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1989 Rickenbacker 381JK John Kay Limited Edition Steppenwolf Jetglo w/ Case, 381


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Up for sale, a 1989 Rickenbacker John Kay signature model 381JK in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Introduced in October of '88, this model was limited to just 250 guitars and has been discontinued for decades. Easily one of the rarest and coolest Rickenbacker artist models ever put into production, the 381JK offers a host of features unique to this model, with a pair of HB-1 humbuckers, active electronics (passive mode also available), a phase mini toggle, and a four position rotary switch which offers various single coil and humbucking pickup configurations. Designed to match the feel of John Kay's 1968 Rickenbacker 381 which he used extensively with Steppenwolf, the 381JK signature model has a wider tonal palette than its vintage brethren, and is a powerful, substantial feeling Rickenbacker that can deliver both top end sparkle and more full, rich textures. The guitar weighs 9lbs 9oz with a clear, cutting and authoritative acoustic tone, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 11-49 strings, low action, and accurate intonation.

The neck has a quintessential medium C-shaped profile with modest shoulders. The neck carve is not too chunky and not too thin, filling the palm comfortably and fretting easily, measuring .830" deep at the 1st fret and .930" at the 12th. The bound rosewood fretboard features ambered triangular fretboard inlays that extend all the way to the edges of the board as per vintage spec, and the original slender fretwire is intact. The frets show light, uniform wear on the crowns of frets 1-2, extending beneath the plain strings until fret 9, and the guitar plays cleanly in every register up the 24 3/4" scale with a straight neck and responsive truss rods. The nut measures 1 5/8" in width, and the headstock is fitted with the original chrome Schaller-made Kluson-style tuning machines, as well as the stock black Rickenbacker truss rod cover/logo.

On the body, the electronics are untouched, and the layout with the rotary coil tap switch and phase mini toggle make for a very versatile and intuitive setup. The guitar also has a notably shorter pickup selector switch as per spec for this model, keeping the switch out of the pick path, and the instrument features Rick-o-Sound stereo or mono functionality. Of the two pickguards, only the lower tier is intact, with a small amount of flaking of the silver paint on the underside adjacent to a couple of the mounting holes.

Both the top and back of the guitar have checkerboard binding, framing the Jetglo gloss finish and deep German Carve. There is heavy ambering and checking of the body binding, and the neck binding is aged to a lesser extent. Cosmetic wear includes very faint outlines of a couple removed stickers on the back, light buckle rash and various nicks, and a couple touched-up dings central to the back. The neck retains its smooth gloss finish on the profile.

This is a fine example of a rare, discontinued Rickenbacker model, limited to just 250 guitars worldwide.

A brand new official Rickenbacker silver tolex 381 hardshell case is included.