Price paid: $ 2940
Purchased from: Thomann
Features — 9
I purchased my RIC 370/12 FG 2015 model in Germany, from Australia. The same 12-string guitar is never-ever seen in the retail stores here and hence is virtually unavailable here. It was sold for $189 USD less than it's US RRP. Where the equivalent new guitar on eBay from America, would be at least an additional $1050 in USD (due to lack of availability), plus an additional $295 FedEx International Economy shipping. The original list price was offset with discount coupons and the fact that I had originally arranged to purchase a 360/12 FG, which had gone on the indefinite "back-order" by Rickenbacker. Thomann treated my order with due respect, once that it was found that Rickenbacker had put it on the back-burner. Consequently, Thomann brokered an opportunity to upscale to 370/12 FG, for which they received two on back order, seven weeks after my original order. The only shipping cost was a flat International fee of $55 USD. It is a standard 370/12 model, strung with octave pairs of RIC 46-10's, with a 24-fret maple neck through body model with a rosewood fingerboard. It has a 62.9 cm (24 3/4") "standard scale." A stand-out buying decision for me, was the dual 3/8" truss-rods, which are now standard, since 1975. The fretboard is inlaid with mother of pearl, in truncated triangular fret-markers. The body has a glossy nitro finish over solid maple. The finish easily takes advantage of the maple timber, especially on the back, to highlight the unique grain patterns. The bull-nosed bouts and routed body shape with rear-edge white binding, is unique to the Rickenbacker 360 and 370 series. The RIC die-cast "R" tailpiece and 6 saddle bridge is unique to Rickenbacker guitars. The 370/12 comes standard with three pickups, two volume and two tone dials, a three-way selector switch, and wiring for Mono and Stereo Rick-O-Sound (post-1971). It comes equipped with twelve RIC Schaller non-locking machine heads, in a unique configuration of six horizontal and six vertical tuning keys. It also has Schaller straplocks as standard. The guitar comes with a hard case containing a manual, cloth, hex keys, case keys, warranty (US-only) and RIC sticker.
Sound — 9
I have and shall continue to play a variety of styles, principally rock, country, traditional, alternative, pop, mixed with rhythm and blues. The tuning, post new gear wear-in, so far, has been solid, even after leaving the guitar neglected for a few days. As a 12-string, I can imagine that I could play it to fit into a gig and unique concert performances with a variety of other instruments with a matched amp. It sounds quite different from my Maton EM425C/12 12-string electro acoustic through my Vox Tony Bruno 1x10" 35-watt combo amplifier, plus my Fender Blues Junior 15W 1x12" combo amp and my Orange Crush 25BX practice amp. Re pedals, I tend to use my current basic line-up which include a Boss GE-7, TE-2, MT-2, BF-3, CE-5, a Dunlop Fuzzface and Vox Wah. None of these pedals are specific to the 12-string. My AVID "Fast Track Duo" extends it's capabilities, even further with a host of tonal and effects options. There is absolutely, no hum, it's sharply resonant and distinct tones, which is care of the two tonal controls, that swim immersively into rich "jangely" treble tones, with a matched treble-centric amp. As this a brand new instrument I haven't taken it into "the farthest reaches" of gigging and recording that I have with my acoustic Maton EM425C/12 12-string, yet. The best depth to push the GAIN on your amp, is achieved at full volume, as these are passive high gain pickups. Although, even at 3/4 volume, it has demonstrated a dynamic range so far, that clearly recreates many of my favourite Brit-'60s rock 12-string sounds, as keenly as cloning a sonic complex The Byrds' or The Church's lead riff.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
As with most Rickenbackers, the factory set-up of the 370/12 was matchless. The pups were extremely well set-up through a factory installation. All the timber-work is CNC routed and the body timber is keenly bookmatched. There have been no apparent flaws in any of the materials or finishes. I have not been required to do my usual strip-down to reset the guitar neck (as on the RIC 370/12, it's impossible as it's a set-in neck), body and interiors and rebuild it to the manfacturer's specifications, as it's come from the factory, absolutely flawless.
As a footnote I was compelled to seek out a new model after seeing an early FG model RIC 360, albeit battered, bruised, poorly treated with rust and neglect was up for sale for $905 USD less, in a local dealer's store in early April, 2015. It prompted me to persist to get the best I could afford as the sound on these guitars is, quoting "...Mr. Campbell, a guitarist who performs with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, said that picking up Harrison's Rickenbacker and playing the chords to 'You Can't Do That' resulted in 'an out-of-body experience.'"
Reliability & Durability — 9
The 370/12 has a rock-solid build, as long as you look after the neck through body, which is comparable feature to my Gibson SG's. The tuning hardware, bridge, pup covers and tailpiece is very robust. The straplocks will match male Schallers. Although, I have thing about using Ernie Ball's straplocks on Gibsons, due to their location next to your belly-button, but it's genuinely no problem with the RIC's. I would find it a thoroughly dependable guitar, based on my experience with my existing RIC 360/6. As it's a unique tone but you can never overcome the randomness of gigs, as things break, people trip over gear - nightmares do happen! The finish is robust to last with simple TLC and no solvent-based sprays or chemicals near it. Yes, I have learnt my unfortunate "nitro-cellulose" lessons in my youth! In future years, it will still sound great, even if the finish wears thin.
Overall Impression — 10
The trebley voice of the 370/12 won't fit all rock music and my RIC 360/6 will still have a place, for many of those blues and prog-rock numbers requiring a solid attack. Although, with the right pedal voicings, I should be able to create a sustained dwell-mode of tsunami-style proportions that fashions a biting personal sound. As I have been playing since my teen years, my vintage observations are fashioned from many hours, in front of the amps. I have many other guitars (acoustic and electric), basses and ukes, including tenor uke gear, which all gets rotated and added onto at miscellaneous junctures. Hence, I seriously researched the topic on Rickenbacker models and comparative prices, including shipping before I bought this RIC 370/12 and I highly recommend "Rickenbacker Electric 12-String," Tony Bacon, 2010, Hal Leonard Books. If it were stolen, I'd definitely acquire another one, but only if I could get it at the "right AUD price." I love that it doesn't suffer "dropsy" from the headstock, like some other well-known models, that aren't balanced so beautifully. My favourite feature is the dual tone and volume controls, the purpose built bridge-tailpiece and it's overall styling from the distinctly internally routed body, the white inlaid trim and custom 12-string headstock. These hallmarks create a distinguished and more robust body, than the RIC 330's, I believe. I may wish, in the future, that it comes with locking tuners after a grueling gig, but I certainly haven't reached that junction, as of yet. The only thing that I feel compelled to test out is comparative set of strings, from the RIC standard. So it looks like it might be Ernie Ball's "12 String Slinkys" next?