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F.C. Hall – The Modern Era Of Rickenbacker Electric Guitars


Francis C. (F.C.) Hall was born in the state of Iowa in 1909. In 1919 his family relocated to Santa Ana, California. F.C. learned the value of hard work at an early age by working in the family retail business. By the time he was in high school, F.C. had developed a strong interest in electronics. F.C. started a small battery recharging business that evolved into battery




manufacturing by the time he was 18 years old. His battery manufacturing business led to the creation of the very successful Radio and Television Equipment Company (R.T.E.C., also known as Radio – Tel).

F.C. Hall And Leo Fender

In the early 1940’s F.C. Hall entered the music industry when it came to his attention that a small radio repair business in nearby Fullerton consistently purchased a large amount of electronic parts every month. The owner of that small radio repair shop was Leo Fender and he



 






 

F.C. Hall Fender Guitar advertisement

was buying parts to build electric lap steel guitars and amplifiers. Hall, seeing an economic opportunity, formed a partnership with Leo Fender. Fender controlled the designing and manufacturing while Hall provided financing and marketing. Hall’s goal was to set up a national distribution


network for Fender guitars and amplifiers.


In 1946 F.C. Hall began distributing Fender guitars and amplifiers through the Radio and Television Equipment Company. He entered the electric guitar business at a time when most investors considered it to be a risky, foolish investment. F.C. Hall was one of the first business men to envision the economic potential of electrically amplified music.




F.C. Hall Buys The Electro String Company From Adolph Rickenbacker

In 1953 F.C. Hall sold his interest in Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company to Leo Fender. He then purchased the Electro String Instrument Corporation from Adolph Rickenbacker and associates. The music scene had changed dramatically after World War II. Big Band music gave way to rhythm and blues, boogie woogie and country swing. Big Bands were replaced by small combos. The road houses, dance halls and honkey tonks were born. By the time F.C. Hall bought Electro String, their high quality Bakelite non-pedal steel guitars were no longer in demand. The Spanish style guitar had taken control of the market.

1956 Rickenbacker Combo 600 Rickenbacker 4000 bass

F.C. Hall released two Spanish style electric guitars, the Combo 600 and the Combo 800. These two guitars were designed by Electro String co-founder and plant manager Paul Barth. German born designer Roger Rossmeisi, who had resigned from Gibson, was brought in. Rossmeisi created a solid body electric guitar in 1956 where the neck extended all the way through the body to the bridge. This design was more labor intensive, but produced a rounder sound. It also had more sustain and stayed in tune longer. Rossmeisi also incorporated a second truss rod in the neck design to control not only curvature, but twist as  



well. Today, we call Rossmeisi’s creation a neck through body design. Rickenbacker was the first company to effectively mass produce neck through body designed guitars. That design,

 

along with the double truss rods have become well known company trademarks.

Also in 1956, the model 4000 electric bass guitar was debuted. This was the first electric bass guitar to feature Rossmeisi’s neck through design. Today, the Rickenbacker 4000 series bass guitar still sets the standard for sustain and tone.

bolt on necks were produced. The single and double coil pickups were redesigned. It was during this time period that Rickenbacker received a patent for guitar frets slanted at an angle to better align the neck with the player’s hand. The double neck models came on line with the model #4080 Bass/Guitar and the model #362/12, which was a 6/12 string guitar combo. While the guitar sales slowed, bass sales remained strong. Guitar sales increased significantly in the later 1970’s when bands such as Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and R.E.M., who used Rickenbacker Guitars, gained popularity.





George Harrison with Rickenbacker Model 360/12 Rickenbacker Convertables Guitar Tom Petty with Rickenbacker

California.

This increased production capabilities and Rickenbacker added several new models to its lineup. The hollow body #4005 four string bass was introduced. It was also available in a six string version, the #4005-6. The Convertables series, which enabled the player to convert a six string into a twelve string with an adjustment lever on the neck, was created. The Light Show guitar, the model #331, featured an internally illuminated body that flashed psychedelically when the guitar was played. Rickenbacker also successfully marketed the Phantasmagorian, a kaleidoscopic light projector during this time period.

During the early 1970’s, Rickenbacker guitars with  

in the movie A Hard Day’s Night, it stirred huge international demand. During the British Invasion of the 1960’s, sales of Rickenbacker guitars and basses increased dramatically.

This sudden surge in sales orders required F.C. Hall to expand manufacturing facilities. In 1964 Radio Television Equipment Company became Rickenbacker Incorporated. Hall then moved Rickenbacker to Santa Ana in Orange County,

In 1958, the double cutaway, semi hollowbody Capri series was introduced. This line would evolve into the 300 series. The model 325 became closely associated with John Lennon after the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. This association propelled Rickenbacker guitars to international stardom. The fact that many Beatle fans thought that Rickenbacker was an English company just fueled the fire. When George Harrison used F.C. Hall’s  





newly invented electric twelve string guitar (the Rickenbacker model 360/12)   

John Lennon with Rickenbacker Model 325

Rickenbacker Guitars And The British Invasion

to his son John. At that time the name was changed to Rickenbacker International Corporation. F.C. Hall died on August 30, 1999 at age ninety of heart failure. Today, the company still produces everything in house at the factory in Santa Ana, California. Instrument production can’t keep up with demand and they are back ordered two years. It is an American company that refuses to outsource to other countries. It is debt free and solely owned by the Hall Family. F.C. Hall was one of the first to

recognize the economic potential of amplified music. He was a businessman, not a musician. Without his financial investment, Leo Fender probably would have failed. Hall applied his marketing and production theories to Electro String Company in 1953 and created legendary Rickenbacker International Corporation.

Leo Fender and F.C. Hall

F.C. Hall; An American Success Story

F.C. Hall retired in September of 1984, leaving control of the business