Rickenbacker's John Hall: 'The Only Way to Compete Against That Is Using Various Forms of Automation and Working Smart'

gear manufacturer: Rickenbacker date: 10/04/2013 category: interviews

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Rickenbacker's John Hall: 'The Only Way to Compete Against That Is Using Various Forms of Automation and Working Smart'
When you call Rickenbacker, the first thing you hear is the opening chord from "A Hard Day's Night." It is possibly the most famous intro chord from any song ever. And it was played on a Rickenbacker 360/12. That magic chord has variously been described as a G7add9sus4, a G7sus4 and a G11sus4 but what truly matters is the guitar it was played on. Any other instrument than that crystalline - sounding 12-string Rick just wouldn't have been the same. Rickenbacker has been forever married to the lore of the Beatles when John Lennon famously played a Rick when the Fab Four originally appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show back on February 9, 1964. It was a marketing gift sent from heaven and from that moment forward the company - recently celebrating their 82nd year in business - has built and expanded on the brand. John Hall took the company over from his father, F.C. in 1984. His dad had bought the company back in 1953 and finally passed the baton some 30+ years later. Rickenbacker is still wholly owned by the Hall family and here in this illuminating and historic discussion, Hall talks about what it's been like running and growing this legendary business. It hasn't always been an easy process and particularly when he first came onboard, there was some housecleaning that needed to be done. UG: You took over Rickenbacker from your father in 1984 - what was the company going through at that point?

JH: That's a good question. It really was a little bit of a slow period for the company. I think a lot of the employees here in management were on the older side and maybe not totally in touch with the music world. There was a lot of experience in the industry but maybe not so much with what was going on in music. I actually had been gone for a while myself for a little over a year. My dad's health had declined rather rapidly and of course he was considerably older too. He was well into his '70s at that point and I came back. I actually purchased the company from him in September of '84. How much did your father pay for Rickenbacker when he bought the company in 1953? Remember too that at the same time he bought this company, he was still the half-owner of Fender as well and that overlapped for nine months. Had F.C. Hall remained in that partnership, you now might be an owner of Fender Guitars? It could have been. It's just that in reality there were four partners total and not just the two. 'Cause there was Leo Fender, my dad, Charlie Hayes and Don Randall. Randall of course had worked for my dad for years and years and years so Randall came from my dad's company. There just some division and some stuff that went on that not everybody agreed on. Besides that there was also my dad's part of the Fender business was to sell and distribute all of the production and there were some quality issues. The combination of the two things - the dissension as well as the quality - made him want to protect himself. He went out and purchased the Rickenbacker company on his own. What was Rickenbacker worth in 1953? Well, I'm not gonna give you an exact number but it was a fairly sizeable amount at that point in time. That was a company that was 25-years old at that point and what was moderately successful - and I won't say it was necessarily Adolf (later changed to Adolph) Rickenbacker's first priority - is that he had a very large manufacturing business that did anything and everything in metal. In '53 the way I understand it basically the business was split - the music part went off in one direction and all the metal stuff went in the other direction. They were originally all in the same building on Western Avenue in L.A. and half the building was a guitar factory and half was the metal shop. Now there was a lot of synergy there obviously because you were building metal parts for Rickenbacker instruments. That even continued after the companies were split. To be honest with you, I don't know who bought the other half but they were a supplier for parts well into the '70s. So your father went from co-owning Fender to owning Rickenbacker? This was an opportunity for my dad. I'm sure he wanted to continue working along with the Fender guys but things just made that a little uncomfortable for him. He did put up all of the money because none of the other guys had any money. My dad had been quite successful and he's the one that put up all the money and financed that thing. If he hadn't of put the money up, that never would have flown. A lot of that money was never repaid either. When you came onboard, what changes did you make? The first thing I did is got rid some of the less knowledgeable people and also made sure we had the right people in the right places as far as taking the pulse of what the business was like at that time. In the mid-'80s metal was happening. Did that affect the sales of Rickenbackers? That was going on and also you have to remember that was really the age of Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and a lot of stuff was going that way. There was also a lot of external competition from the outside industry that was the rise of the video games. Skiing and snowboarding was another huge big thing that had come on the scene that took away from the music industry as a whole. There was a lot of competition for dollars outside the music industry. You