1974 Rickenbacker 480

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Great design, build quality, 24 fret neck, weight, great original condition, highly underrated, vintage values

Thumbs down: Narrow neck may be a bit of a squeeze, single coil pickups, bolt‑on neck, scarce, non‑OHSC

Decree: A fantastic underground cult classic Rickenbacker with an iconic outline

Model Description:

The American-made solid body, double-cutaway Rickenbacker 480, along with its sister models the 481 and 483 make up Rickenbacker’s ‘Combo 400 Series’. The 480 is quite rare, only produced in relatively small numbers between 1973 and 1984. The distinctive maple ‘cresting wave’ body and headstock are similar in shape to Rickenbacker’s iconic 4000‑series bass models designed by German luthier Roger Rossmeisl. Unlike most Rickenbackers, the 480 model has a bolt‑on maple neck with a 25” scale length. The 480 was available in the usual Rickenbacker finishes, although black (JetGlo) tends to be the most common colour. The 480 used dual Hi‑Gain single coil pickups and the 24‑fret neck has dot inlays, while the 483 is similar but with 3 pickups. The 481 is notable in that a proportion of them feature peculiar ‘patented slanted frets’, angled humbucking pickups while others have normal frets. The 481 also features Rickenbacker’s trademark triangular neck inlays. Despite its familiar body shape, the Rickenbacker 480 was not a commercial success in the same way as the equivalent bass models. To‑date, Rickenbacker has never reissued any of the 480 series guitars, which is a shame. However, the 480 has become moderately collectable on the vintage guitar market due to their relative scarcity and because of the guitar’s association with Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizorno.

Guitar Description:

Now, here’s a very interesting, very cool and very good‑looking guitar. I actually went on a mission to find one of these woefully under‑appreciated guitars, as it fits CRAVE’s ‘Cool & Rare’ ethos perfectly. In my opinion the offset ‘cresting wave’ body shape is one of the most attractive out there and it’s also a great guitar to boot. I know all the arguments about why it didn’t succeed – the bolt on neck (which never hurt Fender!) is the usual excuse for purists not to take it seriously. Get over it people. The 480 (and its relations, 481/483) was based on the iconic Roger Rossmeisl‑designed 4000 series basses from the late 1950s. The 6‑string 480 model was only produced between 1973 and 1983, which makes it a relatively rare instrument today. I really don’t understand why Rickenbacker has never reissued it, especially now that Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno is strongly associated with the model. Anyway… this particular Rickenbacker 480 dates from January 1974 in lovely Mapleglo (i.e. natural) finish – also very 1970s. The guitar is in terrific shape, with only very minor blemishes for its age. It exudes Rickenbacker quality from every pore and shares many family characteristics with its more revered cousins. That exquisite chrome ‘R’ tailpiece is to die for. For me, the string spacing is a bit too tight but I can adapt to that and it provides a different perspective on playing. I may be odd but I am not a great fan of the classic 300 series ‘Capri’, so this is ‘the’ Rickenbacker guitar shape for me. I think that the proportions suit the guitar and bass equally well. Idiosyncratic? Sure it is, in true Rickenbacker fashion. The 480 is a real ‘under‑the‑radar’ cool cult classic for the open‑minded vintage collector. I don’t know whether to say, “sshhh!” or “spread the word”. Groovy baby.


  • Natural ‘Mapleglo’ polyester finish
  • Maple ‘cresting wave’ offset body and headstock
  • Maple bolt‑on neck
  • Newer period‑correct tuners
  • Original ‘Model 480’ truss rod cover
  • Nut width 1 9/16” (39mm)
  • Rosewood bound fingerboard with 24 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 25” (635mm)
  • Chrome hardware
  • Original twin ‘Hi‑Gain’ single coil pickups
  • Original single‑ply white plastic scratchplate
  • Original electrics comprising 3‑way toggle switch, 2 volume and 2 tone controls and edge‑mounted jack socket
  • Original bridge (with original bridge cover – not shown)
  • Weight: 7.6lbs (3.45kg)
  • Newer, non‑original hard shell case


  • Sergio Pizzorno (Kasabian)
  • Patti Smith


In 2021, Rickenbacker introduced a very short-run Limited Edition 90th Anniversary 480XC in Tobaccoglo finish, exploiting the classic 480 shape but with contemporary appointments drawn from other instruments in the brand’s heritage. This rare boutique model was to help celebrate the company’s 90 years in existence.

Detail Gallery:

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