The Beatles' Secret Weapon: George Harrison’s 1963 Rickenbacker 360/12
George Harrison's 1963 Rickenbacker 360-12
Although the last thing the red-hot Beatles needed in early 1964 was a “secret weapon,” that’s exactly what they got when George Harrison received his first Rickenbacker 12-string, in a beautiful Fireglo finish, in February of that year, during the Beatles’ first U.S. tour.
The guitar was given to him by Francis C. Hall, owner and president of the California-based Rickenbacker company, which is now celebrating its 80th anniversary.
Hall spoke to Brian Epstein before the Beatles arrived in the U.S. and arranged a meeting with the group. On February 8 at the Savoy Hilton in New York City, he showed the band several different models. Lennon tried out the 360/12 but thought it would be better for Harrison, who was sick in bed at the Plaza Hotel. When Harrison finally got to see it, he loved it immediately.
“Straight away I liked that you knew exactly which string was which,” Harrison said, referring to how the guitar’s 12 tuners are grouped in top- and side-mounted pairs on the headstock. “[On some] 12-strings, you spend hours trying to tune it.”
Harrison’s first 360/12 was the second Rickenbacker 12-string ever made; its serial number — CM107 — dates it to December 1963. The main difference between it and the prototype is how they are strung. The first model had a conventional 12-string setup, in which the octave string is the first to be struck in each string pair. On Harrison’s model and subsequent Rickenbacker 12-strings, the octave strings occur second in the string pairs and the lower-pitched string is struck first.
Harrison’s guitar has a trapeze tailpiece, triangle inlays, double white pickguards, black control knobs and mono and stereo (Rick-O-Sound) outputs mounted on a chrome plate on the side of the guitar.
The guitar, with its unique, chiming sound, can be heard on the bulk of the A Hard Day’s Night album, “I Call Your Name,” “What You’re Doing” — and several other songs, up to and including “Ticket to Ride.” His second 360/12, a 1965 model with rounded cutaways, is heard on “If I Needed Someone.”
This is just a Rickenbacker 325-sized (small) taste of what you'll find in the new Holiday 2011 issue of Guitar World magazine; it's the ultimate guide to the recordings, songs and gear of the Beatles. For more info about the new issue, head to the Guitar World Online Store.
Photo: Nigel Osbourne / Redferns / Getty Images
You Might Also Like...
9 hours 26 min ago
10 hours 32 min ago
14 hours 7 min ago
15 hours 58 min ago
16 hours 6 min ago
16 hours 42 min ago
16 hours 51 min ago
In the Magazine
Most Commented Articles
Guitar World on Facebook
Guitar World On Twitter
GuitarWorld RT @bradangle: @JasonCNewsted just dropped by @GuitarWorld office & immediately tagged our conference room wall t.co/qyxjsc0Kxc
GuitarWorld Lesson: Learning Paganini's 16th Caprice in G Minor, Part 2 t.co/x0N0Zpf1JC Includes tablature. @WillWallner
GuitarWorld Listen: @Megadeth Premiere New Song, "Kingmaker" t.co/41XIqqcRWS #NowPlaying
GuitarWorld Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington Performs and Releases Single with Stone Temple Pilots t.co/gmMewM5Plf
GuitarWorld Video: @OfficialSabbath Release Behind-the-Scenes Footage of Making of '13' Cover Art t.co/vVPNuvm45U #Fire #13
GuitarWorld Photo Gallery: Top 10 Weirdest Custom Guitars t.co/v8RsI88FEW