Rickenbacker 330 Models/Changes

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Rickenbacker 330 Models/Changes

Post by akpasta »

Always been looking around for a decent 330 6-string in the $2k range. They pop up on reverb from time to time. Sometimes you can catch an early 80s Rick on reverb for just as cheap as a later 80s, 90s, etc. and snag a model that's technically "vintage" but way cheaper. So I'm trying to figure out when some of these model changes took place. For instance, I'm a big fan of the more rounded fret board radius. When did they switch from a more rounded one to the modern flatter one? Also I've read there's something in the pickup switching/knobs of the "vintage" ones (not sure on year), a hi-pass filter cap or something that makes them sound more trebly or jangly. Is that a "thing" that matters much? I know I can always swap out the hi-gains for 7.4 scatterwound toasters, so that's fine. I've also read somethin bout' neck bracing, but I dunno, does that make a difference?

Any thoughts would be cool. Thx!
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Re: Rickenbacker 330 Models/Changes

Post by collin »

The "dividing" line to what are generally considered modern Rickenbackers is 1984, when John Hall bought the Rickenbacker brand from his father, and formed Rickenbacker International Corp (RIC).

This key event ushered in a number of significant changes to the models.

For the 330, by the mid-80s, they switched to larger sealed tuners which led to an enlarged headstock profile that lasted clear until 2010 or so. The fretboard might be slightly flatter from the mid-80s onward but not drastically so. The "vintage" spec is 7.25" radius, but I can't recall if that existed into the 1980s.

Generally though, 330 models up until 1983 or so are usually prized because of their association with Paul Weller of the Jam and Johnny Marr of the Smiths - both of whom played early 80s 330s.

You may save a few bucks buying a mid-late 80s model, but honestly I don't think these are fundamentally better than the brand new 330 models being produced today. There isn't some vintage mojo with a mid-80s Rick (different story with a 60s Rick, though). The quality has been consistently good since the mid-80s, but I much prefer the current specs, in terms of neck profile, headstock shape, adjustable hi gains, finish and other aspects.
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Re: Rickenbacker 330 Models/Changes

Post by ChuckEds »

I've got a 2012 330 and it's got everything you'd expect, bright and jangly with great tone and sustain. According to RIC the current fretboard radius is 10".

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Re: Rickenbacker 330 Models/Changes

Post by rkbsound »

I have to agree that right now it might be better to spend a little more on a new 330. I personally love a good, worn, used Rickenbacker that shows battle scars, but the prices of used Ricks seem a bit high. I think if my 330 was stolen I’d just buy a new one since it’s so hard to find a bargain these days. But looking for a bargain is great sport! Also, for just a few dollars less for a used Rick there is no warranty.
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Re: Rickenbacker 330 Models/Changes

Post by drumbob »

Yes, the hunt for Rickenbackers is half the fun, and I have always been able to find what I wanted at the right price, but it always took quite a while-sometimes weeks-of constant searching to find the guitar at a great price. I have done nationwide searches on Craigslist and that has worked for me. Rickenbacker prices on Reverb (the home of Delusional Sellers On Drugs, as I call it) and Ebay are crazy since COVID. I'm glad I bought all of mine before prices got out of hand.
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