Guitar Aficionado

Guitar Collection: Roger McGuinn's 1964 Rickenbacker 360-12

In the hands of Roger McGuinn, this Rickenbacker electric twelve-string guitar provided the signature sound for the Byrds and, moreover, marked the merging of folk and rock music in the mid 1960s.
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In the hands of Roger McGuinn, this Rickenbacker electric twelve-string guitar provided the signature sound for the Byrds and, moreover, marked the merging of folk and rock music in the mid 1960s.

This fall, Epic Ink will unveil The Guitar Collection, a lavishly oversized tome showcasing the most culturally important, historically significant, and visually stunning guitars ever made, from Billy Gibbons’ “Pearly Gates” 1959 Gibson Les Paul, to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Number One” 1962 Fender Stratocaster, to Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” 1964 Gibson ES-335TDC. Presented in a custom-made leather guitar-style case, this package is a superb collector’s limited edition that is a fitting homage to these instruments from the world’s most exclusive public and private collections.

Guitar Aficionado’s Nov/Dec issue, on stands soon, contains an in-depth story on the making of this ambitious new tome as well an excerpt of the guitars featured within. As an added bonus, we’ll be spotlighting one more legendary instrument from the Collection here every Wednesday.

Copies of the book are available at www.theguitarcollectionbook.com as well at select high-end retailers like John Varvatos.

And now, without further ado…

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Rickenbacker 360-12
Made in 1964 and played by Roger McGuinn

From the collection of Experience Music Project

In the hands of Roger McGuinn, this Rickenbacker electric twelve-string guitar provided the signature sound for the Byrds and, moreover, marked the merging of folk and rock music in the mid 1960s.

Inspired by George Harrison’s use of a Rickenbacker twelve-string (the company’s very first twelve-string) in the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, McGuinn bought one for himself in early 1965. It was originally a model 360-12, with two pickups, but in 1966 he sent it back to the factory to have an extra pickup installed, making it a model 370-12. At the same time, the factory added a compressor, controlled by the mini-switch in the pickguard. To avoid the extra-long headstock that most twelve-strings require, Rickenbacker staggered the tuner mountings on the back and the side of the headstock. Rickenbacker also reversed the typical configuration of the octave string pairs so that the player’s downstroke hit the low string first. The result was a unique sound that made McGuinn’s opening figure on “Mr. Tambourine Man” instantly recognizable.

This guitar was stolen in 1966 at a Byrds concert at Fordham University in New York and didn’t resurface again until the statute of limitations expired. McGuinn immediately ordered another 370-12 in Mapleglo (Rickenbacker’s name for natural finish) and continued to set the standard for twelve-string guitar in rock music

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