RICKENBACKER 400 SERIES

The Rickenbacker 400 Series is a family of solid body electrics produced from 1956 until the 1980s. The first 400 model was the short-lived tulip shaped Combo 400, soon replaced by the 425 model with a cresting wave style body. The 1960s saw the introduction of the more deluxe 460 model, and also the 12 string 450/12 model. The 1970s saw the release of the 480, 481 and 483 models - with bodies shaped like the iconic 4000 series basses.

RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)

Rickenbacker made the Combo 400 model from 1956 until 1958. This was the first Rickenbacker guitar with a tulip-shaped body and also the first featuring neck-through-body construction. The Combo 400 had a single pickup which was set into a recessed cavity in at the neck end of the body. Finish options were blue-green, golden and black and the pickguard was gold anodized aluminum. The pickguard on the 1956 models does not surround the pickup entirely - but does on the later 1957 models.

Source The History of Rickenbacker Guitars. Richard Smith. Centerstream Publications, 1987.

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RICKENBACKER 420

The RICKENBACKER 420 was introduced in 1965 when a Boyd vibrato tailpiece was added to the model 425. The non-vibrato version of the 425 guitar was then given the model number 420 (although non-vibrato 425s had been around since 1958 - as played in 1963 by George Harrison of the Beatles). The 420 had a cresting wave shaped maple body with neck-though-body construction, a single pickup controlled by single volume & tone controls. The Rickenbacker discontinued the 420 model in 1984.

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RICKENBACKER 425

RICKENBACKER introduced the 425 model in 1958, replacing the Combo 400. The 425 featured the new cresting wave body shape, a white plastic pickguard, 21 fret neck with the classic Rickenbacker shaped headstock. The single pickup was a toaster-top unit at in the bridge position controlled by one tone and one volume control. Early models had a slightly thicker body which was thinned down in 1961. In 1965 a Boyd vibrato was added to the 425 model, at which time the 420 model was introduced as the non-vibrato version. The 425 model lasted until 1973 and the non-vibrato 420 until 1984.

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RICKENBACKER 430

The Rickenbacker 430 was a Rickenbacker entry level solid body electric introduced in 1971 and discontinued in 1982. It has a double cutaway body similar in shape to the later 230 models. While the 430 was a budget model, being a Rickenbacker it's a well-made instrument, but lacking some of the fancy features of the higher end models.

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RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)

RICKENBACKER produced the 450 COMBO between 1957 and 1984. The 1957 Combo 450 was the two toaster top pickup version of the Combo 400 and came in the same finish colors as the 400. Rickenbacker made several changes to the 450 over the years before finally discontinuing the model 1984. The 1957 Combo 450 had the tulip style body with neck-through-body construction. The two outer body wings were secured to the neck by two long bolts and glue. These first 450 Combos had metal pickguards, two controls and a rotary pickup selector near the lower horn.

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RICKENBACKER 450/12

RICKENBACKER made the 450/12 between 1964 and 1985. It was the 12 string version of the 450 model, and the first solid bodied 12 string produced by Rickenbacker. The 450/12 had a 25 inch scale length and two single coil pickups - Rickenbacker Toaster-Tops (or Hi-Gains from 1969 onwards).

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RICKENBACKER 460

Production of the 460 began in 1961 and ended in 1985. The 460 was a more deluxe version of the 450 - it had a bound neck and body and triangle fingerboard inlays. From 1962 this model was available with stereo-output - although some earlier 460 models also had it as a special option. The 460 was also available with an optional extra pickup.

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RICKENBACKER 480

RICKENBACKER made the 480 between 1973 and 1984. All the 480 Series models (the 480, 481 and 483) had cresting wave style bodies like the famous 4000 series basses. Despite its cool looking body shape the 480 never caught on in the same way as the 4000 series bass models but are collectible due to their relative scarcity. Unlike most Rickenbackers the 480 model has a bolt-on neck and a 25 inch scale length. The 480 was available in the full range of Rickenbacker finishes although most commonly in JetGlo (black).

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RICKENBACKER 481

The 481 was made between 1973 and 1984. The 481 has a cresting wave shape body like the 4000 series basses. The 481 had two slanted humbuckers -  early ones had black plastic covers with 6 exposed pole pieces, later models have chrome covers with 12 exposed pole pieces. The 481 had a pickup phase reversal switch.The 481 also had 24 slanted frets. Rickenbacker described these as "patented slanted frets" in their 1975 catalog, and they were angled this way perhaps for ergonomic reasons.