think guitar companies in general were facing difficult times? Oh yeah, that's well documented. Just a heck of a lot more competition for that ... what's the word I'm trying to think of? Disposable income? Yeah, disposable income and the extra dollars available. Besides letting some people go when you took over the company, what did you think about the guitars Rickenbacker were building at that point? I didn't feel so strongly that we needed to update with totally brand new instruments and throw out the baby with the bathwater so to speak. What I felt though was we needed to try to find a way to market some of these older instruments. At that time there was a very, very strong feeling and probably came more than anything from talking about instruments that were pre-CBS or post-CBS at Fender. This idea of new versus old instruments and vintage versus modern instruments. I felt we could capitalize on that because we had been around all this time and we had gone corporate. Rickenbacker's allure has always been a nostalgic one. So that's about the time I introduced the concept of vintage reissues. We were the first in that field. Is that right? We were absolutely the first in that. So we immediately started making replicas of guitars we had made way back when. That came to be the right thing for the marketplace. At the same time we did try some new instruments - some of those were successful and others were a tough sell because they just weren't as being like the old Rickenbacker products. It was just a matter of feeling our way through what was gonna be the best niche for us. Every company now reissues older instruments if they have enough of a history to do that. We were the first to do that. Right. What I was getting at was what is that process? Are you using the same wood and the same pickup in the reissue as you used in the original? We made a distinction between instruments that were based on vintage but updated as well as instruments that were really, truly replicas. The C Series were the replicas whereas the V Series - the Vintage Series - were instruments that have some of the structural improvements that make them better instruments but have the vintage appearance. The C Series instruments were designed to be exactly like the originals and were even built in the original way warts and all. There were two separate approaches to that concept from our standpoint. Rickenbacker has always been known for one specific and beautiful guitar sound. How has the company endured all these years based on that one simple guitar tone? I don't have a specific answer and I've often wondered about that. The main thing though is this side of the business anyway and the side we've chosen to come down on is the fact that this is a unique industry. Can you imagine someone saying they wanted the exact same TV set they had in 1964? I don't think so. It's great to have the incredibly long product lives on stuff and we're really in a neat situation in our industry. Some might call it a throwback and others might call it an appreciation of history but we chose to stay on that side of things as opposed to doing really new things. Why did you come to that decision? Mainly because when you start getting into the new, new, new mentality you end up with product lives of 18 months and basically have to be working on the next product right now. It's almost a self-defeating cycle in a way. We chose not to go that route. But at the same time we've also made an investment in newer instruments that have hung in there. It's taken 15 or 20 years in some cases to introduce newer products so we're not reliant on that historical instrument base there. In fact there was a five- or six-year period there in the early 2000s that we did not make a single Beatlesque-type instrument. We were emphasizing new products and they did quite well. That must have been difficult to attract players to new instruments and away from the legacy guitars. The whole idea was not to forget our history with the Beatles but to pull ourselves away from it so we were not reliant on that. In fact the single biggest best-selling product we have right now for instance - bearing in mind that this is quite cyclical - is the 4003 black bass. We have literally thousands of those on order. We just cannot keep up producing those. Well you can't point back and say, "Such and such used an instrument like this and drove this market." There isn't any one person like that. If it was either a Fireglo or a Natural bass I'd say, "Well maybe that came from Paul McCartney." I mean I guess Geddy Lee has shown up with a black bass on occasion but you can't just point to one guy and say, "That's what made this happen." So it's the concept this instrument has stood on its own two feet and made its own reputation as opposed to being reliant on the old guys so to speak. What is your earliest memory of Rickenbacker? Sure, I remember 1954 or '55. The first thing I probably remember were all the people that came to our home. People like Toots Thielemans and old-timers like that were friends of my dad and hung around the house. But I can remember at a very young age probably five or so, the factory was in Los Angeles but the warehouse and sales office was here in Santa Ana. So either my mom or dad almost every day drove to Los Angeles and it was partly to oversee some of the management. But more than anything it was basically just to pick up a load of guitars that had been produced. Your parents would actually make that drive and pick up the guitars themselves? I would end up riding with them relatively often and the car was packed with these guitars coming back. So I'd have a little, tiny spot and these cartons of guitars