rickenbacker suicide

Of course guitars can’t really do themselves in, but it looked like my late 80’s Rickenbacker 330 12-string had done just that when i opened the case on Friday to find this:

broken rickenbacker

After getting over the initial shock, i realized that it was the “R” tailpiece that had broken, presumably during a hurricane evacuation or just being in storage in hot weather. But this guitar had been halfway around the world with me since around 1991, and I had never had this happen before.

Rickenbacker will replace the “R” provided that I send them the old one and buy the replacement as well. It’s a pretty old guitar, so I suppose that’s reasonable, but the replacement part is $100 which is not cheap.

No real answers as to why it happened either, but looking on the Rickenbacker boards it seems that there was some problem with the models of this era and hopefully fixed now. The extra tension on the 12-strings (versus a 6-string) is obviously a factor, as it doesn’t happen on 6-strings. And when the person at Ric customer service asked me about what kind of strings I had on it — I had Pyramids — he seemed to believe that these strings had a higher tension rating which may have contributed to the crack.

I’ve had this guitar for nearly 20 years and only ever had one issue with it — when a piece of later-discovered cat fur was blocking the jack preventing me from playing “Fearless” at a Halloween show where we performed as 1972 Pink Floyd — and excepting some screws that went rusty, have not had any reason to question the quality of their manufacturing process. It’s been a great guitar, and hopefully will be again soon, but I am really going to have to consider using different strings, or storing it differently, or something. Hopefully the replacement tailpiece will be of stronger stuff!

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2 Responses to “rickenbacker suicide”

  1. aleatoric Says:

    Update: new tailpiece received and on, with the same exact strings (none of them actually broke) as before. I am a little nervous but not completely convinced that it was the Pyramids that caused the problem. The Rickenbacker message boards refer to this problem as something that has happened quite a bit with tailpieces of this vintage (80s-90s), and only on 12-strings. I tuned the guitar a whole step down (Dd/Gg/Cc/AA/DD) though, just in case, and I probably will just go with standard Rickenbacker strings when I switch em out next.

    If anyone else has had this problem, I’d love to hear from you. My talking about Pyramid strings on the Rickenbacker boards got censored — first they changed “Pyramids” to “Tetrahedrons” and then when I added a comment to say that it had happened, and said “shape referrred to by the Eqyptians” they changed “Egyptians” to “Egelmanns”.


  2. ale{atori}c» Blog Archive » rickenbacker suicide, part 2 Says:

    […] in May of 2009, I wrote this post about opening the case and finding my once-trustworthy Rickenbacker 12-string to have a broken […]

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