The Beatles' secret weapon is the world's most popular 12-string electric guitar that defines the sound of an era ever since George Harrison used it for “A Hard Day's Night”…
The 360/12 received by George Harrison in 1964 is one of the very first prototypes of Rickenbacker's 12-string electric guitar. Specifically, it is the second model of the 360/12 ever produced, dated 1963 with serial #CM107. It is also the very first guitar with “reversed” double strings compared to acoustic 12-strings (with the lower string above instead of below the higher one) to provide a better attack and that distinctive “jingle jangle” sound typical of Rickenbacker guitars.
To present the guitar to George, the president of Rickenbacker organizes a meeting at the Savoy Hotel in New York during the Beatles' first visit to America. However, George is confined to his room with the flu, and the entire entourage is forced to move to the Plaza Hotel just to reach him. Used frequently both live and in the studio, in a few months, the guitar becomes very famous thanks to the album and film A Hard Day's Night. A year later, for the Beatles' second American tour, George receives another 360/12, a “New Style” model from 1965, with a contoured top and binding only on the back, also in “Fireglo” finish. This new model is used during the Rubber Soul sessions for If I Needed Someone, a song also performed live during the 1966 Final Tour. The last time this Rickenbacker is seen is in March 1969 at Abbey Road's EMI Studios, where it seems to have been stolen.
The one in the photo is a Rickenbacker 360/12 V64 Fireglo, virtually identical to the model George Harrison received in 1964. Here it is in our very first video-cover of Paperback Writer.