Ric 4003 Setup Issue

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by jgroh, Nov 3, 2012.


  1. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Hey all,

    Recently the weather changed here in PA and the strings on my 2009 Ric 4003 started buzzing on (usually) the first 5 frets, and the strings were very high off the board the closer to the bridge you went. I carefully tightened the truss rods a little which lowered the strings, then I adjusted the string height up a little.

    But then the strings started buzzing higher up the neck. So I loosened the rods a little. I went back and forth several times over the last few days and in order to not have the strings buzz (much...still does in spots) I have to loosen the rods but the strings are very high off the board going towards the bridge.

    Here are some photos...anyone have any idea on what I should do to fix this? I originally was thinking there is an upbow in the neck but now im lost.

    ric1.jpg
    ric2.jpg
  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Set the neck dead flat. Adjust string height. Intonate.
  3. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thats what I was trying to do but when I adjust the truss rods the strings were either a mile off the board or buzzing.
  4. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Pay no attention to the strings while you are adjusting the rods. Get the neck dead flat first, then adjust the bridge until there is no fret buzz. If this is not possible without excessive string height, there may be an issue with your nut.
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  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    First of all store your Ricks in a humidity controlled room. Try to maintain the humidity to around 35% year round if possible. In a normal home in your part of the world the humidity can reach 80% in the summer and 15% in the winter, and it can be worse in a basement. Rickenbacker recommends a humidity of 35%. I live in Denver. It is dryer here. The room I keep my basses in is currently 29%. I run humidifiers half the year. Heating a house will dry out a house. I keep the room I store my basses in between 20% and 50% humidity. Low humidity can damage wood.

    Wood expands when it absorbs moisture and it contracts when it drys out. You are going into the time of year where your house will get dryer. The will cause the bass to get a little front bow. When I lived back east I had to adjust my Rics twice a year due to changes in humidity levels.

    Most Ricks you need to adjust the neck flat. Some Rics this won't work. Try flat if that doesn't work then try a little relief. Also get a humidifier, and maybe try lighter or heavier strings.

    Learn to set up your Rickenbacker. Since it is neck through you can't shim the neck. But you have 2 truss rods. Sometimes you have to adjust the neck and let it sit for a while and then come back and see how it plays. The bridge tailpiece is cumbersome but it needs to be adjusted as well. Also most Ricks the nut is cut too high. Remember the strings at the nut should be the height of one fret about the fretboard, and it is easy to make the nut too low. If you do replacement nuts are cheap.

    Also find an expert in your area who can teach you how to set up your Rick.
  7. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Emeryville, Ca
    Disclosures:
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    From your description, it sounds as though your bass needs a little relief, if it has started buzzing around the first 5 frets. But then, the strings uniformly getting higher, makes me think you may have a more serious problem; if/when the neck angle changes on a Ric--note there's not a lot of volume of wood, at the heel--you're pretty much screwed, unless you want to have the fingerboard removed, and a tapered wedge added, to change the neck angle.

    I hope that your description is erroneous, and that you can get your bass back into fighting trim. Rics are problematic. Have a knowledgeable pro look at this.
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    Also don't neglect your Rick. There is an older thread somewhere here where a guy had a Rick that was so beautiful that he didn't play it. He left it in the case forever. And it got damaged by neglect. The bass needs to be played and adjusted. Wood does not ever want to be straight. In nature wood always curves. Left to its own devices the neck will curve. The longer it is left curved the more it wants to stay that way. Especially with a set of high tensioned strings pulling on it.

    I had a 1968 4001 with a neck worse than that and I got it adjusted and it worked fine.
  9. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I play/gig my Ric all the time, its my main bass. I can get the strings from not buzzing but then they are really high going toward the bridge. The first thing I thought is that the nut might be too low (i never touched it so its stock). If I could raise it up a little at the nut and down a little at the bridge, I would be much better off. I do have a tech so I can take it to him but thought I would get an idea here first. I have been setting up my basses but Im no way an expert, but Ive done ok so far. This just made me scratch my head!
  10. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Location:
    St. Louis
    If your strings are low at the nut and high at the bridge by the time you get it to quit buzzing, most likely it is the nut. Relief will not help you.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    If the nut is stock it will not be too low. Also a nut too low can only make the open strings buzz.

    Most Ricks have great necks ... every once in a while there is a Ric with a problem neck ... Even some of the problem neck Rics can come around with adjustments.

    The neck could be s curved. Look down the neck and see where it is flat and where it curves. Do this on both sides. With 2 truss rods the neck can twist.

    You may have to go with lighter or heavier strings.

    If you lived in Colorado I would have you come by my basement workshop and we could sort out the problem and fix it.
  12. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Location:
    St. Louis


    Not necessarily true. A stock nut can be worn down, particularly with heavy gauge strings and or frequent de-tuning or steel strings. How old is this bass and what gauge/type strings are on it?

    So if a nut is cut too low you are saying that it will not cause fret buzz when you attempt to adjust the bridge for low action?:eyebrow:

    Didn't the OP say he put the neck flat?
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    Every new Ric that I have seen has the nut too high. But if somebody worked on it the nut can be too low.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    The nut cut too low only effects the open strings.

    Heve you ever played an instrument with a zero fret? I have a guitar with a zero fret. The nut in effect is a zero fret. But a high nut will make the action high down the neck and it will make it harder to fret notes.

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