The Beatles: John Lennon and his 1964 Rickenbacker 325

1964 Rickenbacker 325 Jetglo; Serial #DB122

This updated, solid-top 325 was designed with Lennon in mind but not yet ready when Rickenbacker president F. C. Hall arrived in New York to meet with the Beatles before their Ed Sullivan debut. Hall had heard about the British band using his guitars, and had tracked down Brian Epstein, and arranged a private meeting, to which Epstein, probably with an eye toward replacing Lennon’s battered Hamburg 325, readily agreed. (To this meeting Hall also brought an electric 12-string, which the group schlepped over to an ailing George Harrison, and a prototype Model 4001 bass, which Paul McCartney passed on, for some reason). Lennon’s new 325 — updated with an extra fine-tune knob, double-layered pickguard, improved vibrato and slimmer body — was shipped to Lennon at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach in time for rehearsals for the second Sullivan broadcast and immediately took over from the “Hamburg” 325 as Lennon’s workhorse; it saw action right up until late ’65 tours, after which it served as a backup. Temporarily out of action after Lennon dropped it at the Hammersmith Odeon during a ’64 Christmas show. First album use: A Hard Day’s Night. On display at the John Lennon Museum in Japan, where it still has a nasty crack in the headstock, near the machine heads.

Photo courtesy of Frank Trevino

Lennon’s ’64 Rick still has cello tape on it from the ’65 tour set list. Lennon bent the vibrato arm, presumably to get it out of his way. When this model went into production it sold for about £400. Rickenbacker has introduced a faithful replica, the 325C63.

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