Rickenbacker is a popular guitar manufacturer. They are well-known for the guitar and bass designs.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison all used Rickenbacker guitars and basses throughout the group's existence. Lennon acquired a blonde-finished model 325, serial number V81, during the group's early days in Hamburg, which he used until early 1964. This guitar underwent several cosmetic modifications, including the installation of a Bigsby tailpiece instead of the stock Kauffmann vibrato, many control knob changes, and a refinish to black (this was apparently done by someone with little experience in guitar finishing, as there were visible brush strokes on the new finish). Lennon received another 325, serial number DB122, during the Beatles' visit to Miami the week of February 16, 1964. This guitar was Lennon's primary instrument through 1965, although it experienced a severe neck crack in late 1964 due to being knocked over onstage at a concert. This guitar is presently in the John Lennon Museum near Tokyo, Japan, and the neck crack is still visible to this day - it has apparently worsened over the years and the guitar is unplayable at this time. Lennon owned two other variants of the model 325, a 12-string version custom crafted for him after he played the 360/12 made famous by George Harrison at a meeting with F.C. Hall of Rickenbacker (just prior to the first Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964), and a Rose-Morris model 1996, a Fireglo (reddish sunburst) variant with an f-hole (all of Lennon's other 325 models had solid tops) which Lennon used while the "Miami" guitar was being repaired. The 1996 was last seen in a photo taken around the time of the Sgt. Pepper sessions, and is currently owned by Ringo Starr.
George Harrison acquired a Rickenbacker 425 during his solo trip to the US in 1963 to visit his sister Louise in Illinois. Harrison used the 425 briefly, and switched to the Gretsch Country Gentleman and the Gretsch Tennessean for most six string work. Rickenbacker's F.C. Hall showed Harrison the second 360/12 guitar the company made during the Beatles' first visit to New York (the guitar was taken to Harrison, who was ill in his room at the Plaza Hotel at the time). Some conjecture exists about whether the guitar was given to Harrison by Rickenbacker or whether it was bought for him by a radio station, however, Harrison quickly made the guitar an integral part of the Beatles' sound, using it for overdubs on "Can't Buy Me Love" for its first appearance. The guitar was famously featured in the film "A Hard Day's Night", and Harrison regularly had it on stage during the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 tours. Harrison was given a second model 360/12, with a rounded top similar to today's production models during their visit to Minneapolis in 1965. This second Rickenbacker 12 string was used to record "If I Needed Someone" and on stage for the 1966 tours. The first twelve string was last seen on stage in a place of honor at the "Concert for George" in 2002, and is still in the possession of Olivia and Dhani Harrison. The second guitar was apparently stolen from a storage room at Abbey Road studios sometime after the summer 1969 recording sessions for the eponymous album and has never resurfaced.
Paul McCartney was offered his left-handed Rickenbacker 4001 bass in 1964 by the Rickenbacker company, however, he turned it down. McCartney accepted the bass a year later. It was originally finished with Rickenbacker's Fireglo finish. The bass was repainted in psychedelic colors at the time of "Magical Mystery Tour", apparently to complement George Harrison's newly repainted Stratocaster ("Rocky"). The bass was subsequently sanded down to a natural finish.