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It was introduced in June 1965, four months after CBS ownership of Fender took effect and just as the Byrds’ jangly “Mr.
Tambourine Man” single and album were topping the charts and ushering in the folk-rock boom (Gene Clark played a Firemist Gold prototype model when the CBS-signed Byrds played the song on the May 11, 1965, episode of NBC’s Hullabaloo; only the group’s second televised performance and, ironically, one of the very few times Clark was seen holding a guitar instead of a tambourine).
The Electric XII had a comfortable offset body like its cousins, the Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Mustang, Jazz Bass and Bass VI.
Jimmy Page used his 1965 model on at least two Led Zeppelin songs.
Bob Dylan was photographed at the 1965 sessions for Highway 61 Revisited cradling an Electric XII, although it’s unclear if he recorded anything with it.
Other Electric XII players of that original era include John Pisano of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, who used his quite a lot (1967’s “Wade in the Water” being a fine example), singer/songwriter Tim Buckley (1973 tracks “Dolphins” and “Honey Man,” and many others), Beach Boy Carl Wilson (who was photographed with a 1965 prototype model), “Wrecking Crew” guitarist Billy Strange (who played one on 1966 Beach Boys classic “Sloop John B”), and the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, who played theirs on “Beginning To See the Light” and “What Goes On” from the band’s eponymous 1969 third album.
The 21-fret rosewood fingerboard had pearl-dot inlays.
Where the Electric XII truly exceeded other electric 12-string models, however, was its bridge.
Johnny Winter played an Electric XII strung as a six-string at the 1969 Woodstock festival.