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1979 Ric 4001 - considering switching out the pickups and controls for new ones

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave Campbell, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    Picked up a '79 Ric last month as a birthday present to myself and it's a beauty. The only thing is the pickups are really low output... like half of what I'd expect. I don't have an ohm meter to give an exact number, but it's low enough that it's going to be an issue for me.

    From what I understand this isn't an uncommon occurrence with some of these 70's Rics.

    I've already decided it's a keeper as it's quite a comfortable instrument to play - much more so than the other few Rics I've felt. That being said I'm prepared to sink a few bucks into it to make it as playable and giggable for myself as possible. My first consideration will be the pickups from one of the online dealers - perhaps a set of the higher output 4003 units, then possibly the electronics as well, maybe a cluster which includes the push/pull pot. Then later on I may consider a set of Hipshot tuners. The binding and name plate have turned to a nice cream color so to compliment that a cream pickguard might look better than the bright white one on there currently. I know some guys like to switch out the bridge to a Hipshot, but I don't think I have any issues with the stock one on there.

    I fully understand that I'd be hurting resale value by changing anything stock on this bass to new, but that really doesn't concern me.

    A few questions come to mind:

    * How much different is the tone of the 4003 electronics to the 4001?

    * If I were to switch out the electronics I'd probably want to sell them to help pay for the new units, probably starting with the local Craigslist first. Hope I'm not breaking any forum rules here, but what kind of price range could I realistically list lower output pickups and electronics as a package? Would I be out to lunch listing them at the same range as a new 4003 cluster/pickups? This kind of stuff you just never see showing up in the used classifieds, so for me it's a total unknown.

    * For any of you Ric owners who have switched out the tuners to Hipshots, do they use the same screw holes, and line up perfectly?
  2. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    I just realized that I'd be a candidate for the J Hud club if I did so lol!

    Another thing which occurred to me too is that I can't help but be a bit curious about the sound of the toaster and horseshoe pickups... :meh:
  3. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    If you live in Colorado then bring it by my workshop. I have worked on a lot of Ricks.

    The first thing to do is to remove the .0047 capacitor.

    If the pickups are quiet then first try raising them closer to the strings. Also check for bad solder joints.

    Then if there is a problem with the pickups then your best choice is a pair of 4003 high gains. The Seymour Duncan and Bartolini replacement pickups do not have a Rickenbacker tone. The Joe Barden pickups will work good and have a Rickenbacker tone but they are pricey.
  4. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1 remove, or otherwise disable the .0047 capacitor first. If that doesn't do the trick, the modern HiGains are significantly hotter than the older ones. Horseshoe I can't comment, but a Toaster at the neck would provide warmth galore. The rest of the pots should be fine, but a new harness with the VTC circuit, (which puts the .0047 cap on a switch) isn't a bad idea.
  5. pflash4001


    Dec 2, 2011
    Got pics? I also have a 1979 4001. It's a great bass. I'm posting from my phone. As soon as I can get on my computer I'll post pics of mine if you'd like.
  6. cassius987

    cassius987 Banned

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    I don't think replacing the tuners is necessary whatsoever. The stock ones work just as well. The Hipshot ones just turn easily because of their high gear ratio.

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