About Ron O'Keefe

My love affair with guitars goes back to the mid-1960’s.  I was with a well-known area band in central PA, playing a Rickenbacker 360-12 through a Fender Showman amp.  We did covers of tunes by the Beatles, Byrds and whatever else was popular in the mid- to late-1960s.  After a few years of a steady diet of playing all manner of venues, it was time for college.  I traded away my electric guitar and amp and got an acoustic 12-string.

Fast forward to the early 1990s.  I came across a book by Tony Bacon, The Ultimate Guitar Book, and I was thunderstruck.  Depicted there in stunning detail were all the guitars I had gazed at longingly in the music stores years ago but could never afford!  Then I got nostalgic for that old Rickenbacker and started poking around.  I came across an issue of Vintage Guitar magazine and realized there was an alternate reality where folks were buying and selling vintage guitars and amps.  With the advent of online sales websites such as eBay, a new world of potential acquisitions opened up.

Fast forward to now. I have put together a broad collection of vintage and specialty guitars over the years with a focus on the Rickenbacker and Fender brands of guitars and amplifiers. The purpose of this website is to share them via the photos I have taken and through dialog with other enthusiasts.   If something interests you and you would like to know more about it, please contact me. Instruments marked with a double asterisk (**) are no longer in the collection.
Ron and Dog
Out of the Frying pan into Fireglo

Rickenbacker Guitars:

Out of the Frying Pan into the Fireglo (2021)
Pioneers of the Electric Guitar (2023)

In the fall of 2018, Martin and Paul Kelly visited me to photograph some of my vintage Rickenbacker guitars. Over the course of several days, dozens of guitars, basses and amplifiers were photographed, including some rare guitars brought in by another collector. Martin and Paul then headed off to the Rickenbacker headquarters for archival research and more photos. The next wave of US photography came in the fall of 2019, after Martin had arranged with the Rock Hall in Cleveland to photograph John Lennon’s model 325 guitars, as well as George Harrison’s model 425. More of my guitars were also photographed.

After returning to the UK, Martin set to the task of writing the text, and Paul to choosing and curating the images that he had photographed for inclusion in the book. Martin and I corresponded via the phone and emails during the drafting of the book. The images and text are complemented by Martin’s extensive collection of Rick paper and ephemera as well as historical material from the Rickenbacker archives. Also presented is Paul’s original photography highlighting some of the most important and obscure Rickenbacker instruments ever made.

The result is a book that tells the fascinating story of the development of the electric guitar and the Rickenbacker brand. I am pleased to have been part of the process of bringing the book to fruition.

Note: In the fall of 2023, a new hardback edition retitled ‘Rickenbacker Guitars – Pioneers of the Electric Guitar’ was issued by Cassell Illustrated/Octopus, a division of publishing giant Hatchette. Other than the title and new hardback cover design, the book is essentially the same as the privately published 2021 edition by Phantom Books.