper clip and attaches to the pivot with a clamp-bolt. It does not look like any other vibrato handle out there.

These 400-series with Boyds had the instrument's serial number stamped on the underside of the chrome Boyd cover, which was most often lost or misplaced. Mine are both '67s, and also had tuners of Japanese manufacture. The Boyd was reportedly Japanese-made, too.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (sloop_john_b) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:04 pm

Paul, what makes certain 400's "student models"? Wouldn't those have been Electro ES-17's and the like?
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (collin) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:15 pm

sloop_john_b wrote:Paul, what makes certain 400's "student models"? Wouldn't those have been Electro ES-17's and the like?


While they are all "student models," (the single-pickup solids), in that they fit in that market (along with Fender's musicmaster, Gibson's LP Jr etc..), I think the Boyd vibrato models were literally supplied as kits to guitar instruction schools, for student's use.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:43 pm

These were Rickenbacker-branded, which would have meant they went to authorized dealers in the Rick network, as opposed to Electros and other proprietary brands.

Neither of my "S" models came with a Rick case, though all parts except tuners (Japanese, and original) and the Boyd, are standard-issue Rickenbacker and of typical good quality--pots, pickups, wiring, switch. The TRC is '60s vintage silk-screened, too; pickguard is acrylic.

As to "kit guitars", here's what I see:

FOR: The low-cost vibrato and tuners

AGAINST: Excellent factory paint finish (better than the Electro stuff), set-neck construction

I suppose it's possible that these could've been supplied as "finished" (painted) kits, but assembly and setup of these is a rapid and inexpensive process, as opposed to the main expense--painting and detailing the bodies. If these were to go out in kit form, as painted but unassembled instruments, about 90% of the work would have been done already, and the simple of act of packing guitar and parts in logical order, with the production of some sort of instruction sheet, would seem to negate any savings.

Bear in mind that one of mine was factory-fitted with 2 toasters, making it a 450S. So, they weren't all single-pickup models. Fender, too, sold a two-pickup "student" model--the Duo-Sonic.

I think the "Student" labeling (if in fact, this is what the "S" really stands for!) was, instead, a one-time marketing decision. Perhaps the price point hinted at this.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (xcoyle) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:32 pm

I think "set" is a better description than "kit," because the "set" was marketed with an amp and accessories to dealers that gave lessons. I don't think any assembly was required though.

Much like this:
http://www.rickenbacker.com/catalog_pos ... cf56-8.jpg
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:25 pm

OK, I must apo0logize at this juncture for bad information.

I read somewhere that the "Boyd" vibrato was the one used on the 425S and the 450S (perhaps on Bjorn's site?), and it seems that others have the same idea.

John Hall's recollection of this is different, and has jogged my memory.

1. The Japanese vibrato, as used on the 400 series "student"models, is NOT a "Boyd". It uses a bent handle similar to a Fender handle.

2. The Boyd was made in USA, was constructed of heavy bent wire, and had the "paper clip" type handle.

I recall losing an Ebay auction about 5 months ago, for TWO NOS-in-boxes Boyds, because I failed to notify ESnipe that I had recently changed my Ebay password...AARRGGHH! I was buying these because they said "Boyd" on the box, but were nothing like the so-called "Boyds" that I was used to seeing.

But--I DID save the photos from the auction on one of my hard drives, so as soon as I dig them out, I will post them.

Meanwhile, here are the patent drawings for the Boyd:

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 15 14.15.jpg


ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 15 14.15.jpg


Note how the decorative base for the vibrato and the mousetrap type spring are integral. Note also the distinctive "paper-clip" handle and its fixing screw. I assume that Boyd played guitar and owned a wire forming company... :wink:
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (collin) » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:47 pm

jingle_jangle wrote:These were Rickenbacker-branded, which would have meant they went to authorized dealers in the Rick network, as opposed to Electros and other proprietary brands.

Neither of my "S" models came with a Rick case, though all parts except tuners (Japanese, and original) and the Boyd, are standard-issue Rickenbacker and of typical good quality--pots, pickups, wiring, switch. The TRC is '60s vintage silk-screened, too; pickguard is acrylic.

As to "kit guitars", here's what I see:

FOR: The low-cost vibrato and tuners

AGAINST: Excellent factory paint finish (better than the Electro stuff), set-neck construction

I suppose it's possible that these could've been supplied as "finished" (painted) kits, but assembly and setup of these is a rapid and inexpensive process, as opposed to the main expense--painting and detailing the bodies. If these were to go out in kit form, as painted but unassembled instruments, about 90% of the work would have been done already, and the simple of act of packing guitar and parts in logical order, with the production of some sort of instruction sheet, would seem to negate any savings.

