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 Post subject: My Harmony Central Review for 660/6
 Post Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2005 2:11 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 461
Location: Sydney, Australia
I wrote this rather long piece about my 660/6 recently for the user reviews at Harmony, someone may find it useful:

Features: 9
My 660/6 was made in 2002 and like all Rics was made in the USA. Specs are: 21 frets on a lacquered light reddish brown rosewood slab board with 'crushed pearl' vintage style 'sharkfin' markers that extend across the whole board to the white binding on each side. The neck itself is one piece of maple that is integral to the 'neck-through' design of the guitar. Scale is 24.75".

The solid body wings are of heavily tiger striped flamed maple, front and back. The body is bound in front with deluxe 'checker' binding and is of the cresting wave shape like the old 450's and 615's. The finish is a stunning dark cherry to pink-yellow 'Fireglo'.

The strings are (eventually) anchored in a vintage style U shaped tailpiece (which is my major but only gripe) and pass over chunky saddles on a bridge that is fully adjustable for intonation. The bridge sits on four rather skinny height adjustment screws that in turn sits on a metal plate on the neck/body. Vintage tuners like a 50's Strat apparently made by Schaller take up the slack on the classic Ric 3 a side headstock with it's iconic sword shaped name plate in gold lucite.

Pick-ups (pups) are vintage 'toaster' style and like all the hardware on the guitar are in a deep lustrous chrome, like an old Cadillac's bumper. Controls are 2 vols and 2 tones like most Gibsons, however they are NOT in the same configuration, with both vols at the bottom and both tones above them. A 3 way toggle switch does the standard pup switcing and a small 'blender' pot nob allows you to mix more of either pup into the overall sound. They all reside on a gold lucite/perspex scratch plate which is split level (and removable).

This is a very light guitar despite it's all maple construction. It is even lighter than my korina Flying V which ways 6.8 pounds!

The guitar came in the standard '600 series' case with high impact plastic outer and plush lined inners. While I deplore plastic cases I have been told that the Ric case is of outstanding durability, we'll see. In my opinion all features are faultless in both style and execution for this guitar, except the $#%&@ tailpiece.

Sound: 10
I have been a Fender/Gibson man all my playing life, and never contemplated using a 'jangly' Rickenbacker for the fairly loud and heavy Blues/Rock/Funk sounds that I have been into for all of that time. I mean, well, Rics are guitars for (you said bad word)-cats right? WRONG!!!

I bought this axe over a Gibson custom shop Les Paul Junior that I A/B'd with the Ric 660/6 at my place and used my faithful '64 Blackface Fender Vibroverb, Fender Custom Prosonic and little Brownface Fender '63 Princeton, all with vintage Boss fx.

The Ric is naturally resonant and sounds great unplugged, but lets plug in shall we? What a mother-loving sound and tone this baby has!Neck pup alone is full and rich sounding with a hint of twang, nasal mids and gutsy tight bass, perfect for smoking blues at volume or glassy jazz/blues chords turned down. Bridge pup is bright but ballsy similar to the P-90 on the LPJ but without the strong and loud mids of the Gibson single coil pup, indeed the overall volume level of the 660/6 is more on a par with a Fender single-coil pup guitar. Both pups together produce a clean mid/treble sound perfect for acoustic guitar style parts or 'wokka,wokka' funk chords, turn down the front pup and it gets warmer and louder. To just play simple open chords on this guitar is a beautiful experience that becomes addictive, so articulate and lush.

The LPJ vanished into it's case very quickly at this stage and I grabbed my Fender American Vintage '57 reissue Strat for a fairer comparison. This Strat, though nothing special, has an outstanding sound, yet the Ricky made it sound a little harsh! The 660/6 was louder and ballsier overrall as well. Apart from tremolo work this Rickenbacker can do anything the strat can, and do it with perhaps a more versatile palette of sounds. A 3pup 660/6 with a 5 way switch would be interesting!

The blender nob is a little secret weapon to instantly fatten or brighten your tone without touching your main controls, there are many variables on tap here. So far the Ric had been tested clean, addition of delay, phaser, chorus and compression gave nostalgic wonderful sounds, full compression with a little amp overdrive gives that spine tingling 'jangle' especially using the two pups together. But can it crunch I hear you ask!

