Anyone have experience with a Rickenbacker 330?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by MichaelRopp, Nov 24, 2021.

  1. MichaelRopp

    MichaelRopp Electromatic

    Jan 20, 2021
    Hey, all. My apologies for the completely non-Gretsch post, but I've found this group to be a great source of info for all things guitar and thought maybe someone could offer some insights here.

    Does anyone here have experience with the Rickenbacker 330 semi-hollow? I'm being tempted by a 330W but unfortunately it's a situation where I can't lay hands on it to test it out before buying, and they're darn expensive. I'm primarily interested to know two things.
    One: what are their necks like? I haven't yet been able to find 330 neck dimensions online. Ricky bass necks tend to be on the chunky side; does that hold true for the 330 also?
    Two: how well do they hold up over time? Again my own experience is with Rickenbacker's basses, and those, while a blast to play, awesome to look at and cool to hear, do have a higher-than-average tendency to develop some issues over time, especially with bridges and electronics. Is anyone here a luthier or a long-time 330 player who could speak to this issue?

    Back in Black likes this.
  2. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    In all my years of playing , I've never tried a Ric . But I did hear the necks are in the thin side ... I could be wrong , but I know theres some love for the Ric here on the forum so I'm sure someone will come along soon who knows better than I
    MichaelRopp likes this.
  3. Highroller

    Highroller Country Gent

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    Well, I've got one and love it.

    Necks are on the thin side, very fast. Keep in mind they've usually got lacquered fret boards*, which gives them a very different feel from most guitars. Fantastic neck access, similar to an SG, you can effortlessly get up to the 22nd fret. Solid construction, mine feels like a tank. It's not a delicate guitar.

    Ric's 5th knob, the "blend control", is a bit of a mystery to a lot of people, but it's a control to balance the output of the two pups, in that you can "blend" the neck pup down to the same output level of the bridge pup. Kind of a secondary volume control. I'll admit it's a weird idea, a real Rickenbacker idiosyncrasy, but you get used to it. I think most people find the sweet spot they like and leave it there.

    Mine's a '96, I bought it about 4 years ago in excellent condition and have had no issues with it whatsoever. I can't imagine why anybody would have bridge issues, they're a pretty solid design, but they are different from a tune-o-matic. And it does require an allen wrench to adjust the intonation. Some might consider that sort of a hassle. Don't lose your wrenches and you'll be fine!

    For a 25 year old guitar, it's holding up pretty well, imho! Definitely one of my favorites!


    *This is a practice Ric has apparently discontinued just this year, but if you're buying used, it'll most likely be lacquered.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  4. Back in Black

    Back in Black Country Gent

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada
    Hi Michael,

    Love mine...each and every one.

    Ric necks, with the exception of 12 strings, tend to have slender/shallow back necks, fast fretting and low action are definitely two of their attributes. Rickenbacker's proprietary Color-Glo finishes are very durable, and easy to maintain...stay away from auto polishes and waxes...I infrequently use ''Martin Professional Guitar Polish.

    All mine have vintage spec pickups (single coil/long magnet) with the exception of the 325 C58's which have 1958 spec single coil (short magnet ) pickups. The 900 has a very early version single coil/short magnet pickup.

    Any fine wood instrument will last indefinitely if properly cared for. I've never had an issue with Rickenbacker electronics or bridges.

    Shown, 370 RM/12, 1957 900, 360/12 V64, 325 C58, 325 V64, 325 V59, 1993 PT Plus/12, and there is another black 325 C58 not shown.

    The little 1957 900 is like new, untouched and still plays perfectly, that's 64 years old...I'd say that's ''holding up pretty well over time''

    Hope this helps.



    IMG_0225.JPG IMG_0226.JPG DSCF1415.JPG DSCF1416.JPG
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  5. gretschbigsby

    gretschbigsby Gretschie

    Nov 21, 2009
    Exceptionally well made American instruments. Nothing else like them in construction or tone.

    I've owned 15 or so over the years. Their necks vary somewhat, in my experience. I think there is human labor involved, so they aren't all the same.

    As far as the necks being thin, I haven't noticed much difference between a Ric neck and the current Gretsch electromatic line. I have a 60's Gretsch with a pencil neck. Modern Ric neck is definitely is fuller than 60's Gretsch.
    Highroller likes this.
  6. rot hodder

    rot hodder Electromatic

    Feb 6, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    I have a 2018 Fireglo 330. Very well made and quality instrument. Whilst it makes that classic Ric jangle, I find it pretty versatile and it would be a mistake to categorise it as only useful for that iconic sound.
    The smaller neck doesn't bother me either but I have small hands, for comparison the neck on my EVH Wolfgang STD is smaller.

    For mine, it's a keeper.
    Highroller likes this.
  7. juks

    juks Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    I have a 330 and 4001 and 4003. 1990s, 1970s and 1990s. They all were in a case for 20+ years when I did not play at all but did want to keep them. 4001 needed some cleaning of oxidation. The other two, nothing at all. They worked perfect then I took them out last year.

