In 1984, when we started 1964 The Tribute, none of the major guitar companies were making re-issues of their famous guitars, there was no internet, no eBay, etc... just newspaper classifieds, local trade papers, music stores and guitar magazines with want ads in the back for vintage guitars and dealers.
So, if you're putting together a show about The Beatles and you wanted to use authentic instruments, you had to scour all the papers and music stores in hopes that something would pop up. The Rickenbacker 325 model guitar played by John Lennon wasn't sold in large numbers which made it even more scarce than other popular guitars and harder to find, never mind the fact that even if you were lucky enough to find one, it usually wasn't for sale.
With this in mind, I decided I'd make a replica 1958 Rickenbacker 325. I'd been working in the guitar repair and restoration business for several years at that time and had a good working knowledge of how Rickenbacker guitars were made. We had our first show coming up in about 2 1/2 weeks so I had to get it built, painted and stage ready by then. I had worked on 325 models from the 60s, but never had an actual 1958 model in my hands before. I knew the body dimensions and shape were different than the later models but I didn't know it was made out of alder wood. I assumed they were all made out of maple, so that's what I used. The body was rock maple and the neck was a lovely piece of birds eye maple my dad had in his workshop. From tracings of customers guitars, pictures and videos I fashioned the body and neck. I used a bright orange piece of vermillion wood for the fretboard.
Occasionally, when you work in a guitar repair shop, someone brings in a guitar they need fixed up so they can sell it. And sometimes they'll sell it 'as is' if they like your offer. This is where the rest of my guitar came from.
A customer brought in a basket case 1958 Rickenbacker Capri guitar that had been spray can painted black after it was cut for three humbucking pickups, an additional control cavity on the upper bout to match the one on the bottom so he could add additional switching possibilities for the three pickups and have symmetrical white pick guards and white headstock logo piece with no name, poorly repaired neck breaks at the headstock and neck heel, and a smashed in section on the side of the upper body bout ala Pete Townshend. Yikes!
I asked him if he had any of the original parts and said he thought he did, but would have to look. He came back to the shop later that day with a box that had the original gold plastic hand guard with the original wiring harness, the original gold plastic headstock logo piece and the three original pickups. $500 and the deal was done.
I used the pickguard and wiring harness, logo, and pickups on my guitar. Also, there was enough undamaged wood from the back of the Capri to use for the back of my guitar and the fretboard was perfect for our 12 string... but that's another story. The luckiest part of this whole deal was that each humbucking pickup was an original Gibson PAF pickup. And two of them were zebra coils! Unbelievable!
This has been my go to guitar for 32 years now. Lots and lots of miles on it and it's never let me down.
"1964" ...The Tribute is not endorsed by or affiliated with Apple Corps, LTD.