Pete Townshend

1966 Rickenbacker 1998 RM (three pickups with vibrato)

One of the few 1966 '1998 RM's' that has survived in spite of the great Pete Townshend! This fifteen inch-wide, full-sized thin-body (just under 1 5/8 inches deep) export guitar weighs just 7.90 lbs. Featuring a maple body finished in the typical 1966 dark red to black color, with a single "f" soundhole, and offset cutaways with pointed horns providing a "sweeping crescent" profile across the top. Three-piece maple/walnut/maple neck with a nut width of just under 1 5/8 inches, a scale length of 24 3/4 inches and a medium to thick profile. Rosewood fretboard with 21 original medium frets and white dot position markers. Headstock with white opaque plastic logo plate with black lettering secured by three screws. Serial number "FB 438" (February 1966) stamped onto the jack plate. Individual single-line Kluson Deluxe tuners with oval metal buttons (stamped on the underside "D-169400 Patent No.". Three Rickenbacker chrome bar "toaster" pickups with outputs of 3.95k, 3.94k and 8.34k (that's how the Ricky three-pickup models measure). Two-piece split-level white plastic pickguard secured by four screws. Five controls (two volume, two tone, and one blend control) plus three-way pickup selector switch, all on lower level of pickguard. Seven-sided black plastic control knobs with plain metal tops (as per export models). All five of the potentiometers are stamped "137 6601" (CTS January 1966). Inside the control cavity the body, marked in green paint are the letters "345-K." The serial number "FB 438" (February 1966) is stamped onto the jack plate. Rickenbacker six-saddle bridge and separate Rickenbacker vibrato tailpiece. The guitar did not have it's vibrato arm (just like Pete Townshend's) but we have now fitted an exact replica arm. This guitar is in exceptionally fine (9.00) condition with just the bare minimum of belt buckle scarring on the back, a few small surface marks on the back and edges and two very small marks/indentations on the back of the neck behind the second and twelfth frets. There is some very minor playing wear affecting the first three frets only and also some slight playing wear to the treble side of the fretboard by the first and second frets. Housed in its original Rickenbacker three-latch, rectangular silver hardshell case with black leather ends and blue plush lining (8.75).

Rose, Morris of London became the distributors for Rickenbacker guitars in 1964. "Model 1997 (two pickups) and Model 1998 (three pickups) -- The 1997 and 1998 were the two most popular export models. Their American counterparts were the Model 335 and the Model 345, respectively. The F sound hole distinguished both full sized export models from the American editions; the U.S. versions rarely had F holes. Rose, Morris offered only the vibrato versions of the six string hollow body models. The British called the 1997 and 1998 "slim-line guitars." The British price for the 1997 with a case was 159gns and the price for the 1998 with a case was 170gns…

Pete Townshend - the windmill wizard who helped bring us the Marshall stack and spoke for so many generations used a Rickenbacker 1998 from 1964 through 1967. My generation vividly remembers him thrashing on his favored 'chord-machine' - the Rose Morris Rickenbacker model 1998 and the classic chimes of 'My Generation' (1965) were from a 1998…

"Early in Pete’s career, Rickenbackers were the guitars to have. The British Invasion was led using Rickenbackers (with the Beatles and, in America, the Byrds, being probably the most renowned users of Ricks). Not only were Ricks his first persistent stage guitar, they helped define the early Who recordings, from I Can’t Explain, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (both likely using the 1964 360/12 “Export”) and My Generation (a Rose, Morris Co., Ltd, 1998), into the second LP. Pete used (and abused) various Rickenbacker models, which were imported by the Rose, Morris Co., Ltd, which still operates as a music store in London (, Shaftesbury Ave. These models were export variations on their American counterparts… The 1998 was pictured in the infamous “Maximum R&B” Marquee Club poster. This guitar was the first (of many) to turn to smithereens, when its neck snapped off against the ceiling of the Railway Hotel, Harrow and Wealdstone, in September 1964 (according to Eyewitness The Who, 8 September): “I started to knock the guitar about a lot, hitting it on the amps to get banging noises and things like that and it had started to crack. It banged against the ceiling and smashed hole in the plaster and the guitar head actually poked through the ceiling plaster. When I brought it out the top of the neck was left behind. I couldn’t believe what had happened. There were a couple of people from art school I knew at the front of the stage and they were laughing their heads off. One of them was literally rolling about on the floor laughing and his girlfriend was kind of looking at me smirking, you know, going ‘flash cunt and all that’. So I just got really angry and got what was left of the guitar and smashed it to smithereens. About a month earlier I’d managed to scrape together enough for a 12-string Rickenbacker, which I only used on two or three numbers. It was lying at the side of the stage so I just picked it up, plugged it in and gave them a sort of look and carried on playing, as if I’d meant to do it. “The next day I was miserable about having lost my guitar. Roger said, ‘You shouldn’t have smashed it up, I could have got it repaired for you.’ Anyway, I’d obliterated it.” Pete claims he smashed only about eight Rickenbackers total. He would repair destroyed ones for further stage use and eventually, began using another, more solid-bodied guitar that could withstand the smash-up routine and be repairable. Pete continued to use Rickenbackers on stage and in the studio through 1965 and 1966… " (Who tabs).

Unlike most fads started by the Beatles, the Rickenbacker guitar craze had musical substance. The young musicians following the Beatles' lead found that they achieved a new, unique sound using Rickenbackers. The export line was successful and ironically, helped the company find a whole new market in the United Sates. The British bands introduced Rickenbackers to many young Americans. In fact, during the British invasion some American guitarists actually thought Ricks came from England or Germany. In 1969 the relationship between Rose, Morris and Rickenbacker ended because the guitar company found it advantageous to change distributors. Nevertheless, the Rose, Morris connection had fused the Rickenbacker name to the sound of the British invasion groups. This British sound, still widely imitated, had a profound effect on popular music as we know it." (Richard R. Smith. The History of Rickenbacker Guitars, pp. 220-221).

According to Richard Smith's fine book there were a total of just 276 1998 model guitars shipped sold through Rose Morris from 1964-1967. 1964 (126); 1965 (50); 1966 (50) & 1967 (50). All 50 of the 1966 guitars were finished in a unique Red Autumnglo. (#2184)

Reverb Buyer Protection

Reverb has your back if your item is lost, damaged, or doesn't match its description. Simply report any issues within 7 days and we'll help you get a full refund.Learn more about Reverb Buyer Protection.

Listed6 months ago
ConditionExcellent (Used)
Excellent items are almost entirely free from blemishes and other visual defects and have been played or used with the utmost care.learn more
  • 345 Rose Morris 1998
  • Autumnglo (shaded with red and black)
  • 1966
Made In
  • United States
Fretboard Material
  • Rosewood
Color Family
  • Brown
Body Material
  • Maple
Pickup Configuration
  • SSS
Neck Construction
  • Set-Neck
Fretboard Radius
  • 10"
Body Shape
  • Double Cutaway
Right / Left Handed
  • Right Handed
Body Type
  • Semi-hollow Body
Number of Strings
  • 6-String
Neck Material
  • Maple
Offset Body
  • No
Finish Pattern
  • Sunburst
Finish Style
  • Gloss
Bridge/Tailpiece Type
  • Tremolo Tailpiece
Finish Features
  • Matching Headstock
Number of Frets
  • 21

Reverb Protection

Simple Returns, Secure Transactions, Human Support

Learn more

Secure Checkout

Fretted Americana, Inc

Calabasas, CA, United States
Joined Reverb:2016

Reverb Gives

Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music.

Carbon-Offset Shipping

Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments.

Oops, looks like you forgot something. Please check the fields highlighted in red.