When it comes to guitars, my pride & joy is a 1991 Rickenbacker 360. This beautiful six-string was a gift from my wife (is she the coolest or what?) after years of pointing them out on stage at concerts or club shows. One day, I’ll share the whole story; today, I want to tell you about a new discovery that has lifted this axe to a whole new level for me.
For the uninitiated, many Rickenbackers have two output jacks. One is a standard mono output that mixes both pickups and sends them along to your amp, like most other guitars. But the Rick also has a second jack labeled “Rick-o-Sound” that with the right cabling, makes it stereo.
Through the Rick-o-Sound jack, the bridge (which Rick calls “treble”) and neck (“bass”) pickups are wired separately. This means you can run your Rick into two different amps or amp channels and play in stereo.
I’ve never really played with it much. For one, up until about three weeks ago, I only had one amp. For two, I didn’t have the right gear to do it. Essentially, you need a 1/4″ stereo plug to separate to two 1/4″ monos. I tried an “insert” cable (often used for send/return from a mixer to an outboard effect), which works, but limits just how far you can go from your amps. What I really wanted was a Rick-o-Sound kit that used to be available from Rickenbacker. And while they still wire many of their guitars with the Rick-o-Sound plug, they no longer make nor sell the Rick-o-Sound box.
So I did something I’ve never done before — I built one myself. With a few searches, I came up with instructions on the Rickenbacker support forum (click here to see my source; look a few posts down from “Ricknut63). A trip to Radio Shack and $10 later, I had all the makings for my own Rick-o-Sound box.
It’s a stereo 1/4″ jack mounted in a project box, then wired to two 1/4″ mono jacks. I followed the instructions, soldered everything together, screwed on the lid and viola, I had my first ever electronics project. (Note: my electronics expertise is with Macintosh computers. I’ve been inside (and fixed) nearly every kind of Mac since the SE. It’s just the soldering thing I could never get down, and I’m ashamed to say I can’t read a schematic)
I then ran a stereo cable from my guitar into the new box, then connected my Vox Cambridge Reverb and my Epiphone Valve Junior to each of the mono outputs. Using the controls on the Rick itself, you can control the tone going to each amp along with the level going to each amp. I sampled the bridge in the Vox and the neck in the Epi, then switched them, then put different effects in each chain, tried moving the amps around…I spent almost two hours trying all kinds of different stereo setups and I’ve only scratched the surface!
If you’re a Rick player and have never gone to the stereo side, it’s time to give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.
Addendum: Here’s a clearer image of how everything is wired. Unfortunately, the original post this referred to is no longer available.
- The tip of the stereo jack is wired to the tip of the bridge mono jack. (on my jacks, it’s the bottom lug of the stereo to the bottom lug of the bridge mono; it’s the red wire in the image below)
- The “middle” sleeve of the stereo jack is wired to the tip of the neck mono jack. (on my jacks, it’s the middle lug on the stereo jack to the bottom lug of the neck mono; it’s the green wire)
- The sleeves of the mono jacks are both wired to the inner sleeve of the stereo jack (on my jacks, it’s the top lug on both monos to the top lug on the stereo; it’s the two black wires.)
Thanks, and good luck!