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Rickenbacker, a distinguished name in guitars for more than 80 years, is forever attached to the early sounds of the Beatles, 60s Byrds’ picker extraordinaire, Roger McGuinn, as well as many other celebrated music greats. The renowned Rickenbacker legacy continues with model 620.
In the company of a 620, the music possibilities are endless.Whether it’s the pop infused sound of the Bangles’ Susannah Hoffs, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s southern countryish flair or the no nonsense rock vibe from the Smithereens’ Pat DiNizio, in the right hands, the Rickenbacker 620, manufactured in Santa Ana, California, can be a persuasive melody maker.
Ride the wave and harness the power
The 620’s appeal begins with its unusual shape. Described by Rickenbacker as a “Cresting Wave,” the novel 50s solid body has an unmistakable profile. The lower bout, at the bottom of the “Wave,” is gently sloped while the upper bout, at the “Crest,” presents a sweeping shoulder maintaining full fret access in true cutaway fashion.
A distinctive finish, conveyed through organically vibrant colors, available in smooth “Fireglo,” “Jetglo” and “Mapleglo” options, also lends to the 620’s unique visual appeal. What’s more, the proviso listed on the Rickenbacker website is a reassuring stipulation that points to the quality craftsmanship and actual human beings behind the famed guitar maker’s products:
“Instrument Color May Vary Due To the Hand Finishing Process”
The box, neck and length
Maple, the fundamental tonewood of the 620’s body and fully bound 21 fret neck, is teamed with a rosewood fingerboard. The thru body neck plan, accented with white ivoroid triangle inlays, is consistent with the triangular inspired “Rickenbacker” in the headstock logo.
Rickenbacker discusses neck construction methods online:
“While many competitive necks are made of only two or three wood sections, Rickenbacker necks typically are made with a minimum of four, with some models having as many as eleven separate wood laminations. This provides the greatest strength and resistance to warping or twisting.”
With a scale length of 24-3/4″and a distance end to end of 37″, the 620 weighs in at a sturdy 8 lbs.
At the heart of a “Rick”
Potentiometers, jacks and all Rickenbacker circuitry is American made. Two Hi-gain pick-ups at the neck and bridge offer vintage resonance only found in a Rickenbacker. The output type on the 620, in mono and stereo, adds a nostalgic buzz.
With the exception of the Schaller machine heads, most parts are made by Rickenbacker.
The six saddle bridge is a fairly common sight, though the “R” tailpiece on the 620 is a one-of-a-kind Rickenbacker trait. Output blending is done by way of five control knobs and a toggle switch.
What’s in a name?
The modern history and philosophy of Rickenbacker, which goes by the name RIC, is discussed on the company’s website:
“Today the manufacturing and distribution of Rickenbacker guitars and basses is combined into RIC, the name used since F.C. Hall retired in September 1984 and John Hall, along with his wife Cindalee, became the sole owners of the company. RIC retains the spirit of first-class pre-1965 electric guitar manufacturing and craftsmanship.”
F. C. Hall, born Francis C., purchased the guitar maker in 1953 from Adolph Rickenbacker.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a Rickenbacker 620 with Fireglo finish is $1,829. That might be a bit steep, but how do you place a value on tradition.