1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri and

2003 Rickenbacker 325c58 “Hamburg”

John Lennon purchased his first American guitar in the Fall of 1960 while the Beatles were playing in Hamburg, Germany. The guitar was a 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri with rare factory Solid Top. It was approximately a 4/5th scale, hollow body electric with three pick-ups. Lennon's 325 was made of Alder and originally had a Natural finish, a gold nameplate and pick guard, four "Oven" style knobs (originally built with only two knobs but two more were added on months later at the factory), an unfinished fret board, a long jack plate with stamped serial #V81 and a Kaufmann vibrola.

We are pleased to present these two 325 guitars from our collection, one is an authentic 1958 Rickenbacker 325 (serial #V93) and the other is a 2003 Rickenbacker 325C58 (a now discontinued model) reissued by the factory in Natural finish. 

The 1958 325 is all original and is in fact one of the guitars shipped with Lennon’s 325 to German distributor Framus Werke. Many enthusiasts believe this guitar may have been displayed alongside John Lennon’s guitar in Steinway-Haus music store, the Hamburg, Germany music shop where Lennon purchased his guitar. This guitar has slight cosmetic differences from Lennon’s 325.

The 325C58 is a factory reissue body, cosmetically resembling Lennon's guitar. The previous owner of the 325C58 had already removed all its reissue parts and we were lucky enough to be able to acquire just the body and serial number plate. We then sourced and installed all original vintage 1958 Capri parts, special custom wiring (replicating V93's original undisturbed wiring) and custom '50's spec Gold nameplate and pick guard. The result is a stunning Solid Top guitar identical to the one Lennon first fell in love with.
As the look and sound of the Beatles evolved, so did Lennon’s guitar. Dissatisfied with the original Kaufmann vibrola, sometime in 1961 Lennon decided to have a Bigsby B5 vibrato installed instead. At the same time, he also added a different set of "Radio" style control knobs. Lennon’s 1958 Rickenbacker 325 remained in this configuration until the Fall of 1962.

This “Cavern” 1958 325 from our collection is serial #V82 and was made alongside Lennon's guitar. Only about 32 short scale Capris were ever made in 1958, and V82 is the only other guitar that left the factory that year with the exact same specifications as Lennon's. It was also one of the other guitars that was shipped to German distributor, Framus Werke, along with Lennon's. Enthusiasts believe this guitar may have been the other guitar displayed alongside Lennon’s and V93 in Hamburg's Steinway-Haus music store. V82 was previously owned by musician Jamie Hoover. Hoover had the guitar restored and made modifications to replicate Lennon's guitar during the 1961-62 period. Once we acquired V82, we replaced all the reissue parts Hoover had installed with authentic vintage parts. Here is the complete set of modifications: Vintage Bigsby B5; Vintage Bowtie bridge; vintage "Radio" knobs; Custom '50's spec Gold pick guard; special custom wiring (replicating V93's original undisturbed factory wiring); vintage pick up selector switch tip; custom "long" jack plate made to exact original specs (chrome over brass); correct serial number stamp font.

1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri “Cavern”

John Lennon on stage with his 1958 Rickenbacker 325 “Capri” model.
On stage in 1962, John Lennon performs with his 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri Solid Top. Note the addition of a Bigsby B5 and “Radio” style knobs.

2002 Rickenbacker 325c58 “Star Club”

In late 1962, the Beatles fame was on the rise and the group started to dress in smart black suits and black boots with cuban heels while on stage. It was around this time that Lennon decided to have his 1958 325 Capri painted Black. The job was given to a local coach (truck) painter who first covered the original natural finish with a grey primer and then  brushed on black tekaloid coach paint! The electronics were apparently not reassembled properly and Lennon seemed to have some ongoing problems. Along with the new black paint, Lennon also changed the four control knobs to a Hofner "teacup" style. The 325 guitar from our collection seen here is a 2002 factory reissue 325C58 set-up with the same cosmetic modifications as Lennon's in late 1962.  We affectionately refer to it as the “Star Club” 325.

1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri “Sullivan”

In the Summer of 1963, Lennon's 325 was taken to Burns London for maintenance work. Burns fixed the electrics, performed a refret, and possibly touched up the black paint. During the refret process, Burns planed the fretboard (made of African Padauk) exposing fresh wood underneath which then appeared slightly orange in color. Over this, they applied a clear finish, perhaps to help counter the heavy wear Lennon seemed to be putting on the fret board. Finally, Burns also installed a set of their silver knobs. This is how Lennon's 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri looked when it was seen by millions on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The "Sullivan" 325 in our collection is an authentic 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri, serial #V101. The previous owner extensively modified this guitar in painstaking detail to precisely replicate all the changes performed by Lennon to his 325 Capri from 1961 to 1963. Our guitar is the only original one identical to Lennon’s “Sullivan” guitar that has ever been seen in the public eye.
Here is a complete summary of all the modifications: Original finish removed and black tekaloid coach paint brushed on over grey primer; 1/3 section of top that contained the original f-hole removed and replaced with a solid piece of matched vintage alder; Vintage Bigsby B5 with: black paint removed, Phillips arm screw and slot head Bigsby mounting screws; Vintage Bowtie bridge; Burns knobs; Custom '50's spec Gold pick guard; Larger Phillips pick guard screws; rubber grommets under pick guard removed; special custom wiring with the addition of an extra vintage volume and tone pots (replicating V93's original undisturbed factory wiring); Long black pick up selector switch tip; Fretboard lightly lacquered; Small jack plate replaced with custom "long" jack plate made to exact original specs (chrome over brass); correct serial number stamp font.

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