Often referred to as the Holy Grail of Beatles guitars, the Rickenbacker 325 has been Lennon's faithful companion since his early days in Hamburg to the Beatlemania years…
Another iconic instrument, symbol of the Beatlemania years, the Rickenbacker 325 is John Lennon's first American guitar and the instrument he is most associated with as a former Beatle. John buys his first 325 in the fall of 1960, during his time in Hamburg, Germany, when the Beatles are still in their early days. George Harrison doesn't know how he could afford it or if he paid for it in full, but the guitar quickly becomes part of the band's history. It's a 1958 325 Capri (serial #V81), a short-scale hollow body with three “toasters” and a gold pickguard. John becomes so attached to it that he calls it “the most beautiful guitar”. However, the guitar undergoes many changes over the years. The main ones are the replacement of the original Kaufmann vibrato with a Bigsby B-5 and a color change from natural to black. John uses it in the early and challenging years of the Beatles, and the guitar is his faithful companion from the club days in Hamburg to the first American appearance on February 9, 1964, on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York.
On that occasion, the Rickenbacker staff secures a meeting with the band to showcase some of their latest models. Among them is a special 1964 Rickenbacker 325 (serial #DB122) updated and designed as a replacement for the now-worn 1958 325. In a few days, the guitar is in John's hands. Just in time for February 16, 1964, at the Deauville Hotel in Miami, when the Beatles record the second episode for the Ed Sullivan Show. This new guitar differs from the previous one with a thinner body, the original black "JetGlo" color with a white pickguard, and an extra knob to blend the pickups.
In addition to these, two more 325s passed through John's hands: a special Rickenbacker 325/12 (very similar to the 1964 325 but with twelve strings, produced at Lennon's request during the Miami meeting and delivered to him in March 1964) and a Rickenbacker 325 Rose-Morris Model “1996” in "FireGlo" finish (as a temporary replacement for the main 325, which was temporarily damaged). However, the 1964 JetGlo 325 will become Lennon's main live and studio instrument during the Beatlemania years and one of the most recognizable instruments of the early Beatles period.
The one in the photo is a Rickenbacker 325V63 JetGlo, a reissue of John Lennon's 'Miami' 325.