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In-Depth & Hands-On

REVIEW: The Rickenbacker 620

Disclosure Policy | Mon, Jun 19, 2006 | 195 |
Review of the Rickenbacker 620 GuitarHigh Sustain, Unique Tone & Style

Unless you hang out in the right circles you really don’t hear much about Rickenbacker these days, which is really a shame when you consider that they continue to produce high-quality guitars, with truly one-of-a-kind styling and craftsmanship.

In fact, in a world where badly-conceived Stratocaster and Les Paul clones abound, Rick’s unique form factor, finishes, and American-Made quality come as a real breath of fresh air.

My favorite of Rickenbacker’s six-string offerings (and the one I have the most experience with) is easily the Rickenbacker 620 — a guitar that epitomizes what the company is known for: style, tone, and attitude. It’s also quite possibly Rickenbacker’s least known guitar.

What We Liked

It’ll come as no surprise that the Rick 620 excels at jangly tones — a feature that made Rickenbacker guitars one of the signature sounds of the ’60s psychedelic era — but this unique looking guitar has a whole lot else up its sleeve.

The Rickenbacker 620’s high-gain pickups produce an unbelievably lush tone in the neck position, and because it also sports mono and stereo outputs — that’s right… stereo guitar outputs! — you can route the 620 into a pair of guitar amplifiers, creating a wave of sound that really has to be heard to be appreciated.

Add a good stereo chorus effect to the mix and you’ve got a lush, undulating sound like no other.

And those same high-gain pickups make for great, warm over-driven tones, too; particularly in conjunction with a nice tube amp. Add in the 620’s legendary sustain — yes, some people even complain that it’s too much sustain — and you’ve got a guitar that is an absolute dream for playing long, stretched-out leads.

In all honesty (sorry Gibson & Fender,) the Rickenbacker 620 has the lowest action, and fastest playing neck I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. The slim, maple double-bound neck fits easy in the hand, and the highly polished rosewood fretboard is adorned with sleek triangular pearloid inlays.

Topping off its incredible playability is the 620’s innovative solid maple “Cresting Wave” cutaway body design — which is deceptively light-weight, and beautifully carved. Other cool features include a seriously stylin’ chrome Rickenbacker “R” tailpiece, two each volume and tone controls, 3-way pickup switching, and of course those cool mono/stereo outputs.

What We Didn’t Like

Well, honestly there is very little I would actually call “bad” about this guitar, though there are certainly aspects of its design that might turn some people off — for one thing, like a lot of my favorite guitars the Rickenbacker 620 isn’t particularly versatile.

What I mean to say is… well, it’s a Rick, and you’re never going to make it sound like a Strat. But then again, you’re never going to make your Strat sound like a Rick either, so I guess it balances itself out.

Another minor quirk that kind of got to me was the “R” tailpiece, which in spite of its good looks is rather difficult to string-up (hint: whatever you do, make sure you replace one string at a time — which is something you should be doing anyways.)

Specifications

Solid maple body, double-bound maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with 21 frets and pearloid triangle inlays, six-saddle bridge, Schaller tuners, Rickenbacker high-gain humbucker pickups, 3-way pickup switching, dual volume & tone controls, thru-body neck, mono/stereo outputs.

Final Word

In my mind the Rickenbaker 620 is one of the truly great guitars currently being produced, and I have no problem saying that if you’re in the market for a uniquely-styled instrument, with a clear, lush tone and incredible sustain, well… you’d be hard pressed to find a better guitar at this price range.

The 620 is in a class all its own.