How Rickenbacker evolved into one of the most iconic guitar brands in music history

(Image credit: Future)

Some 90 years ago, guitarist George Beauchamp (pronounced ‘BEE-chum’) invented the world’s first commercially viable electric guitar, which – along with its ‘horseshoe’ pickup – sparked a revolution in guitar design and sounds. 

With his fellow National String Instrument Corporation associates Paul Barth and Adolph Rickenbacher, George promptly formed the Ro-Pat-In company in order to take his new invention to market with a focus on electric Spanish guitars and lap steels. It was soon to become known as the Electro String Instrument Corporation, and the firm eventually settled on the more familiar Rickenbacker name (an anglicised version of Adolph Rickenbacher’s Swiss surname). 

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.