(above) TWO FAVORITES
(below) MY WORKSHOP
Studio California and Paul Wilczynski
In 1964. I picked up my first guitar--a Japanese-made cheap acoustic that belonged to a friend. I had little idea about quality or playability. It was hard to fret, must've sounded pretty bad, but, hey! it was a guitar, and I could pick out notes if I sat there with it long enough. Yeah, my fingers bled.
I began to absorb anything I could read on guitars, and from the start, I was crazy about a sunburst Fender Jaguar I saw in a shop window in downtown Chicago. It was my dream guitar. All those switches and buttons! Carl Wilson played a white one, and I loved the crisp, percussive sound he got out of it, playing through a tube reverb unit and his Dual Showman. So, for awhile (about 15 months), Fenders were IT as far as I was concerned.
Then I played my first Rickenbacker.
I've been impressed and obsessed with Rickenbacker guitars and basses since I picked up my first 360/12, on the evening of November 20, 1965. I was a beginning player, and I'd just turned 17. I'd been playing cheap six-string Japanese acoustic and electric "guitars", which in those days were nothing special, with high action and mediocre sound. A friend of a friend brought his new Fireglo 12-string Rickenbacker around for us to see, and from the moment I picked it up, I was smitten. I'd never felt anything so solidly built yet lightweight, with such amazingly low and easy action. I became a lifelong Rickenbacker fan that evening!
I played in bands on and off until I got married in 1969, and family life and the need to follow my career--Industrial Design--took over every minute of my waking life. I dabbled in playing and bought and sold Fender guitars here and there, but Rickenbackers became a Holy Grail vision--out of sight and mind.
In 2004, I decided that I would finally get serious about playing guitar, and set about acquiring a Rickenbacker 12-string of my own. I did some internet reading and Ebay searches and was happily surprised to learn that the Company was located in Southern California and was very much in business!
I bought a new 660/12 in Montezuma Brown, and then, two weeks later, a matching six-string 381V69. Many more have followed since then...
I made a few modifications to those two Rickenbackers; nothing irreversible, you understand, just things like laser-engraved truss rod covers, different pick guard treatments, and swapping out parts from different Rickenbacker models.
In early March, 2004, I received an email from John Hall, RIC CEO, which began a correspondence and led to an invitation to visit the Rickenbacker factory later that month. This began a long-term obsession with Rickenbacker products.
A couple of months later, after posting a couple of my own Rickenbackers in their finished, modified state, I was approached by my first restoration customer to resurrect his much-abused and bondo-laden Jetglo 1967 330. I stripped it, repaired its cracks and bruises, and refinished it in Autumnglo at the customer's request. He was very happy with the result. After posting photos of my work in Peter McCormack's Rickenbacker Resource forum, I was inundated with work, a situation that has continued to the present day.
Since roughly July of 2004, I've restored and refinished about 500 Rickenbacker instruments and perhaps another 50 guitars of other brands, for customers on every continent except Antarctica. I have also built about 40 Rickenbacker acoustic guitars under license, and continue the Company's acoustic tradition under my own brand, Madeleine Strings.
The projects shown on this site represent about 20% of my total output since 2005. I've shown the projects that I'd like to see if I was a visitor to this site. The more pedestrian projects (which, to be honest, are my true bread and butter) are shown in one example. I mean, really, how many Jetglo 360s would you look at if I was to display photos of them all? The same goes for Fireglo 4003s...
My work has been featured in books and magazines, and my reputation among musicians and enthusiasts has led to commissions from knowledgeable professionals and musical legends, as well as walk-in and mailed-in business from amateurs from all walks of life.
I work to the highest standards, and can build, repair, refinish, or restore virtually any guitar. I can help you to simply spruce up your old favorite a bit, or I can build the instrument of your dreams.
I welcome the opportunity to quote on whatever project or projects that you may have in mind. Please enjoy some leisure time on this site--there are hundreds of photos of my work, and ideas that can provide both inspiration and reassurance that I'm the craftsman you've been seeking to work on your treasured Rickenbacker, Fender, or other fine guitar or bass.
You can reach me at my personal e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, and see more of my work on Instagram, where I post under the name "amazingricks".
Good design continues to inform my approach to luthiery. See also the pages which follow, on my Madeleine Strings instruments and our latest Pulstar guitars, which are a revival of the Light Show concept first seen on Rickenbackers, with an original, patented solid body design and unique headstock.