Welcome to Rickenbacker.com              10/25/2014   
Now that the neck and body have been joined, the guitar must be hand sanded before it goes into the paint room. This is a lengthy process that uses progressively finer sand-paper; all the curved edges as well as the flat surfaces are smoothed to an absolute, even finish.
Every portion of the instrument must be properly attended to, as the proprietary finish system used at RIC is very thin and unforgiving of any flaw. Other guitar makers often use polyester or nitrocellulose, which tend to hide defects, at the expense of longevity and stability. By starting with perfection, Rickenbacker can assure a perfect result. . . with a finish which will look great decades into the future.
In the paint room, no paint robots or hydro-static sprayers are to be found, only experienced craftsmen, dedicated to giving their undivided attention to each guitar. Before color can be applied, the instrument goes through an extensive sealing and sanding processes.
Once sanding and sealing have been completed, the artisan manually shades the color coats to the desired degree. Only those with an extremely sharp eye coupled with a steady hand can master this job producing the unique qualities, depth of shading and coloring.
Before the luxuriant layers of clear coat can be applied, the binding must be scraped with a knife edge to produce razor-sharp delineation between the binding and wood. At this stage, each element of the shading or color coat is examined and minute detailing is performed to assure perfection. No machine could possibly be so critical and painstaking as the workers who lavish their efforts upon each guitar at this stage.
Following many coats of sealer and color coats, numerous applications of a super high gloss finish are made. Providing not only great visual appeal, this surface treatment protects the guitar from dings and scrapes; the unique chemistry of the material makes it both hard and flexible at the same time. Impact areas do not craze or radiate like polyester, nor does this material turn cloudy or finish-check in cool weather like nitrocellulose.
Wet sanding is perhaps the most labor intensive investment made into any guitars produced today. Between the various coats, and especially prior to buffing, the coated surface must be leveled to insure smoothness and abraded to accept the next process. Specialized sandpaper and gear are coupled with great physical effort to produce the desired combination of evenness and lack of shine.
Sanding grits up to grade 1500 are necessary to caress the coating to perfect flatness. There is no surface of the guitar which escapes the attention of the wet sanding operator. Excess dust is removed by a special vacuum system and downdraft benches, where the air is filtered to remove any contamination.
Following wet sanding, the guitar is meticulously polished to the glass-like perfection for which RIC instruments are renowned. While most companies spend only fifteen minutes at this stage, Rickenbacker devotes over an hour and fifteen minutes carefully cutting, buffing and waxing to produce an unrivaled finish.