Guitar Collection: Roger McGuinn’s 1964 Rickenbacker 360-12

December 14th, 2011

This fall, Epic Ink will unveil The Guitar Collection, a lavishly oversized tome showcasing the most culturally important, historically significant, and visually stunning guitars ever made, from Billy Gibbons’ “Pearly Gates” 1959 Gibson Les Paul, to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Number One” 1962 Fender Stratocaster, to Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” 1964 Gibson ES-335TDC. Presented in a custom-made leather guitar-style case, this package is a superb collector’s limited edition that is a fitting homage to these instruments from the world’s most exclusive public and private collections.

Guitar Aficionado’s Nov/Dec issue, on stands soon, contains an in-depth story on the making of this ambitious new tome as well an excerpt of the guitars featured within. As an added bonus, we’ll be spotlighting one more legendary instrument from the Collection here every Wednesday.

Copies of the book are available at as well at select high-end retailers like John Varvatos.

And now, without further ado…

Rickenbacker 360-12
Made in 1964 and played by Roger McGuinn

From the collection of Experience Music Project

In the hands of Roger McGuinn, this Rickenbacker electric twelve-string guitar provided the signature sound for the Byrds and, moreover, marked the merging of folk and rock music in the mid 1960s.

Inspired by George Harrison’s use of a Rickenbacker twelve-string (the company’s very first twelve-string) in the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, McGuinn bought one for himself in early 1965. It was originally a model 360-12, with two pickups, but in 1966 he sent it back to the factory to have an extra pickup installed, making it a model 370-12. At the same time, the factory added a compressor, controlled by the mini-switch in the pickguard. To avoid the extra-long headstock that most twelve-strings require, Rickenbacker staggered the tuner mountings on the back and the side of the headstock. Rickenbacker also reversed the typical configuration of the octave string pairs so that the player’s downstroke hit the low string first. The result was a unique sound that made McGuinn’s opening figure on “Mr. Tambourine Man” instantly recognizable.

This guitar was stolen in 1966 at a Byrds concert at Fordham University in New York and didn’t resurface again until the statute of limitations expired. McGuinn immediately ordered another 370-12 in Mapleglo (Rickenbacker’s name for natural finish) and continued to set the standard for twelve-string guitar in rock music


  • Three factual errors:
    1. Roger did not buy the guitar in 1965. He bought it in 1964.
    2. George Harrison did not own the first Rickenbacker 12-string. Suzie Arden, a Las Vegas entertainer, owned the first Ric 12-string.
    3. The Rickenbacker factory did not add a compressor to the guitar in 1966. Roger McGuinn himself added the electronics from a Vox treble booster. Rickenbacker introduced a limited-edition Roger McGuinn 12-string with onboard compressor in 1988.

  • Robert Mazzarone

    I know or as least I’ve read that the neck on the McGuinn Model is very thin. I own a 360-12C63. I would like to know if the neck on the McGuinn model is thinner than mine? As far a 12 strings go, I think Ric makes the thinnest I ever saw but I’d like to know if his is even thinner than mine.

  • Buddy Valdivia

    I agree with jangle box about the compressor. In 67/68 I took my 360 to I believe John Hall at the old Rickenbacker plant off Sunflower street in Santa Ana CA to have what he described as Byrd Wiring installed. Basicly a 3rd pickup wired to the treble pickup. A compressor was never part of the conversation so I doubt if a compressor was part of the Rickenbacker package.

  • Jason

    RIP proper research

  • rich stillwell

    I’m writing to hopefully clear up some misinformation in regards to your reference to the Eric Clapton 1964 Crossroads 335 in Epic Ink’s Guitar Collection.The song by Robert Johnson called Crossroads that Cream did a cover version of that appeared on their 3rd album, Wheels of Fire, was actually played on the famous Gibson SG that was painted by the Dutch art colective called The Fool not the afformentioned 335..

  • George Wood

    Compressors in 1966 were the size of convection ovens. The technology did not exist then to build one into the guitar.

  • Rick

    Saw that concert at Fordham U in the Bronx. Great music in the University Gym. Didn’t know about the theft. Typical for NYC. Security on campus was pretty tight. Never heard of the theft till now. Thief might have passed crim statute of limits, but Roger might still be able to get it back in civ case, because fraud/concealment stops the clock on statute of limitations. Bought one in 1980 for 550 at Manny’s on 47th or 48th in Manhattan. Still have it, that gorgeous red finish. Still plays faster than I.

  • I own ’64 360/12 mapleglo (NS)

    Thin neck