Guitar: 1959 Rickenbacker Model 335 Capri Vintage

Adolph Rickenbacker

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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

Adolph RickenbackerIn 1931 Adolph Rickenbacker started the Rickenbacker guitar company, at the time called “Rickenbacker Electro Instruments”.

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.

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Paul Wolfle

As a vintage and contemporary music enthusiast, guitars dominate Paul’s life. He plays slide in open tunings on a National Steel Tricone resonator and electric blues, in standard tuning, on an assortment of other instruments including his white Fender Stratocaster.

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