From 1965 until their breakup in 1973, the Byrds were a bona-fide electric-guitar powerhouse. During the Southern California band's initial—and most popular—incarnation, Jim McGuinn turned the 12-string Rickenbacker 360 guitar into an institution.

Its glorious trademark "chiming" sound actually became the band's trademark sound—a sound that even influenced the almighty Beatles (who had initially inspired McGuinn to pick up a 12-string Rickenbacker in the first place).

As the years went by and the hits piled up—"Turn! Turn! Turn!," "Eight Miles High," "My Back Pages" and "Chestnut Mare" among them—the band's original lineup—Jim McGuinn,[1] David Crosby,[2] Gene Clark,[3] Chris Hillman[4] and Michael Clarke—went their separate ways, leaving McGuinn to carry on the Byrds experience with a host of new musicians.

Luckily, a guitar legend was waiting in the wings: Clarence White. A master of chops-busting bluegrass guitar, White, who initially recorded with the band as a session guitarist but became a full band member in mid-1968, intertwined his formidable fingerpicking, flatpicking and hybrid-picking technique on his Tele with the use of a device he helped invent (with Gene Parsons), the Parsons-White StringBender (also known as a B-bender),[5] which allowed him to recreate certain aspects of pedal steel guitar licks with stunning accuracy.

It also should be noted that three members of the Byrds—White, McGuinn and Hillman[6]—have (or have had) their own signature-model guitars or basses (Hillman has two—the Martin Guitars OM Chris Hillman Custom Artist Edition[7] and the Guild Chris Hillman Signature Byrds Bass[8]; McGuinn's signature Rickenbacker has been discontinued, but don't forget his signature Martin seven-string model[9]). This, I assure you, is uncommon.

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