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Like most modern Rickenbackers, the Model 381 was designed by Roger Rossmeisl and has elegant lines.  This model shows its designer's European influences with it's artistic body shape, German carve top and back, "slash" F hole, and triangle fingerboard inlays.  The Model 381 was produced in three series, the first running from 1958 to 1963.  These are very rare.  It was re-introduced in 1969 and produced through 1973 and used successfully (and most famously) by John Kay of Steppenwolf.  Sometime during 1969, the "toaster" pickups were changed to Rickenbacker's new Hi-Gain single coil units.  In 1987, Rickenbaker reissued the Model 381 with early 1969 specifications.  Dubbed the 381V69, and available as the 381V69/12 12-string, the guitar remains in Rickenbacker's current line-up.  With it's hand carved body, premium woods (even the headstock "wings" are flamey!), and checker binding, the Model 381 arguably was, and still is, Rickenbacker's fanciest guitar.  According to Rickenbacker CEO John Hall, this model is the most difficult to build since the wood selection process limits the amount of basic material to begin with, the four piece carved front and back are very labor intensive as is the specialized buffing technique.  The 381 requires Rickenbackers best craftsmen and no more than five of these are produced in any given week.  As such it's also the model with the longest wait, often six months or more.

RICKENBACKER 381V69  (February 2001)


Body: Semi-hollow; flame maple, single bound carved top and carved back

Finish:  Natural ("Mapleglo"), conversion varnish

Neck:  3-piece maple/walnut, set-in

Fingerboard:  African rosewood (bubinga), bound;  pearloid triangle markers

Number of Frets:  21

Pickguard:  1-ply white acrylic

Bridge:  Tune-a-matic style with trapeze tailpiece

Nut:  Plastic

Tuners:  Ric/Schaller "Kluson Deluxe" style, enclosed, nickel

Pickups:  Two, Rickenbacker "toaster" single coil

Controls:  Volume and tone for each pickup, blend control, 3-way pickup selector switch

Scale Length:  24 3/4 inches

Neck Width at Nut:  1 5/8 inches

Body Width at Lower Bout:  15 inches

Body Depth:  2 1/2 inches

Weight:  n/a 

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