The Rickenbacker 381 model is 1 of the most radical designed guitars ever produced. Its deep & rich Fireglo finish is absolutely stunning over its incredible carved body & neck w/only slight play time evedent. Its got 2 of their new Hi-Gain pickups known as the 381 pickup w/an "R" Tailpiece & no vibrato. Its got their signature "Crushed Pearl" Triangle inlaid fingerboard on their very flat profiled 3-piece neck. Its pickups are powerful w/its intricate 60's "Chang" tones like no Strat nor any Les Paul have. She's sporting her original double White pickgards w/a matching White Truss Rod Cover. Its pot codes date to the 8th week of 1968. Its marked inside its control cavity "381-U" in pencil. Its Individual double-line Kluson Deluxe tuners with oval metal buttons are near perfect shape. Its sports 5 chrome capped Black Volume & Tone knobs. This is a highly unusual 381 model from May 1969 (w/its "IE" serial # date code) & was an early example having many experimental features.
We owned the 1958 381 Prototype 30 years ago & it was basically a fat bodied Capri model. The new 381 model was a far stretch from the original 50's Prototype. The talented folks at Rickenbacker really went overboard on these utilizing their carving skills. This is the earliest all original example we've owned of all the 26 381's produced in this 1st run. This 381's body dimensions are far from their standard specs of 2 1/2" having a near 3" body depth as compared to any of their later post-May 1969 run as well as their newer Reissues which were made much thinner & lighter. In fact when you look down the side of its body, this 381 has a thinner carved top & a far thicker carved back in comparison (see photos) to any made at the time & because of this she weighs in @ 8 lbs. 13 oz. Word was that Rick started them thinner in 1968...then for a few months made them thicker for experimental reasons but by the summer made them thin again.
Rickenbacker collector Ron O'Keefe has 2 of these early 381's & stated Rick made only 2 examples in 1968 & 3 examples in January 1969 having the original type Toaster pickups aboard. This 381 has the "new" High-Gain pickups far more powerful than the Toasters. These early High-Gain pickups have "Green" bobbins w/small adjustable height screw pole pieces before they changed to a non-adjustable type by 1970. She comes in a cool 90's Silver case. She's truly exceptionally clean & 100% original that would be a highlight to any great guitar collection.
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