all around me coming back. Later on in 1955 they bought an old Ford station wagon that they could get a heck of a lot more instruments into. They'd pack that thing solid. So I used to hang out as a kid very often at the factory up there and one of the employees always bought me a Ne-Hi out at the pop machine. I played around with little blocks of wood and sandpaper and pieces of scrap metal. So I had pretty early exposure to if not the actual instruments themselves certainly all of the stuff to make them. You mentioned Paul McCartney’s name earlier and certainly the legacy of Rickenbacker is forever tied to the Beatles. Did F.C. know John Lennon was going to play a Rick on the Ed Sullivan Show? In '64, yeah, it all kind of hit the fan there. Well he knew; he had been advised by one of his sales people that was perhaps a little more up to date on what was happening in music. But even then at that point in time, no one had any idea where the Beatles were going. All they knew was they were somewhat of a phenomenon and they were coming to the States. That is true. I mean I guess you could say my dad went out on the limb a little bit to take the time to fly down to New York City and organize the meeting with the guys. My dad had some correspondence back and forth by letter at first but I think by telegram with Brian Epstein. He had arranged to meet them when they did come over. So they went and stayed at the Plaza Hotel after they arrived. My dad stayed at the Savoy Hotel and he took a suite and set up a little display of instruments he'd brought along and amplifiers and stuff. He set that up and Epstein brought them over to the hotel. I have some of the phone messages of Brian calling and saying, "I'm bringing the boys over in a while" or whatever. Very cool. So he did and they all came including Ringo except for George. Cynthia Lennon was also present and my mom went along with my dad and I know she and Cynthia Lennon sat down and got along really well. My dad showed the guys the instruments and they thought they were pretty cool. My dad presented John with a guitar. What kind of guitar was that? It was the newer version of the 325. John had been using the older, slightly thicker version of the 325. His original was a '58, which he purchased in Germany and he used it there on that first Sullivan Show. After staying in New York they went down to Miami and they rehearsed there in the basement of the Deauville Hotel. They rehearsed using the new instrument and you'll see some photos of John using the new instrument. Then the next weekend when they played the Sullivan Show, John was using that new guitar my dad had given to him. Did you dad try to give any of the other Beatles guitars? My dad tried to present Paul with a bass but oops, "No one told us you were left-handed." So that didn't work. Then he also had a 12-string guitar there but the guys looked at that and said, "Oh, this is really cool. You know what? George has got to see this. George really needs to see this guitar but he's back over at the Plaza and he's sick in bed with some kind of cold." They said, "He's got to see this. Let's go back. Let's take this guitar and show it to George."

So you had to drive over to George's hotel? One of the big problems was at that time they had barricades around the plaza trying to keep the fans back. Well the fans had somehow or other figured out they were now at the Savoy so the hotel is surrounded by fans. My dad went down and talked to the bell captain and determined there was a tunnel of some kind that went out of a service basement. The tunnel came out on the edge or in Central Park. So my dad and the Beatles all walked down and went out carrying the instruments and walked through Central Park totally unmolested back over to the Plaza. Can you imagine being a fan and watching that parade through Central Park? They went up and George sat up in bed and played this instrument and he loved it. He was just ecstatic about the sound of this thing. They had somehow or other shipped over a Rickenbacker amplifier to his room. I'm not quite sure how it got there but I'm certain they didn't carry that through the park. So there's some great photos of George sitting up in bed with his Rick amplifier in the background playing away. What an amazing moment. He even a radio interview on telephone while he was playing the instrument. He said, "Oh yeah, I think this is really cool. This is really a nice guitar." Anyway my dad gave him that instrument. There was a little point of confusion there because the radio station said, "Wow, we'd like to buy you a guitar like that." They did but it was another guitar they presented to him a week later. What type of guitar was that? They bought a round-body 360 type. The guitar my dad presented to George was a squared-off model. That 360 your dad gave to George Harrison was the second 360/12 Rickenbacker ever made? Yes, the very first one my dad gave to him was the second electric 12-string. The first one had gone to a friend of my dad's. The second one was George's that was presented in New York. The third one that George had was by that time one of zillions. Did you ever meet the Beatles? Yes, I did. The following year they were out here for the Hollywood Bowl and we were invited to that performance. So my dad and I went up to that. Afterwards we went up to the home they stayed at. Burt Lancaster's home as I recall. Was that up in Bel Air? Benedict Canyon or Nichols Canyon. I don't remember exactly but it was a really nice canyon home. Part of the reason it had been selected is it was sort of like on a little hilltop and had ice plant all around the place. They had guys with hoses hosing down the ice plant