What difference does it make? The forensic experts will point to the 1983 model for the perfect match - narrower headstock, different tuners. But play it and you'll be jumping in front of flying bullets for this one.
Whether it was the prominence Johnny Marr brought to it, a revitalised affection for all things 60s after a decade of denial, or a new generation brought up on the jagged electricity coming out of Paul Weller's Rickenbacker in The Jam, you'd be hard-pressed in the 80s to find a lyrically-poetic, guitar-based band without a Rickenbacker 330 somewhere in the mix. And that's as true today as it was then. The 330 is the guitar of choice for current bands like Blossoms - both Tom Ogden and Josh Dewhurst often to be seen toting a 330. Like a good friend over the years, these just get better with age!
See & Hear It In Action
Imagine: The Story Of The Guitar: Fantastic! Johnny talking about and playing the 330: "I wanted to sound like an entire record when I played."
This Charming Man (1983): Second single, first official video, The 330 was there from the start. How it should sound!
I Can't Stand It - Blossoms (2019): And it's still there today. The 330 a popular choice for 2019 Global Awards Best Indie award winners, Blossoms. Check out their performance at the awards night to see Josh Dewhurst with Jet-glo 330 in hand. The cycle of life continues!
Number of Frets
Schaller, M6 135
Rickenbacker Bridge & Cover
Rickenbacker "R" Tailpiece
Of all the major manufacturers, Rickenbacker fully deserves the archivist's Oscar - by far the most comprehensive collection of specs, brochures and history. Even down to the component numbers for each of the parts that goes into each guitar.
Which means there isn't that much to add to what Rickenbacker has already said. So, just one lesser-known fact. The distinctive sound-hole for which Rickenbackers are famous is called a "cat's eye slash". Nice.
The classic narrow neck, that lovely Rickenbacker bridge assembly, the Rickenbacker Hi-gain pick-ups, the distinctive "R" tailpiece, and that Tone Mixer knob all combine to give this guitar a lot more versatility than the "jangly" sound it's know for.
Having not rushed out to get hold of a 330 back in the 80s, it's a real eye-opener now to experiment with the sounds this guitar can put out. Huge tonal warmth with the Bridge pick-up and Tone Mixer on max, a Fender Bridge/Middle type twang on the combined pick-up setting, and, yes, the chiming jangle of the Bridge pick-up on its own. If may be famous for one sound, but this wonderful guitar has a lot more going for it.
Sources & Links
Rickenbacker 330 Spec, Schematic & Spec: Great detail from the specification chiefs, Rickenbacker.
1981 Rickenbacker Catalogue: Again, courtesy of those expert archivists at Rickenbacker - even going as far as sharing the Colour Chart from the early 80s:
Johnny Marr's 1983 Rickenbacker 330 Jet-glo: Page down through the brilliantly researched Smiths On Guitar to find the story behind one of Johnny Marr's most iconic guitars from The Smiths years (including those slimline Grover tuners). And spend more time on the page - the best website for insights into Johnny Marr's (and Andy Rourke's) gear.