Using a guitar with skinny single-coil pups is not inducive to an overdriven humbucker sound. In my opinion a Strat, etc. through most overdrive/distortion fx or even an amp overdrive channel always sounds inferior to a Gibson with humbuckers driving an amps natural distortion and getting that fat sound easily to say nothing of it's use through a drive channel! Through the 2 stage Prosonic using the amps gain controls I was able to dial in a ballsy sound, but it was at the cost of screwing up my usual amp settings. I returned all settings and switched back to the clean channel.

Then I stomped on my old Boss OD-1 not expecting much, to my great and pleasurable surprise it sounded bloody excellent! It produced a very ballsy sound indeed, very humbucker and not harsh or squealing! I grabbed my SG Custom off the rack and compared it, it was very close in volume level and sheer quality of sound, but with even more cut and aggression for solos. Stomping on the Amp drive as well produces an opportunity for louder insane overdriven solos and harmonic feedback but it wants to squeal badly, so watch it! I think I have much more than I expected in this guitar's sound.

Action, Fit, & Finish: 9
I am deeply impressed with the level of quality control on this guitar. All hardware is of highest quality and it is evident that Rics are put together with real attention to detail. Binding and frets are done like they were in the good old days. The flamed body wings are expertly book matched and contrast with the figure and grain of the 'through' neck. All contours are perfectly executed and joins are seamless. The colour coat is rich and the clear finish overall is like polished glass, outstanding!

The wider than usual neck/board profile means excellent string spacing for a Ric, but the frets could be a problem for some due to their minimal size. I play a variety of guitars so this is not an issue for me.

Set up was a little low for my 11/52 stringing but that was easily changed and intonation quickly reset. The bridge seems a little precarious on it's 4 screws but with tension it is rock solid. I adjusted the 'Toasters' myself, unlike most single coils in my experience they just sounded better and better the closer to the strings they got!

Here I come to my only complaint, the vintage tailpiece looks so cool but is a pain in the ass! You have to put all 6 strings in the slots then mount the tailpiece and proceed to restring your axe. The tailpiece sits close to the body so it is not quick to change a broken string in between sets either, you have to loosen them all. Also the B and high E strings do not sit properly in their slots and take a little longer to become stable in their tuning.

I have owned over 50 electric guitars and currently have 15 Gibsons and Fenders many of them custom shop guitars and some of them vintage, the Rickenbacker is easily the equal to all of them in fit and finish and superior to many! But, for that tailpiece...

Reliability/Durability: 9
I have already gigged with this, you should have seen the heads turn at a Blues gig recently, 'play the blues on a bloody Rickenbacker?' they seemed to say, some were more vocal in their disbelief. I proved them wrong by the end of the night.

It has held up so far and so it should, as I take good care of my babies. Tuning stability is very good once the strings are broken in. Finish is thin as can be, which is what you want for top sound and tone but means it is easy to ding the wood. Strap buttons are miniscule but o.k. with a good strap. I am now playing this guitar in lieu of my Strats and Tele, and use it with a couple of Gibsons or my Grubisa Merlin. Using only one guitar at a full-on gig is un-professional.

Overall it is strong thank to it's 'neck-through' design and it has been very well crafted to hang together but look after it!

Customer Support: 10
I want to give Rickenbacker a 10 for doing things right straight away, unlike some other major brands that can cost a lot of money to get right after you already pay a lot of money for it in the first place.

Overall Rating: 10
I know I have written this review with the zeal of a convert, but if you too want something different that is actually priced cheaper yet is better made and has a sound of it's own but is versatile then I have no hesitation in recommending this guitar

P.S. I have since got used to the tailpiece a little more and customer support should get 11 for having a switched on CEO and staff who can communicate with us when needed, bloody amazing!

Cheers, Kez

 Post subject: Re: My Harmony Central Review for 660/6
 Post Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:13 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Washington D.C.
Great review!


 Post subject: Re: My Harmony Central Review for 660/6
 Post Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:58 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 461
Location: Sydney, Australia
My pleasure!

Cheers, Kez

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