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325, ’64

Fireglo, Serial number DG894.

F.C. Hall, owner of Radio & Television Equipment Co. (Radio-Tel) purchased the Electro String Company from Adolph Rickenbacker in1953. Hall overhauled the business and began focusing on standard electric guitars rather than the steel guitars the company pioneered. By 1958 he developed a new line of thin hollow-body electric guitars known as the Capri series (named after the Hall family’s cat). German born guitar maker Roger Rossmeisl (hired in 1954), was responsible for the unique design of these instruments. This distinctive look continues in most Rickenbackers to this day. The Capri series consisted of Models 310-375. Models ending in zero had no vibrato, while those ending in the number five had one.

 

The first Capri model announced was the three-quarter size 325. This petite, lightweight guitar didn’t achieve its intended popularity until it was seen being used by John Lennon of the Beatles. Lennon acquired his natural finish 1958 325 while the Beatles were in Hamburg, Germany. The Beatles’ growing popularity caused a sudden demand for Rickenbacker guitars (initially in England). To meet this need, the British company Rose, Morris became Rickenbacker distributors. The export version of the 325 was known in Rose, Morris’ catalog as the Model 1996. It, like most other export models had a Fireglo finish, and a traditional F sound hole. Lennon used one of these as a backup to his more famous solid top Jetglo (black) 1964 325.

 

The other rock ‘n roll legend known for using a 325 is John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. His Fireglo 325 can be heard playing searing lead on CCR’s covers of “Suzie Q” and “I Put a Spell on You”. The hollow body of the Rickenbacker combined with his Kustom amp produced a musical controlled feedback on both the recorded and live versions of these songs.

 

The 1964 325 pictured has the features most often associated with the export Rose, Morris Model 1996. These include: a one-piece three-quarter scale maple neck with an unbound twenty one fret lacquer finished rosewood fingerboard, three “toaster” single coil pickups, a hollow maple body, F shaped sound hole, and Ac’cent vibrato tailpiece.

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