Pick of the Month - December 2000
1964 Rickenbacker model '1996'

My summer of 1983 was a good one for vintage Ricks... less than a month after finding Miss November, this turned up in a junk shop (appropriately enough) in Swindon. Scruffy and neglected, and with a faulty pick-up, it nonetheless had all its original parts - including the dinky silver case - so I was quite happy to hand over the £150 asking price.

This is the "export" version of the U.S. model 325, the U.K. style sporting a larger f-hole than its domestic counterpart, as specified by importers Rose-Morris. The Beatles once again had created a huge demand for this instrument, as John Lennon had used an original 1958 non-f-hole-with-gold-plastic version on virtually all their early records.

It's a tribute to his genius that, equipped only with this and a humble Vox AC30 amp, he took music as we knew it into another dimension and changed the world. Me, I can scarcely get anything usable out of it at all…the tiny, short-scale neck and cheapo tremolo tail-piece, combined with those skinny toaster-top pick-ups, create a sound that I would describe as twank.

But there is something undeniably cool about it; plenty of naïve 'sixties charm, the Rickenbacker trade-mark Fire-Glo sunburst, with the back featuring two nicely-figured pieces of curly birds-eye maple.

This guitar has been re-fretted and the fingerboard re-lacquered, and the faulty pick-up has been replaced by a new one (though the original cover remains). Fans of the Dukes Of Stratosphear who are head-phone freaks can delight in the sound of the original pick-up coil crackling merrily away during the jaunty intro to "Vanishing Girl".

Thanks to Mick Wareham (again) for putting me on to this one.

Recording debut: XTC - Wake Up!  (March 1984)
Featured on XTC's I Bought Myself A Liar Bird (slide lines!) and Vanishing Girl by the Dukes Of Stratosphear.