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I am wondering whether anyone has any knowledge about getting the sound of a Rickenbacker… without actually owning one. Specifically on a Telecaster. I know that the two are completely different animals, and I appreciate that. I am just interested in whether or not there are any Amp/EQ settings that I could try, or if there are any software plugins out there that I could use.

Failing that, does the Epiphone 355 / Dot semi-hollowbody / Sheraton / Casino carry a sound with similar qualities to a Rickenbacker tone? Yet again, I appreciate that Ric's have a tone of their own, but there must be some way of getting something that resembles the sound (without paying upwards of £1300 for one).

Thanks very much for your time

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added telecaster tag –  Anonymous Jan 17 '11 at 18:53
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2 Answers

It kind of depends on what model Rickenbacker.

A Rickenbacker 6-string electric should sound a lot like your tele.

A Rickenbacker 12-string is a different beast, because of the octave and unison strings. I fired up a copy of "8 Miles High" from the Byrds, to see what I'd do, and I think the tele with a touch of chorus would come close.

The 12-string notes act like comb-filters as they vibrate, causing the same sort of sound changes as a chorus, so give that a try.


EDIT:

That sounds a lot like a 12-string Rickenbacker. You're hearing the octave notes, in addition to the slight comb-filter of the strings. The second part you can do with a chorus, or a very light flanger, but the octave part will be a lot harder to replicate. You could try a very light octave box effect, which would work for the bottom four strings, but the top two would not sound right, because they're typically tuned to unison notes. If it's not a 12-string, they have a very nice effect box on it, but I'm not sure what it would be. You could always ask them. :-)

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Sorry I should have clarified that in the question. The sound I am going after is from the 360/6 model. Specifically I am going after the indescribable (to me at least) sound the guitar produces. This is best showcased in the introduction to this song here: youtube.com/watch?v=53NcSbI8xI4 –  Ali Maxwell Jan 17 '11 at 18:57
    
Thank you. I was specifically reffering to the clean introduction you hear, which may have some form of effect. I have since found this video, here youtube.com/watch?v=kEwn-w5qRGg that shows the sound I am after a bit better. Only problem is the poor sound quality, sorry about that. I have found through much experimentation that boosting the mids a bit helps, but does not make much of a difference. –  Ali Maxwell Jan 17 '11 at 20:53
    
Ah, you're after the resonance and tones. The upper-mid-boost would help some. The Rickenbacker is a semi-hollow body which gives some of the sound too. If you like that sound, I'd recommend listening to some of The Plimsouls music. –  Anonymous Jan 17 '11 at 21:09
    
Thanks for the example. Hope I'm not stating the obvious, but beyond the Rick, the compressor he uses for that is a big part of the tone at the beginning of that tune. There's also subtle echo and, part way through, he kicks in a little chorus. The compressor is key, though. You don't get THAT tone without it. –  Anonymous Jan 18 '11 at 11:12
    
Thank you, I will try out using a compressor asap. Thanks. –  Ali Maxwell Jan 18 '11 at 16:27
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Before I got my first Ric I spent a long time playing a pretty generic Washburn guitar (previously owned by a Metalhead!)

With that guitar, I could sometimes get close to "the sound". There are elements to it that are, for some reason, unique to a Ric - don't know if it's the construction, the wiring, or what.

But there are some elements that are related to how you play the guitar. I've heard people play a Ric and it doesn't sound like a Ric (that goes for a surprising number of the guitar store demos on YouTube). On this video the Ric and the Tele are "cast against type", the Ric doing a fuzz-rhythm part and the Tele doing the melodic arpeggio stuff.

Another trick I learned as a kid was to record two tracks of the same guitar part, and allow the strings to be slightly detuned between the two takes. It creates a kind of natural chorus effect, but sounds better than any pedal. This is exactly what happens with a 12-string guitar on the top E and B strings, as they are identical pairs (unlike the other four strings which are octave-apart pairs). I first noticed this while listening carefully to Beatles records. This is actually demonstrated in the song you linked to in the comment to the Tin Man - you can hear one track at the beginning playing the riff, then a second track joins in. Makes a big difference.

There are imitation Rics. My local guitar shop has some, made by "Indie Guitars". I haven't tried them but I will check one out soon and update this answer.

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Hello, thanks for your answer. I have tried out the Indie models (the 'Mapleglo' 6 string) at my local Dawson's and it sounded ok, although I did not have enough time to test it out fully. When it comes to Rickenbackers, particularly the 360's, is there a wood block running down the centre of the body, leaving two hollow chambers either side, or one single chamber that extends throughout the body? Next time I record something, I will try your tip, thanks for that! –  Ali Maxwell Jan 18 '11 at 16:24
    
A guitar with a solid block down the center is what is usually meant when someone says "semi-hollow body guitar". –  Anonymous Jan 19 '11 at 19:44
    
Also, looking at the video @Earwicker referenced, at :57-ish in, the head of the Rick can be seen nicely. Changing the resolution to the highest setting shows it's a 12-string. It's important to differentiate between the 6-string 360/6 and the 12. Rickenbacker uses a slotted head with the tuners alternating in their position, so a casual glance can be fooling. As a caution, a video isn't necessarily the best evidence of the guitar providing the sound since, as Earwicker said, they could be doubling the part on a different guitar, only they don't show the primary sounding guitar right then. –  Anonymous Jan 19 '11 at 19:53
    
Yeah, I know, I am not going after sound of a 12-string, it is the tones on the hollowbodied 6 string I am after (ps, I may be wrong, but I think 'they' who produced the video is actually Earwicker himself) thanks :) –  Ali Maxwell Jan 19 '11 at 20:41
    
Yes, those are my videos. The Rics and the Gibson ES-335 have the solid block down the body, whereas often a Gretsch guitar (like my G6120AM) is a true "hollow body". It's a 6 string Ric 360 in We Do These Things. –  Anonymous Jan 20 '11 at 23:40
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