Adolph Rickenbacker, a distant relative of WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, began producing metal-body guitars with steel player George Beauchamp in 1928 for the National Company. Together they formed a second company called Ro-Pat-In Corporation and added Spanish models with conventional archtop bodies and eventually a lap steel which became their best seller. These guitars bore the brand name "Electro String Instruments."
After temporarily diverting production during WWII to manufacture war-related products Adolph Rickenbacker breifly resumed building instruments before selling his company to F.C. Hall in 1953. All Rickenbacker guitars were made at the original Electro String factory in Los Angeles until 1962 when Hall moved production to Santa Ana, CA, having adopted the name Rickenbacker, Inc.
By this time the Beatles invasion was in full swing and soon all three guitarists (John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney) had Rickenbacker's in their personal arsenal. F.C. Hall gave a 360/12 (the second ever produced) to George Harrison and the guitar made a permanent impression on the sixties sound.
Today the company is run by F.C. Hall's son John C. Hall and has been consolidated as the Rickenbacker International Corporation (RIC). They continue to manufacture in Santa Ana. Rickenbacker are reknown for their quality. They are one of the few major American electric guitar companies to resist the urge to lend their brand name to cheaper products built in foriegn countries. New Rickenbacker guitars are frequently back ordered for 6 months to a year or more at dealerships.