1964 Rickenbacker Rose Morris 1997
To the uninitiated, Rickenbacker’s model numbering system can be a bit of a maze.The 1997 model was made for Rose Morris who was the European distributor for Rickenbacker in the early 1960s and it was the equivalent to the company’s Model 335 – with the 1998, another export model, being the three-pickup version, equivalent to the USA 345. Still with us? Over to Phil Carwardine at Vintage And Modern Guitars… “The 1996 was the Lennon short-scale three-pickup jobby and this is the 1997 two-pickup. The John Lennon baby one; I think they made 21 or 22, so they’re really quite rare. Then there’s the 1998, which is the [full-size] three-pickup version – Pete Townshend had both, I think, as did Denny Laine who was with The Moody Blues at the time,” he tells us.
The 1997’s spec comprised a maple semi-hollow body with a double cutaway and a bi-level pickguard. One characteristic that distinguishes the export model from the US version is the f-hole – on American Rickenbackers, this would have been the more familiar curved traditional shape.
According to our sources, only 101 of the 1995 models (based on the US Model 615) were sold, making it quite a rare bird – but there are features that are even less frequently seen. On some models, the position of the f-hole is more ‘two o’clock’ than the more common ‘one o’clock’ position.“They go on about the ‘two o’ clock f-hole’,” says Phil.“I think there were around eight made with a two o’clock f-hole. They’re incredibly rare.”
The 1997 here looks like it has been a resident of the UK for some time.“This model has a sticker on the back that says ‘Minns Southampton’, which is quite nice, thinking that it’s been in the UK all this time…” says Phil. Our thanks to Phil Carwardine at Vintage And Modern Guitars for allowing us access to this instrument. www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk
The f-hole on the export 1997s was the more classical type, as opposed to the more familiar curved variety – this particular one is a ‘one o’clock’ type Rickenbacker’s vibrato system was fairly rudimentary, the arm itself being little more than a piece of bent metal – but it worked! The Rickenbacker logo here would normally reflect the shape of the f-hole. Not so on the export versions, which sport the more classical variety PickuPs Rickenbacker’s ‘toaster’ pickups were responsible for the guitar’s familiar jangle on many pop hits during the early 1960s, and were the choice of many players from the Britpop era F-hole Vibrato headstock