so that they couldn't climb up the sides. I was 15 years old and my dad and I went in there and we were hanging out with 'em. I had an opportunity to present Paul with his left-handed bass. They dragged out a little itty bitty tiny Vox amplifier and John, Paul and George all plugged their instruments into that little itty bitty amp and were jamming away in the living room of the house. Were there other people present? There were a lot of other people coming and going through this. Peter Fonda showed up and ended up in a fight with John and I saw Peter Fonda ejected from the place. I also met for the very first time then Roger McGuinn who was there in the house and he's been a friend ever since. That was the first time I met him and there were a lot of other people hanging around and coming and going. Being at that house must have blown your mind. It was a very unusual day. Many years later Roger asked me, "Do you remember that day?" I said, "Yeah, sure." He said, "Well would you write down everything you remember?" I said, "Well, yeah, but why?" He said, "I'm writing a book about the experience." I said, "OK, but you were there. Why do you need me?" He said, "Well, umm, umm. That was the first day we and the Beatles all tried acid and I can't say I remember everything clearly." I thought, "Aha, that explains an awful lot of things." Did Roger McGuinn already have his Rickenbacker at that point? Yes, he'd already gotten his instrument from a music store in L.A. That was one of the things he and I talked about and in fact I guess that's how we got to know each other. He was asking me about strings for the instrument. We brought along a lot of strings. I had the same 12-string guitar like that and had done a lot of experimenting and I had come up with a particular gauge of strings. I said, "Here, this is what you need. Try this set." I gave him a bunch of sets and gave George a bunch of sets and they switched over. Thereafter there was always some kind of contact with Roger and I. You immediately think of the Beatles and the Byrds as the main bands using Rickenbackers back in the day. But Pete Townshend was also using Ricks and that connection seems a bit more difficult to understand. To be honest with you I'm not sure how much he was tuned into the idea that it had a particular sound or playability or whatever. I almost think any instrument would have worked for what he was doing. But he has stated in a real nice BBC hour radio show called Rickenbacker: History of the Frying Pan. In fact it's on our music on hold when you call. If you're on hold for an hour you can hear the whole thing. Anyway he says in there part of his attraction was the fact that it was almost an unattainable instrument and it was far too expensive for most of the people to own. For him there was some vicarious thrill in being able to toss one of these guitars around and be able to afford to break one up in pieces. So there was something else there going on there (laughs). John Entwistle also used a Rick bass for a while. He did. He had several different instruments - he had an 8-stringer (4001 prototype) and also had one of the 4005 hollowbody basses. He also had one of the light-up basses (Lightshowx), which was a variation of the 4005 that had electronics inside that lit up and flashed. There were only five of those built so he had one of those. Obviously Paul McCartney also played the Fireglo 4001S that was famously painted when the Beatles did Magical Mystery Tour. Through the years I've kept in better touch with Paul. There have been a number of times I've had contact with Paul at various functions. Certainly Chris Squire from Yes made the 4001CS pretty famous. You know I actually can't say I've ever seen in an interview or ever heard him say he was influenced by Paul directly. However, Chris worked in one of the Denmark Street music stores in London (Boosey & Hawkes) that handled our product. So he certainly was very well aware of McCartney and McCartney obviously caused a lot of those instruments to be sold and be available in the stores. A while ago you had your 75th Anniversary and Paul Kantner was honored. He’s one of those unsung Rickenbacker players. Now we're up to 82 years. I've talked to him and he loves his Ricks. Was R.E.M. important in bringing the Rickenbacker to those sorts of indie rock bands back in the day? Yeah. There's another thing that had sort of gone on and I don't know exactly why. Everyone considered a Rick to be a songwriting guitar. Somehow or other I guess it seemed like sitting there playing one it means you're gonna write a song (laughs). I can't explain that but that was just a reputation thing. Even if that wasn't necessarily the primary instrument of choice for the stage, it was something every musician seemed to want to have while they were writing songs. There was some kind of backdoor influence there. That makes sense. There were certain niches too we hung onto and still hang onto ferociously and that's the 12-string guitar. We have a 98 percent share of the 12-string market. And then the bass is a very, very popular instrument. In fact one of the industry magazines a number of years kept sales statistics and at least during one quarter it was the best-selling solidbody bass in the over $700 price bracket. Now that's not saying a whole bunch because 99 percent of the basses being sold were in the under $700 price market like the cheap Precision knockoffs and stuff like that. But still on the higher-priced side of things, we've been holding our own. Those are two good niches we're not gonna let up on. Talking about bass, Lemmy has been a longtime Rick player. Do you think he's brought a bit more of the metal player to