- neck-through construction, open soundholes in the style of Thin Line instruments
- Canadian golden rosewood fingerboard (the golder, the better)
- 1-piece = neck and body made of selected sycamore maple
- 6 SCHALLER tuners
- one 3-position selector switch
- 5 knobs, with the famous 5th allowing for hi- and low-end EQ depending on which direction you turn it (clockwise for more high frequencies with the high switch position, counter-clockwise for more lows with the bass switch, and full-on with the know full-on, tone and volume, vith balanced frequencies)
- one Rickenbacker 33nf condenser half ceramic/ half paper oil
- Modern "R" bridge
- 2 modern Rickenbacker pickups
- 2 rosewood bands incrusted in the wood at the back of the neck
- tuning keys
- Rickenbacker-branded case, cloth and leaflet
- coming straight from the USA (the shop brought it back from there, my guitar was originally intended for the U.S. domestic market)
2. The instrument itself
I bought it in 2016. It was out of the Rickenbacker factories and originally manufactured to be a demonstration guitar at the famous 2009 Los Angeles show. Made according to the specs of the brand’s American customers, requiring a better woodwork and construction, better chosen woods and genuine golden rosewood. I already own another comparable Rickenbacker – a 660 which can’t be found in Europe, where I live. The shop where I bought it took it straight from over there. A real difference shows between my guitars and the models aimed at being exported for the European market. Soundwise, the pickups are not better however, they’re the same and the knobs and tuners are a little harder to action.
3. Use and sound
Tried on tube MARSHALL and NOS 2 heads and cabs, as well as a MESABOOGIE LONESTAR, with a Fender-type reverb. On the MARSHALL and NOS’s overdriven channels, the sound is fatter, very blues rock-oriented, ala ZZ TOP with a psyche/fuzzy sound. In clean mode on the MESA it’s as good as 65 DELUXE REVERB, still the 65 is better in clean with that kind of instrument. On my PRINCETON REVERB, you definitely get a 60s psyche sound, fuzzy but with a great clean sound. You can go from jazz to blues, to blues rock, to pop, to “old school” British rock, to more modern British rock, to early AC/DC hard/heavy, to GUNS’N’ROSES-heavy style – all in a breeze.
Let’s make it clear, we’re not talking about the British Invasion sound, but the sound remains warm, hot, but you need the right amp. For instance I find the sound on modern VOX amps to remain rather cold, while FENDERs and MARSHALLs deliver something warm, dry and mellow on the FENDER e.g.
Everything’s perfect on this instrument, as it was made to be a demonstration instrument in one of thae world’s most famous shows. The sound is very warm, hot, and as the owner of a 2012 Rickenbacker I can tell this one’s sound is way warmer than the one from 2012, and very close from that of my 660 from the same year (2009) – although the 660 is equipped with Toasters.
Compared with the 2012 model, the central stick is thicker, and the neck goes farther through into the body compared with the 2012 guitar which neck feels more like half-through than neck-through, as can be found on 620s and 660s.
I'll complement later with pictures.
Updated review from March 5, 2016:
A very good guitar, with the lows very much more defined than on a European market Rickenbacker export, you’re close specswise to one of the brand’s US 660s, but with additional midrange. While the pickups are not Toasters like is the case for the 660, it is much more vintage-sounding than other models which can be found here in Europe, and while it still doesn’t provide the original British Invasion sound, you get close to a very good Les Paul. Perfect for heavy/Led Zep, with a good overdriven sound. A solo-playing friend tried it, it really rocks, so beware of the neighbours, better try it in your rehearsal room if I can give you an advice.
