Johnny Ramone’s CBGB-Era Rickenbacker Is Up for Auction

Ramone acquired his 450 in 1977 and used it throughout the late Seventies and into the early Eighties.
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By Christopher Scapelliti

Johnny Ramone’s personally owned and used 1966 Rickenbacker 450 is up for auction.

The guitar, which you can see in the gallery below, goes on the auction block on September 28 at 1 p.m. ET courtesy of RR Auction.

As a fan of the Beatles, Ramone was eager to purchase a Rickenbacker. He acquired his 450 guitar in 1977 and used it throughout the late Seventies, during the group’s time performing at CBGB in New York City’s East Village, and into the early Eighties. This Rickenbacker is the second-oldest documented guitar belonging to Ramone. All of his earlier guitars were stolen in 1977, except for this guitar and his white Mosrite, which was also purchased in 1977.

Ramone’s Rickenbacker 450 has a Fireglo finish and features a higher-output bridge pickup. Ramone removed the original Rickenbacker bridge pickup and replaced it with a hotter Stratocaster pickup to help him achieve the aggressive sound required for the Ramones’ music. The guitar has its original Kluson Deluxe tuners, and the bridge is stamped with the serial number FA180. Ramone’s aggressive playing style loosened the bridge over time, and it’s secured to the body with small brads.

Ramone preferred to keep this guitar with him at home rather than in the band’s storage facility. He stored it under his bed at his apartment on New York City’s 10th Street and, later, at his 22nd Street apartment when the band was between tours and after the guitar’s retirement. 

The guitar shows extensive wear from use, including dings and wear to the finish and a large area of buckle rash to the back. The auction includes Ramone’s original hard case for the guitar, stenciled “Ramones” on both sides by Ramones art director Arturo Vega. The guitar is accompanied by letters of provenance from longtime Ramones tour manager Monte A. Melnick, Johnny Ramone’s guitar technician Matt Loyla, Ramones crew member and tour assistant Warren Cohen, Ramones photographer and gear expert Ian Harper, and Chris Lamy, close friend of the Ramones and guitarist of the Jabbers.

For more information and photos, visit Pre-live online bidding on this item ends September 27 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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