Rickenbacker? Yeah, I suppose. That is the funny thing - that instrument especially in black you see everywhere in all genres: metal, reggae, country. It's kind of bizarre how ubiquitous it is out there. It's really second only to the P bass for its ubiquitousness. Classic artists like Tom Petty and John Fogerty have played Ricks for a long time. Yeah, but there's a lot of younger guys too that you see. Like Interpol, the Editors, Against Me, and a lot of bands that to be honest with you, I don't listen to. But still there's an awful lot of people out there playing the stuff. I don't think they're playing it because they saw the Beatles with them. I agree. It's for some other reason and especially that black bass. There are other really good-selling instruments that you can figure out where it came from. The 360 guitar in Jetglo was obviously Peter Buck. That's his guitar and we sell a lot of those to people that are into R.E.M. and that type of sound and they're buying that type of instrument. Naturally a 370 12-string in Mapleglo is pretty easy to trace back to Roger McGuinn and we do sell quite a few of those. There are a lot of instruments across the board that are being sold. That's another funny thing about this company - I think when most people think of Gibson for instance, they think of a Les Paul. Absolutely. When most people think of Fender, they're probably thinking of a Stratocaster in a guitar or a Precision bass. Those are the big sellers for those companies. All of our stuff across the board sells well. This is both a blessing as well as a real burden because we have such a range of body styles and pickups and all of that and trying to keep up. We've got Petty with the 600 body shape as well as being known for being playing the George Harrison guitar. We've got the Beatles covering the 3/4 scale little John Lennon guitar and the George Harrison 12-stringer. We've got a lot of people in one shape or another supporting the bass. It's a wider mixture of successful product across the line as compared to the other companies. Do you have actual endorsees? We have no such thing as an endorsee. We have no artist's program. Obviously we work with the real high profile artists. I personally do that and most of these people are my friends but we don't give instruments away; we don't place instruments; and we don't have a program for guys to come and buy an instrument at a special price. We don't do that. Why don't you do that? The main problem is availability. We're anywhere from 18 months to two years out depending on the model. What our customer service guys will do for some artist that is looking for an instrument is match them up with a store that actually has one. We try to work with 'em but it is not as an endorsee-type basis. The bottom line: we really feel the instruments stand on their own. Are their certain instruments that hold a fond place in your heart? Well, if I were limited to one choice I would point to the 4004 bass. That's something I came up with and something I play myself personally in my band. That's a series that's actually been around for quite a few years now. This is a perfect example of how you kinda have to build your credibility over a period of years. You can't just put out a new instrument and expect it's gonna be a number one seller. I guess it has happened in this industry but I can't even offhand think of any instrument that anyone has put out that has immediately gone to a top position. The 4004 has become a standard for Rickenbacker? It's now done that. It has achieved its own place and credibility so I'm pretty happy to see that. That's really the follow-on to the 4003 series, which in its own was the follow-on from the 4001 series. The 650 series was mine and that developed nicely over the years. That developed real well in other markets during that four- or five-year period there from 2000 to 2005 approximately when we were not making the Beatlesque-type instruments. So yeah, I would point to both of those but the 4004 in particular. Any new guitars or new things you might be unveiling at the upcoming NAMM Show in 2014? Whether you'll see anything at the NAMM Show or not, I don't know. We've always been working on new stuff and in particular the last year-and-a-half or so, there has been some really cool new stuff. The problem is the backlog. We don't have the manufacturing capacity to make that kind of stuff. If I have so much demand for the older product, it doesn't make a lot of sense to bring out something new. Not only would it backlog us further but the people who are waiting for the old stuff don't understand why we would be bringing out anything new. That does sound like an enviable place to be in for a company. It's actually frustrating to me 'cause there's a lot of really cool stuff I'd like to get made. But until we figure out how to make a heck of a lot more instruments, I just can't look at new stuff. Rickenbacker builds everything here in the U.S.? 100 percent. That's something I'm not gonna change. That's just a commitment we've made. Grover Jackson worked for Rickenbacker back in the day. What did he bring to the company? For a few years on two different occasions. His instrument was not on the instrument side at all. His input was on the manufacturing side. He was the factory manager for a number of years and his innovations were on the side of automation and better ways to build stuff. He certainly contributed to a lot of that and kicked off a lot of our earliest stuff into CNC and CAD CAM and all of that kind of thing. It was never part of his mission here to design instruments. But certainly there are a number of little innovations or ways to make something better