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Solved Mystery - 1/1/1990

The Mystery of the 'System 490' is finally solved!
Occasionally we will get an inquiry from those we lovingly call "RIC freaks" who want to know more details about the model history of Rickenbacker than anyone can imagine! So it was recently that we were confronted with an interesting conundrum.

There was at some time in the distant past a guitar listed in a Rickenbacker brochure but never produced. In a catalog and price list published in January of 1973 the guitar called the "System 490" was portrayed. This guitar did not appear in subsequent catalogs nor was it ever produced as part of the standard model line.

Did this guitar ever really even exist? Indeed, one prototype was hand built by John Hall, now CEO of RIC, to his original design.

The System 490 guitar was really innovative for its time... ahead of its time, you might say, which is why it was never produced. A traditional solid body shape, the pickguard consisted of plug-in pickup and electronics modules, separately removable with just two screws each. It was dubbed the "System 490" because it was envisioned that a continuing variety of pick-ups and circuitry would be offered, each of which could be completely replaced within a few minutes.

Some of the initial module options available were a high gain, "country" sound, low impedance pickup, or humbucking pickup modules, to be mated with either a dual control, single selector circuit or a low impedance active circuit module.

Number one now reposes in the Rickenbacker headquarters museum in Santa Ana, California and is the grandaddy of Rickenbacker's 200 series guitars. It is literally one of a kind and its significance in the model history of Rickenbacker cannot be denied.