Rickenbacker 400 series

Rickenbacker 400, 420, 425, 450, 456, 480, 481

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Rickenbacker 430 Electric Guitar
Rickenbacker 450 Electric Guitar

Rickenbacker 430 and 450 guitars taken from the 1982 catalogue

The Rickenbacker 400 series was an attempt to create a quality product at a low price. Although never as popular as the 300 series the 400s were well-made and intersting instruments. These were Rickenbackers solid-body guitars, available from the late 1950s until the mid 1980s. The first was the 'tulip' shaped combo 400 available from 1956 - also the first Rickenbacker to feature the neck-through body design. All were distictive instruments, usually maple with a rosewood fingerboard, often featuring the 'cresting wave' body design that made Rickenbacker solid-bodies stand out, and available in the Rickenbacker color-glo finishes. The specifications and designs of these instruments did vary over the course of their production, and some are very rare indeed.

The illustrations are taken from Rickenbackers 1982 catalogue and show some of the different finishes available at that time. From left to right 430 in matte brown, 450 in mapleglo, 480 in walnut, and 481 in burgundy

Rickenbacker 480 Electric Guitar
Rickenbacker 481 Electric Guitar

Rickenbacker 480 and 481 guitars taken from the 1982 catalogue

Individual model information

  • 400 The father of Rickenbacker solid body guitars. Also known as the combo 400. The 400 featured a through neck, and was replaced by the 425 in 1958. 1956-1958
  • 420 Solid maple body and through neck, rosewood fingerboard. The 420 was the single pickup version of the 450. 1958-1984
  • 425 The 420 with a built in vibrato. (Played by George Harrison - though his was actually a mis-labelled 420). 1958-1973
  • 430 Mahogany body with bolt-on maple neck. Rosewood fingerboard. Rickenbackers budget solid-body. 1971-1982
  • 450 Two pickup version of the 420. 1957-1984
  • 450/12 Twelve-string version of the 450
  • 456/12 This amazing instrument is a 450/12 with a comb converter. The idea was that it could be played as a 12 string, yet using the comb converter could aslo act a s a 6 string, or any where in between 6 and 12. 1966-1976
  • 470 Deluxe version of the 430 that never saw commercial production
  • 480 This interesting guitar has the body design of the Rickenbacker bass. It features a bolt-on maple neck, maple body, and rosewood fingerboard. Manufactured 1973-1984
  • 481 A deluxe version of the 480. Still with bold on maple neck, body and the Rickenbackler bass body style, it also featured slanted frets, and a pickup phase reversal switch
  • 483 A three pickup version of the 480
  • 490 An interesting model with interchangeable electronics, that never saw full production

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US ebay listings

1976 Rickenbacker 481 "SLANT FRET" Mapleglo

Current price: $2790.00
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Time left: 30d 16h 47m
1974 Rickenbacker 481 Slant Fret Guitar Mapleglo with Case

Current price: $2599.00
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Time left: 37d 15h 11m
1968 Rickenbacker 450 Vintage Electric Guitar Jetglo: MOJO!

Current price: $2299.00
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Time left: 29d 18h 53m
Rare American 1973 Rickenbacker 480 Maple

Current price: $2000.00
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Time left: 1h 46m

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