Bear in mind that one of mine was factory-fitted with 2 toasters, making it a 450S. So, they weren't all single-pickup models. Fender, too, sold a two-pickup "student" model--the Duo-Sonic.

I think the "Student" labeling (if in fact, this is what the "S" really stands for!) was, instead, a one-time marketing decision. Perhaps the price point hinted at this.


Ah, when I said "kit," I meant something more like "package," not assembly kits like the Astro line.

For some reason I recall hearing that these vibrato-equipped 425 models were sold much like Electro guitars/amps, as a set, to particular instructional facilities for student use. I could be way wrong though.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:35 pm

Eventually we'll know the story...but, yes, a special "set" would seem to make sense!
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (clementc3) » Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:24 pm

There is a "project" Rickenbacker, very possibly a 425, on ebay now that looks like it has much of an elusive Boyd vibrato:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-1966-Rickenbacker-425-450-620-Ryder-Rare-Parts-/180497509212?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Guitar&hash=item2a067d6b5c

One of the photos shows the mechanism, albeit in a fairly corroded state:

Ric 425 with Boyd 1.jpg
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Ric 425 with Boyd 4.jpg
Ric 425 with Boyd 3.jpg
Ric 425 with Boyd 2.jpg
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:40 pm

Clement, I've briefly discussed this with John Hall, and believe that "Boyd" is a misnomer for this type of vibrato, as the photos and patent drawings earlier in this thread bear out:

1. The real Boyd was made in the USA.

2. As the drawings and photos indicate, Boyds were bent wire.

This type of vibrato was, and still is, being made in Asia, and in addition to being fitted to the 425S model Ricks, can be found on many USA and Japanese solid bodied guitars of the 1960s.

I have two 425Ss; the rarest parts are the vibrato arm and cover. However, the opening bid on this guitar is already twice what it's worth IMO.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (clementc3) » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:13 am

Paul, thanks for the clarification! I had trouble following the thread discussion but I now see how the Boyd patent drawings look nothing like the student "ashtray" vibratos nor the vibrato on the project 425 in the ebay listing.

The vibrato cover on the ebay project 425 does look like the vibrato cover on Graham Griffith's 425 Student to me, though; is Graham Griffith's 425 Student vibrato also a non-Boyd vibrato or is it the real thing?
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:49 am

As far as I can see, Boyds were never factory-fitted to Rickenbackers or any other make of guitar--they were aftermarket.

Image

Image

Image

Image

I don't know how the vibrato on the S models got the "Boyd" name. I like the term "ashtray" for the cover, though. Maybe we should just call it an "ashtray" vibrato.

Graham's 425S has its original vibrato, but the arm was missing and has been replaced with a generic Strat-type arm, which is what my 2 will receive when they're reassembled.

Image

The covers and vibe are both currently available, but in a different configuration--the vibe base plate is square with a flange now:

Image

...whereas it used to be six-sided, with the rear corners lopped off and a flat baseplate of minimal size:

Image

The two return springs remain the same. The shaft is now longer and protrudes from the side of the cover; back in the '60s it was a short shaft with the hole in the top of the cover into which the arm inserted.

Note also the serial number stamped into the bottom of the project guitar's vibrato cover--this is also typical of these Ss, and as far as I know, bears no relation to the usual Rick serial number system.
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Re: Boyd vibrato pics?

Postby (clementc3) » Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:55 pm

Thanks for the photos of the real Boyd vibrato! It is an interesting piece of industrial design, esthetically and operationally probably best suited for an archtop like their boxtop illustration. I like your theory that Boyd owned a wire forming company, too!

I have been studying the photos and the patent drawings trying to understand how it works; it looks like the strings pass in an "S" shaped path - through the main cross bar (#14) in the patent drawings, but in the actual device around a combination of a horizontal extension of the mousetrap spring and the main cross bar. The mousetrap spring (#23, 24 & 26?) resists the torque of the strings, and pulling the paper clip handle up (away from the body) or pushing it down (toward the body) rotates the main crossbar and the horizontal extension of the mousetrap spring for the vibrato action.

Does the main crossbar simply rest on/rock on support screws (#27 in the patent drawings)?

The operating concept of the Boyd reminds me of the recent thread about just pushing on the "R" tailpiece to get a vibrato effect, also!
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