In summer 2001, I got the idea to buy a new guitar, because I was bored of my very cheap Yamaha Strat-wannabe, so I looked around to find out, which guitars the Beatles played (my favorite group). I noticed, theyd played lots of Rickenbackers and I was very pleased about the body-styling. I first looked for a 325 (the famous short-scale, John Lennon played), but when I heard about the price (ca. 2000$), the dream of a Rickenbacker went up in smoke. I went to serveral of my local dealers and asked if they had RICs. At Musik Renz (my favorite musical instruments dealer) I played a german RIC look-a-like and was very pleased with the fretboard. I serched the internet (in between, I was informed that there wasnt a RIC distributor in germany anymore) and asked serveral US dealers about shipping charges, etc. but they told me, RIC would never allow to sell guitars from USA to Germany. I found one who would have sold one used, but after a while he didnt answer to my mails anymore. I was told by my dealer, he had a RIC 330 in red with black hardware in the storage in his other shop for 2900 DM (about 1450$ then). I asked my grandma for some money and then on my 16th birthday on 1st of september this beauty was mine.
As far as Im thinking, the music of the 60s is the best ever made, this guitar the best I could have buyed. I am using it in my band as a rhythm-player, but it has also a nice and warm distortion with a good tube amp. The fingerboard is slightly thinner than a Fender Strats, but its the best for playing rhyhtm-guitar, very low action and a fast neck with a very nice carve. The tone is very 60s like, with nice trebles and a ringing sustain, all that makes that so called Rickenbacker jangle. The guitar has a tone and a volume control for each pickup and a three-way toggle-switch (neck PU only, both or bridge PU only), completed by a fifth knob which could be discribed as a master tone control. The styling is one of the best stylings Ive ever seen. Lots of people on the concerts of my band ask about this guitar and which brand it is, because its absolutely different from Stratocaster- or Les Paul-styling.
The only thing I dont like on this guitar is the neck pickup, because its a bit muddy. I use it only in combination with the bridge pickup.
This is a semi-hollow body with a 1½ thick body and two pickups. The finish is the best Ive ever seen, the clear-laquer is very thick and nearly mirror-like and absolutely plain. To me, no more expensive Gibson has that quality and the 330 is only a standart model, but there arent any cheap, i.e. low quality guitars at Rickenbacker.
Rickenbackers are the best, to me, as I am preferring 60s music. The best guitars to buy for old-fashioned guitar players, because you cant get that Rickenbacker sound without having a Rickenbacker. Today, RICs are hardly to be seen in up-to-date-bands, because you cant get that trash-metal distortion with a RIC, but for 60s like guitar players a must-have (for Beatles, Byrds, etc. likers anyway).
The Rickenbacker 330 is an electric guitar that has a semi hollow body with just one opening in the body. The guitar has 24 frets and has two hi gain single coil pick ups. It has standard setting controls for volume and tone and a pick up selector switch as well. The neck is made out of maple and the fingerboard is made of rosewood, making for a long neck that is thin and easy to play.
Playing up and down the neck of the Rickenbacker 330 is a breeze, as overall I find the guitar very easy to play. I do like playing chords on this guitar over playing lead, but both are pretty easily done as it is easy to reach the top notes. The weight of the 330 is pretty light, and has a very cool looking body, a selling point that has made the Rickenbacker brand quite famous and renown. The sounds possible are pretty varied, but across the board the guitar has a great inherent tone.
I have used the Rickenbacker 330 only one time for a recording session. I used it with a Vox AC30 and wasn't the player for the session, but was engineering a session for someone else. I was overall very impressed with the sounds that we got for the session. While of course a good deal of this had to do with his playing abilities, but I also played around with it a good deal playing it myself, and found that I was able to get comparable sounds even though the session player was a bit more experienced than myself. The tones are rich and creamy speaking in generalities, but there is a good deal of space here for experimenting with the different pick ups and setting controls.
The Rickenbacker 330 is just one of those guitars that you marvel at its design. It has an incredibly cool and retro look to it, which is a look that I believe has been unchanged over the years. The guitar certainly isn't cheap, but I'm sure that most of you will be expecting this type of price for a top tier guitar like this one is. This is the type of guitar that you want to save up for and is one that should last a lifetime if treated properly. I'd recommend that those who have any interest in the 330 to check it out at your local guitar shop, as most of them should have them on hand. This is a great choice for an all purpose electric guitar for the experienced player, but isn't for everyone.