30s - 40s
M & B Series
TR & R Series
Public Address

Homesteading the Audiosphere

It is common knowledge that Rickenbacker invented the electric guitar. Doing so, they had to invent the guitar amplifier as well. This fact has never been acknowledged by the media, partly due to the fact amplifiers are basically as un-groovy as possible, partly because almost no influencial artist ever endorsed Rickenbacker amplifiers, with the notable exception of Steppenwolf.

While in the beginnings amplifiers were considered mere commodities, public recognition grew up slowly. Fender in the fifties, Vox and Marshall in the sixties, to name but a few, led to Mesa Boogie, Matchless, and finally today's slew of boutique amplifiers. History, however, is written by the victors and it is striking to look in more specialized literature for the brand which started it all, to no avail.

Here is my attempt at a site dedicated to Rickenbacker Amplifiers. I know it is flawed, graphically impaired, grossly incomplete, technically and historically inaccurate, and so forth. My only hope is it will be of some use to owners, Rick fans, amp buffs, and others, who'd like to know a bit more on these almost unknown amplifiers.


Various notes

On technology

Tracy Sands, Rickenbacker amps expert, wrote in a message on The Rickenbacker Forum:

M and B series amplifiers were cathode biased class A push-pull or single ended design similar to Fender's tweed Deluxe or Champ, and ranged in power from 6 to 35 watts. In early examples, the preamp cathodes are grounded and have a decidedly non-Fender character, although they do sound delightful! Later B series amplifiers are attempts at a knock-off of Fender's Twin Reverb, although they don't really make the grade on account of the lead dress, very high plate voltage, and poor transformer efficiency. Rickenbacker's Transonic Series and Fender's first solid-state amplifiers should be incredibly similar as they were both designed by the same engineer. Later Rickenbacker solid-state amplifiers (TR series etc.) don't have anything at all in common with Fender products of the same era...

See the related pages for more details and discussion.

On knobs

They give a good approximation of an amplifier's building date... when they have not been replaced.

  • No knob, or red bakelite: 1930s to 1940s.
  • Chicken-head: 1950s and beginning of 1960s (M Series).
  • Black, round base with a flat vertical hat: beginning of 1960s (Electro).
  • Round, grey, silver base with engraved numbers: 1960s (B Series).
  • Modern Rick knobs: 1970s (later B Series and TR Series).
  • Black cylinder: 1970s, Road amplifiers.
  • Black cylinder and yellow cap: 1980s.

On the end

In the nineties, the company decided to stop building amplifiers. John Hall, CEO, explained it was way too dangerous for the company to pursue an amplifier activity without a product liability insurance, which was too expensive. This decision put an end to 72 years of amplifier making, "15 more than anyone else".




This site is not nearly half done. Reasons for this are multiple, but all right - it's the very nature of the Web, after all.


This site is in no way associated with Rickenbacker International Corporation. Rickenbacker®, RIC, and logos are trademarks of Rickenbacker International Corp.