Back in May of 2009, I wrote this post about opening the case and finding my once-trustworthy Rickenbacker 12-string to have a broken tailpiece, snapped in two by the tension of the strings.
I found rumors on the net about inferior alloys used by RIC in the late 80’s as well as the unusually high tension of the Pyramid brand of strings I was using. With a new tailpiece and the guitar tuned down a whole step (from EeAaDdGgBBEE to DdGgCcFfAADD), I figured I was in good shape.
Lo and behold, I opened up the case last month and strings were everywhere—the tailpiece had apparently snapped again. Fortunately it was not the floating “R” logo tailpiece this time, but the clasp screwed onto the body that the “R” piece hooked into. In other words, the other half of the older equation, rumored to have the faulty alloy.
I have a hard time believing that it could be the Pyramid strings when I had the guitar tuned down a whole step. Nonetheless, lots of Rickenbacker-obsessed people who spend a lot more time with this sort of thing than I do all seem to be recommending switching strings, so I ordered some Thomastik Infelds just in case, and as a lower tension will make for easier string-bending.
Apparently Rickenbacker corporate hates Pyramids so much that they refuse to let anyone mention them by name on their website, and replace the word “pyramid” with “tetrahedron.” Likewise, using the name of a popular compression pedal that people use to get that Byrdsy jangle (even endorsed by Roger McGuinn himself) is verboten: “JangleBox” becomes “Jingle Bells.” Why they dislike the pedal isn’t entirely clear, aside from vague intimations of copying the built-in circuitry of a unit that’s no longer even made.