    330 neck is on the thin side but not too thin for me. They all sound great and on the bass side, ric is the best for me. There are other great guitars and the ric for me is among the top tier.

    They have their strange things as you probably know from the bass, but I don't mind. The sound is what I appreciate.

    When I took my 4001 to the luthier I has a discussion about re-fret. I've played it a lot back in the day. He told me that it's a nightmare as the frets have kind of zig zag pattern inside the fretboard. Who knows why? We opted against it as it's still well playable after all the playing I did with it.

    Yep, I'm a fan of their products.
    Highroller likes this.
  8. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Firenze, Italy
    I've had for years a 1989 Ric 335 with vintage specs (two Toasters pickups, vintage plexiglass logo instead of the white plastic one, Ric tremolo tailpiece). It was my main axe, and my guitar man modded the pickup wiring with the Jim Hall mode (basically a treble bleed, I remember) and cutted the blend knob off to connect the Toasters straight to the amp with no filters in between.
    It was a dream guitar to play, the neck was absolute joy (IMHO only the tele maple neck is easier and faster to play) and that Byrdsy/jangle sound on my Vox AC30cc was glorious. No feedback at all at any volume. The tremolo was ok (didn't really used it that much, but it stayed decently in tune... I suppose that a roller bridge would have helped do better). Sounded like a Tele on steroids.
    The only thing I've had difficult to deal with was the overdriven sound. I've tried many pedals (treble boosters, tube screamers, vox distrortion, tone bender, D+) but I've never been able to be completely satisfied by it (as for reference, I was trying to achieve a late '60s Who tone without deafening the audience, think Pictures of Lily or I Can See For Miles). The room I was playing in gave me totally different results each night and it was a PITA to tweak on the pedal board every single soundcheck. Most of the gigs I found myself not liking my tone in the middle of the set, and that has been a problem I've never been able to overcome.
    The 335 worked better with my Hiwatts but I really needed to play them very loud to achieve that sustain-filled, sparkling, saturated tone (even with master volume dimed), and that was most of the time impossible to do as I played bars, small clubs or pubs.
    Great guitar to play, not very versatile tone wise though. But it may be highly possible that was just me not being able to set it properly. I was a real punk at the time. :D
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  9. Stencil

    Stencil Gretschie

    Oct 19, 2009
    Gif-sur-Yvette, or the AF lounge

    I've owned a Ric 330/6 ands a Ric 360/12 since around 2008. I purchased them both new, in the States, from official dealers, at a time when Rickenbackers were clearly out of fashion. As a result, these are the two guitars I hold up to my partner as evidence that guitars can be a good investment. This pair is now worth, used, about 3 times what I paid for them new.

    Sadly, I don't play them, for the simple reason that the fretboard is too narrow. Yes, the neck is fairly chunky, but the fretboard is narrower -- even on the 360/12 -- than the fretboard on most 6-string guitars.

    So, for now I'm hanging onto these guitars, for a rainy day, as it were. Occasionally I pull them out of their cases, and play some Tom Petty, and some Jam, and then get frustrated that I can't fully take advantage of their beautiful tonal possibilities, due to the narrow necks.

    There's a lot more to be said about the Rickenbacker world, and Ric's somewhat obnoxious CEO, but I came across this assessment that I entirely concur with, so why re-invent the wheel?

    Good luck on your quest.


  10. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Apr 5, 2014
    I hung out on the Ric forums while I had my 430 (that I was forced to sell) and a recurring problem was the "R" style tailpiece randomly breaking. Sometimes inside the case.
    The pic below are Roger McGuinn's three that broke with no abuse.

    As with all things Ric, John Hall doesn't acknowledge the problem and refuses to change anything.

    Highroller likes this.
  11. Highroller

    Highroller Country Gent

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    Good article Stencil, enjoyed the post, but the bulk of it is discussing Ric 12-strings, which are entirely different beasts from the 330. Just sayin' ...

    I've got a Ric 12 string too, and yeah, it's a real love/hate relationship. That could be a whole thread on its own, so I wont go there right now, but the author makes some totally valid points. Ric 12's are oddballs. If they didn't sound so fantastic I don't thing many of us would put up with the BS that goes along with owning one!
  12. Highroller

    Highroller Country Gent

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    I'd imagine Roger's idea of "no abuse" is a little different from mine, but yeah, the tailpieces have been known to do that. Stuff breaks. You fix it. Apparently, it hasn't bothered him enough to throw away his Rics! Ha!

    (btw, I've never had to do it, but as I understand it, Ric is a little crazy about the distribution of those tailpieces. You can't just buy one, you have to register it thru Rickenbacker first. They don't want people slapping 'em on copies and counterfeits! )
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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