There’s no mistaking the flared bouts, trademark slash cut-out and rounded body of the Rickenbacker 335 Capri electric guitar. Similar to iconic Fender and Gibson designs, Rickenbacker’s 335 Capri is easily recognized, which is the mark of a true classic.
An American pioneer in the field of electric guitars since 1931, the 335 Capri is merely one of many legendary electric six-string axes from Rickenbacker. Renowned guitar whiz Roger McGuinn perfected his well known Byrds “jingle-jangle” with a Rickenbacker and the Beatles were famous for using “Ricks” in their early days.
Rickenbacker’s Capri is a 50s baby boomer
The 335 Capri is a fine example of Rickenbacker quality when it comes to the mass production of musical instruments. For a perspective into the Capri line of vintage products, a brief history is offered on the company website:
“Perhaps the best known 1950s Rickenbacker’s were the hollow body 6-string Capri models, introduced in 1958. Designed for the most part by Roger Rossmeisl, there were three categories, each distinguished by a different body style. The first group had 2-inch-thick double-cutaway bodies, while the second group had 3 1/2-inch thick single-cutaway bodies. The third grouping was a catch-all category for instruments with even deeper bodies, including pure acoustics. All Capri styles came with or without Vibrato and with either two or three pickups.”
What’s in a number?
The 1959 335 Capri falls under Rickenbacker’s memorable 300 series of guitars. As with any “Rick,” a model number ending in “5” means the vibrato option has been installed, a choice no longer available. The 335 was basically a 330 with a vibrato unit added.
What price a classic?
If one can be located, a vintage 335 Capri sells for at least $5,000. Can’t afford the price tag? Then try the next best thing, a brand new 330. Rickenbacker has kept tradition going with retro colors and finishes, including “Fireglo,” “Jetglo” and “Mapleglo.” But beauty is only skin deep.
The current Rickenbacker 330 is semi-acoustic, the same as the 335. Full double cut away shoulders and maple body, set-in neck and rosewood fingerboard are also consistent with the 1959 original. 24 frets, dot inlays, bridge and neck pick-ups, its 24 3/4″ scale length and distinctive headstock lend themselves to the long-established Rickenbacker aura.
What are not on the newer 330s are the chunky control knobs, the lower output “Toaster” pick-ups and the distinctive vibrato arm that were all part of the 1959 edition. Cost for a current Rickenbacker 330 will set you back $2,000.
Either way, the rare find or the contemporary classic, Rickenbacker’s 335 Capri is an exceptional guitar that carries a high asking price. As a result, this particular music tradition may not be accessible by everyone.
Editor’s Note: A little about RickenBacker Guitars
Rickenbacker Electro Instruments was the first guitar company to concentrate solely on electric guitars.
Along with George Beauchamp and a few others, they started making the very first all-electric guitars.
If you are interested in the history of Rickenbacker guitars as well as electric guitars in general, this article is a must read!
Musicians who have used the Rickenbacker:
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Stones, Townsend, The Bangles, U2, Beach Boys, Tom Petty, REM, The Pretenders, The Smiths, and many more.