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RICKENBACKER 483

Production of the Rickenbacker 483 began in 1973 and ended in 1984. It was the three pickup version of the 481 model - with the same 4000 series bass style body and bolt-on neck. These 483 guitars were special order and are relative rare compared to the 481 and 482 models. The 483 appeared on the offical price list in 1980 but was discontinued along with the othe 480 guitars in 1984

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Specifications:

ModelImageFinish colorsMade inNumber of stringsFinish effectsScale lengthBinding
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

black finish, blue finish, gold finishUSA6 strings---
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

-USA6 stringssunburst finish--
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

-USA6 stringssunburst finish24.75 inches scale-length-
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

natural finishUSA6 strings---
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

black finish, natural finishUSA6 stringssunburst finish25 inches scale-length-
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

black finish, natural finish, red finishUSA12 stringssunburst finish25 inches scale-length-
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

black finish, natural finishUSA6 strings--body binding, neck binding
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

black finishUSA6 strings-25 inches scale-length-
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

-USA6 strings-25 inches scale-length-
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

-USA6 strings---
ModelTone controlsVolume controlsPickup selector controlsNumber of control knobsControls materialEQ or mix controls
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

1 tone control1 volume control2-way selector switch---
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

1 tone control1 volume control----
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

1 tone control1 volume control2-way selector switch---
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

2 tone controls2 volume controls3-way selector switch4 control knobs--
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

2 tone controls2 volume controls1 pickup selector switch, 3-way selector switch---
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

2 tone controls2 volume controls3-way selector switch4 control knobsblack controls-
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

-----mix control
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

2 tone controls2 volume controls3-way selector switch---
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

2 tone controls2 volume controlsphase switch---
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

2 tone controls2 volume controlsphase switch---
ModelPickups configurationPickups brand and modelInput and output jack type
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

1 single coil pickup--
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

-Rickenbacker Single Coil Toaster Top pickup(s)-
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

1 single coil pickupRickenbacker Single Coil Toaster Top pickup(s)-
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

2 single coil pickups--
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

2 single coil pickups, 3 pickupsRickenbacker Single Coil Toaster Top pickup(s)-
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

2 single coil pickupsRickenbacker Hi-Gain pickup(s), Rickenbacker Single Coil Toaster Top pickup(s)-
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

-Rickenbacker chrome bar pickup(s)mono output jack
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

2 single coil pickupsRickenbacker Hi-Gain pickup(s)-
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

2 humbucker pickups--
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

3 single coil pickupsRickenbacker Hi-Gain pickup(s)-
ModelBody materialBody stylePickguard materialBody shape features
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

maple bodytulip stylegold pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

maple bodycresting wave stylewhite pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

maple body-white pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

--black pickguarddouble cutaway
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

maple bodycresting wave stylemetal pickguard, white pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

-cresting wave stylewhite pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

----
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

maple bodycresting wave stylewhite pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

maple bodycresting wave stylewhite pickguard-
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

maple bodycresting wave stylewhite pickguard-
ModelFingerboard materialFingerboard position markersFingerboard inlay material
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

rosewood fingerboarddot fingerboard position markers-
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

rosewood fingerboarddot fingerboard position markers-
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

rosewood fingerboarddot fingerboard position markers-
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

rosewood fingerboarddot fingerboard position markers-
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

rosewood fingerboarddot fingerboard position markerspearl fingerboard inlay material
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

---
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

-triangle fingerboard position markerspearl fingerboard inlay material
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

rosewood fingerboarddot fingerboard position markers-
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

-triangle fingerboard position markerspearl fingerboard inlay material
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

-dot fingerboard position markerspearl fingerboard inlay material
ModelNeck jointNeck materialNumber of fretsTuner layoutNeck width
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

neck through bodymaple neck21 fret--
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

neck through bodymaple neck21 fret--
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

neck through bodymaple neck21 fret--
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

bolt on neck-24 fretthree-each-side-
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

neck through bodymaple neck21 fretthree-each-side1.69 inches wide at nut
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

neck through body-21 fretsix-per-side tuners1.625 inches wide at nut
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

---three-each-side-
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

bolt on neckmaple neck24 fretthree-each-side-
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

bolt on neckmaple neck24 fret--
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

bolt on neckmaple neck24 fret--
ModelBridgeHardware colorTailpiece
RICKENBACKER 400 (COMBO)
1956 to 1958

---
RICKENBACKER 420
1965 to 1984

fixed bridgechrome hardware-
RICKENBACKER 425
1958 to 1973

tremolo bridgechrome hardware-
RICKENBACKER 430
1971 to 1982

---
RICKENBACKER 450 (COMBO)
1957 to 1984

fixed bridgechrome hardware-
RICKENBACKER 450/12
1964 to 1985

-chrome hardware-
RICKENBACKER 460
1961 to 1985

---
RICKENBACKER 480
1973 to 1984

bridge-coverchrome hardwaretrapeze tailpiece
RICKENBACKER 481
1973 to 1984

bridge-coverchrome hardwaretrapeze tailpiece
RICKENBACKER 483
1973 to 1984

bridge-coverchrome hardwaretrapeze tailpiece