John Hall Responds to Questions
Regarding Rickenbacker Guitars

Rickenbacker Forum

John Hall's email and alt.guitar.rickenbacker responses

This page is comprised of a number of John Hall's responses to questions regarding Rickenbacker guitars ranging from their construction to the final finish. It is important to appreciate that some of his responses may be based on circumstances at the time of the question. For this reason, the interested reader is advised to check with Rickenbacker International Corporation regarding the current corporate policy or the availability and production of specific instruments..

John Hall's Responses: December 23, 1999 to present

Subject: Did Rickenbacker Make Electro?

Date: 1999/10/27

Question: Did Rick manufacture guitars under the "Electro" name? If so, are there any other pseudonyms that Rick has used over the years?

Answer: It's the other way around. Originally, Electro String Instrument Corporation (ESIC) was the name of the parent company that produce "Rickenbacker" brand products. The "Electro" name was the main name, while it was "Rickenbacker" that was the pseudonym! Other product names which were often made by ESIC include Ryder, Symphonia Grand, Academy, NHF, and Contello, but these were private label goods which might also have been made by other suppliers as well. The only direct brand names that I recall being owned by the company are Rickenbacker, Electro, and Road (now owned by Celestion of England). By the way as an historical aside, ESIC remains in existence today, as it's name was changed to Rickenbacker International Corporation as part of a series of corporate mergers, which happened only about 2 years ago, to reunite the various pieces of our guitar business.

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Subject: Crushed Pearl Inlays

Date: 1999/12/23

Question: Were the original "crushed pearl" inlays just crushed pearl in a resin and poured or was that material in sheet form and actually cut and inlayed. Did it have any real crushed pearl in it or was it all a synthetic? Is the new material pearl powder or a synthetic?

Answer: The original material was an acrylic resin material in sheet form. The pearlescent which rather looks like sea snail shell was also acrylic. It appears to have been made by grinding the shell sheet material and pouring that together with the resin. The Japanese company which made this specialized in drum shell coverings, so I suppose this was essentially a by-product made from scrap material. All of the samples we have seen through the years differ significantly from the original material in a variety of ways. In many the colors and/or degree of pearlescence is just wrong. Other material has a grain that is too coarse or too fine. Finally. much material is not mechanically suited to being inlayed, crowned, coated, and polished. The process we use now, still all synthetic, has come through a long evolution and doesn't much resemble the process as described elsewhere. Extensive procedural and formula changes were made in 1984 and again in 1990. This is about the only area in our process that we truly consider a "trade secret". It's also very demanding and the materials themselves are difficult to work with. If the old material were available, we'd jump back to using it in a minute!

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Subject: Sound differences between 330 and 360 models

Date: 2000/1/13

Question: Is there a difference in sound between the 330 and the 360 models?

Answer: Well, the 330 is a bit more acoustic, and that is reflected somewhat in the plugged-in sound. The 360 has quite a bit more wood at the edges, while the 330 is routed out quite a bit more. This is just a guess, but the interior air volume of a 330 if probably 15% greater than a 360, and only some of that comes from having a fully developed lower bout. It's not a huge difference but it IS noticeable.

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Subject: Biggest Rickenbacker Sellers

Date: 2000/1/25

Question: I know John Hall has no reason to post his sales figures, but does anyone have any idea of which CURRENT production Rickenbackers are the best sellers? Which don't do so well? I always wanted to know if ANY are simply hard sells. I know the factory is usually backordered, and can't do custom because of this. But are all the the main line models models in such demand?

Answer: The 330 is the biggest seller, followed quite closely by the 360, and 4003. Those three alone make up about 70% of our sales. The rest is fairly even spread across the line, including the Vintage Reissue Series. Within that specific series, the 325v63 is the clear winner, followed by the 381's. Honestly, there are no "tough sells" until you get to some odd color and trim options. Everything sells in reasonable quantity to support production and we're either really blessed or totally cursed in this regard, compared to some of our competitors; it's nice to have cross-the-board support but at the same time it spread production across a wide range of models. This varies quite a bit from country to country, and to a lesser extent, region to region. There are pockets such as Japan and Florida where the Vintage Series is king, while the U.K., Australia, and the US Midwest favor the newest models. The major chain stores, unfortunately, typically won't handle more than 36 SKU's from any guitar maker, so as they increase the overall volume, they diminish the variety. That theoretically leaves the "specialty" business open for the smaller dealers but generally they opt instead to try to compete with the big guys by giving deeper discounts on "standard" goods, forcing themselves out of business.

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Subject: Neck through Construction

Date: 2000/1/31

Question: Have Rickenbacker ever offered a neck-through-body semi-hollowbody 6 or 12 string guitar?

Answer: We've never made a neck-through semi-hollow body that I'm aware of.

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Subject: Neck Block Construction

Date: 2000/1/31

Question: Does Rickenbacker employ a technique with a longer neck block or do they use standard industry methods for set-in necks?

Answer: Our neck block is VERY different that other guitars. Actually, it's not a block at all, but a pocket routed into the top from behind, before the back goes on it. It's quite a complicated joint with ridges for adhesion and reservoirs to relieve the hydraulic compression of the glue. Also, it extends almost to the bridge, to provide the best sound transference.

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