that he contributed. You can say the same exact thing for Forest White, the original Fender factory manager. He was our factor manager for a number of years before he went to Music Man. He was involved in some of the changes in the truss rod design and all that. But you can’t point to any model that either Forest or Grover had anything to do with in terms of designing the guitar. Are you aware of Grover Jackson's new guitar company, GJ2? Sure. We've watched them and basically his one and only employee was someone that used to work here. I talk to Grover from time to time and we're friends. Any feelings about any of the other guitar companies out there? I can't say I go out of my way to keep up with the other folks mainly because of that backlog problem. That's what we're constantly doing. We literally have so much business, we don't know what to do. So I have concentrated pretty well on what we do rather than what other people do. But it is interesting to see where they're going and it seems like everybody has a little different way and a different spin on approaching some of the same issues. What are those issues? The use of woods in the modern world and certain wood supplies are dwindling. Finishes and compliance with the law. Changes in the music industry like the decline of the small stores and the growth of the big box stores. All of us have approached that a little bit differently. And we all sort of know each other and talk to each other occasionally. But everyone brings a little different skill and slant to the thing. Certainly Rickenbacker is unique in what it does. We're kind of the last of the originals that hasn't gone overseas and embraced that whole thing. I think that's actually been one of the reasons for our success. I can’t actually point to any one thing that got us to where we are. Would it be viable on any level for other guitar builders to make their instruments solely in the U.S.? It's sad to say there's no way an American company can compete with the low cost overseas hand labor. Japan used to be the place and it got far too expensive. Korea used to be the place and it got far too expensive as their workers upgraded. China used to be the place and it still is to some extent but now those workers are becoming more costly. It's the new places like Vietnam, Indonesia and India where guitars are being produced and the low-cost labor is being exploited. How would an American company compete with that? The only way to compete against that is using various forms of automation and working smart. Figuring out a better way to do something using some form of automation is the only way to compete in this country. You believe that if American guitar builders figured out how to maximize automation and worked smarter that they’d be able to build 100 percent of an instrument in the U.S.? Absolutely. The only reason why those instruments are being manufactured out of the U.S. are strictly reasons of accounting. It has nothing to do with manufacturing or sales or anything else - it's strictly to make a little bit more money. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make a little more money. The need to make more money is probably based on the financing and leveraging. Fender is leveraged to the hilt; Gibson is leveraged to the hilt; and PRS has 15 or 16 owners or something like that. All of these entities whether it's a bank or multiple owners, they all want a return on their investment. There are no other owners of Rickenbacker besides you? We're unique in that regard - my wife and I own the company. We don't have a bunch of people to satisfy but still we make a nice living. But we don't have all these people to satisfy and we have zero debt. There are no banks that are in line there. We're not publicly owned and we don't have outside share holders and counting organizations looking over our shoulders to squeeze another nickel out of something. Unfortunately those other big companies are looking at the pennies and the nickels and where can we get an extra little bit out of it? That's where the decision to go overseas was made. Do you have any sense of what musicians hear in the sound of a Rickenbacker? In the very most basic sense, it's high-fidelity instrument and it's a wide-ranging sound. Other instruments have a real specialized-type sound, which may come from distortion or a sonic curve that emphasized particular frequency ranges. All of which are good and I like all of those myself and they're pretty cool. There are certain things that sound right on a Strat or Les Paul. But from day one the Rickenbacker guitar has been very hi-fi - it's not really highly colored. What do you mean? What everyone perceives as jangle is brightness that's available there and brightness that isn't available in other instruments. Mainly because the response of the pickup is relatively flat and like I say, hi-fi. The aliens are landing and they want to hear the three greatest Rickenbacker sounds ever made. What would they listen to? I think you'd have to go back to cover all bases to some of the early Hawaiian guitar music from the '30s and '40s. You gotta cover that one. Certainly in the '60s you'd have to include "A Hard Days Night." Is there any other song you can recognize from the first chord? Not like that one. I don't think so. That's a Rickenbacker guitar. Third one? I wish I could give you a modern tune but the problem is modern music (laughs). Certainly "Mr. Tambourine Man" sticks out in there. Once again we're back in the '60s there but there has been a lot of cool stuff since then. Interview by Steven Rosen Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2013
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