The “Jangle”……. a little bit of heaven from a guitar!


It was Roger McGuinn and George Harrison’s arpegiated style of playing guitar, a sort of picking and sometimes strumming technique on a Twelve String Rickenbacker that has gone on to influence a universe of guitar bands, just ask Peter Buck!

  Influenced by folk, bluegrass, mandolin playing, banjo picking and other kinds of acoustic guitar music, Roger picked away as the engineer added some compression, went right into the board, and the rest was rock history, a new sound, and a group called The Byrds hit it big .

Here is a great site where you can learn how play arpeggios and learn how to use them. This is also a really fantastic site for lots of guitar playing knowledge.

Just how do you get that jingle jangle sound?

Now we have some input from the man himself…..

RM: The sound is a combination of several things. It’s compressed. I have to credit Ray Gerhard. He’s an engineer at Columbia Records. He came up with the idea because without compression the Rick kind of falls off. It doesn’t sustain a long time. And he compressed that into another, a serial compression.

The other thing is the arpeggio style I play comes more from a 5-string banjo. And then a lot of the folky stuff, like the Travis picking behind the lead break. Underneath it I’m playing (Plays), rolling. So, I’m overdubbing the lead break and doing the rolling underneath it.

I guess that’s the sound. Banjo picking, compression and some other little folk techniques I picked up along the way.


What is the best amp to use with a Rickenbacker
RM: The roland JC120

I would say a Vox AC30 would be in there. Here is a link to  ,the forum for all things Rickenbacker where you can see which amps hundreds of jangleheads use to get this heavenly guitar sound.

Here is yet another Rick forum  that talks about the wiring in those early Ricks   and more about which amplifiers the Byrds actually used live.

Roger, who has been into digital recording on his own for some time now explains how he now records his signature jangle without even using an amp. He goes directly into the computer!

RED: Do you mic an amp when tracking your classic “jingle-jangle” electric 12-string Rickenbacker sound?

RM: No, for that I go direct into the computer without an amp through one of my three I/O interfaces. I got into recording the 12-string electric this way back in The Byrds when we always went direct with it in the studio. That’s the clean part of the jingle-jangle sound with no hum or ambient room noise. It’s a very compressed sound, of course, and I achieve that by running the Rick through a pair of Jangle Box stomp boxes I love. Those are based on the compressor circuit built into my custom Rick model [Rickenbacker 370/12 McGuinn Limited Edition 12-string.] Once I’m in Adobe Audition with it, I don’t really need to compress the Rick any further because the two Jangle Box’s have already nicely compressed it. But I do like to hard limit the track once I’m in Audition to really punch the Rick to the edges of the envelope.




Here is a really insteresting post from

Does anyone know the model Switchcraft toggle switches, pot and capacitor values for the original Byrds wiring? I’m not refering to the RM compressor model, I’d like to wire my guitar to the original wiring, from what I’ve been able to determine from the various forum info, it works with each individual pickup separately. Ideally I’d like to build a separate pickguard with the wiring.

assuming you are talking about a 3-pickup factory wiring in a 370-12, without the RM compressor, the factory wiring did not allow for individual pickup selection, the toggle switch came pre-wired for only 3 combinations:
1) neck pickup by itself,
2) neck pickup with center pickup,
3) bridge pickup by itself.

that’s how mine was in 1967. So I was missing the other pickup combinations which I wanted to have:
4) bridge pickup with center pickup, (very vintage sound)
5) bridge pickup with neck pickup, (very bubblegummy sound)
6) all three pickups together, (very thick and bright)
7) center pickup by itself. (very midrangy sound).

Around 1972 I had a shop cut me a lower pickguard section and I drilled holes for three individual mini-switches, one for each pickup, and a master volume and master tone, (which I could have done without because I never adjust the volume or tone on the guitar itself, instead I use a Volume Pedal), but I guess I did it for tradition :-)).

Roger McGuinn used a 2-pickup 360-12 in The Byrds first two albums, (Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn Turn Turn), the 3-pickup 370-12 started in their third album, “My Back Pages” (I think), and it was fully exploited in their fourth album, “Mr. Spaceman”. The 370-12 sounds very explosive in that 4th album, and the 3-pickup sound is simply, delicious.

Just like The Beatles were awed by Jimi Hendrix, they were awed by The Byrds, and I think they realized they could not copy The Byrds without sounding like The Byrds, so they retired their original 12-string Rickenbacker until Harrison got a FireGlo 360-12 like Roger McGuinn’s and they used it in “If I Needed Someone”. :-)) (just my wild theories).

So I think you are talking about a circuit mod offered by Popes here in the forum.

1966 370-12

And as far as what amp he used with the original Byrds….I heard McGuinn several times, once with the fabled original 5 Byrds. He had the 2-pickup Fireglow 12, and played it through 2 Fender Super Reverbs. He was also using a Vox Treble Booster, and that guitar cut through everything. I imagine he used all kinds of combinations, but i only saw either Fender Supers or Twins, and the occassional Dual Showman. I think those Fender amps made all the difference in the world, just like the legendary Super Beatles by Vox…I’m just SAYIN’……



5 comments to The “Jangle”……. a little bit of heaven from a guitar!

  • My 2011 Rickenbacker 12 has two hi gain pickups, one at bridge and one at neck. In addition, it has a middle “toaster” pickup.

    It is wired as thus:
    1) Up position: neck pickup only
    2) Middle: middle and bridge pickup
    3) Down: Rear pickup only

    Note: The small know enables you to mix indefinitely.

  • MY GOD, get a proofreade-r…and Kardashian having “the biggest fan base” says alot about ‘merica doesn’t it?diablo 3 gold

  • Johnny Janglehead

    For anyone wishing to get that “Jangle” sound on a budget I can recommend the Italia Rimini which is a really well made guitar (designed by Trevor Wilkinson), Korean made but to high standards. You can pick them up second hand for a fraction of the cost of a Ricky. I’ve a Rimini that I use with an AC30 and a Rothwell compression pedal and it’s blissful.

  • Hi there, just was aware of your weblog through Google, and located that it is truly informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I will appreciate in case you continue this in future. Many other folks will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  • SHAY

    I’ve been playing Rickenbacker 6’s and 12’s for nearly 20 years and have tried pretty much every classic amp with them from Vox via Hiwatt to Marshall. I have a 60’s custom-wired 330 12 with 7.4k “toaster” pickups.I know sound is a very personal thing, but one truth i have recently picked up on is that, THE best amp to bring the most out of a Rick 12 is any 6L6 valve -equipped FENDER, preferably from the tweed era like a Bassman or Fender Pro. Townsend swore by them and the best examples of this set up in practice are “Anyhow, anywhere…”(The Who)and “All I Really Wanna Do” (The Byrds)