George Downing’s Rickenbacker-Style 12-String Bass

George Downing from Tennessee built this Rickenbacker-style 12-string bass in 2006 using the neck and electronics from a Galveston 12.

George writes, "This was a project for a friend of mine. Yes, he is a Cheap Trick fan. He bought a Galveston 12-string bass because he really wanted a 12-stringer, and that's what he could afford. It turned out to be a very nice playing bass despite the price and it being a mass produced import. The neck is quite nice actually but he hated the body. So we got to talking about making a new body for it and we both liked the Idea of using the classic Rickenbacker 4001 shape.”

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The wood is buckeye. Originally he wanted it painted black, with white binding. I chose the buckeye because it has super fine grain and would provide a nice smooth surface for the black. Plus, I have a bunch of it. However, when I showed him the wood he went all goofy over it, and so we did it dead clear with tortoise binding. All the hardware and electronics remained stock, manufacturer unknown.

The neck is bolted on. I considered gluing it in but was not confident that it would hold with all those strings. If I were to build one from scratch I would probably make a neck thru. What a huge sound! It really sounds like it has a chorus pedal on it. I'm gonna have to make me one someday. It's just too much fun to play!"

2006 Rickenbacker-Style 12-string bass, shown here with the original Galveston headstock.

The modified headstock.

When asked whether he worried that Rickenbacker might object to his use of one of their body styles, George responded, "I'm not too worried about what Rickenbacker might think. If they built a 12-string bass, this guy would have gladly sold two or three of his guitars to buy one. But they don't, nor do they seem to have any intention of doing so. In fact he inquired, and got a rather humorous response. something to do with a fish suspended by a dozen mono-filament lines. Also, the construction is almost entirely unlike that of a Rickenbacker, except for the fact that it's made of wood. To top it all off, I received no money for it, just did it to build my chops, as it were. In fact I think I spent about 25 bucks on binding, glue and sandpaper, so if Rickenbacker really wants a piece of the action, they can send me a fiver."