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A different "Rickenbacker help" thread

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sloppy_phil, Jan 8, 2012.


  1. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    So I have a different issue I could perhaps get some clarification with. I'm attempting to do a truss rod adjustment on my '84 4003 (which, thanks to the help of you kind TB folks, I now know requires the old-style adjustment method). It didn't take to the first attempt I gave it, so now I turn to the most trusted wealth of bass knowledge I know.

    I've got the rods which adjust at the body-end of the neck, but even still, I used the info from Joey's Bass Notes (all his advice/examples used basses with headstock-end truss rods). First problem I ran into was that the recommended 1/4" nut driver was far too small for the task; it seems to be about 5/16" (well, it was a 10 on my British neighbour's set). As well, getting a conventional nut driver onto the actual nuts is basically impossible; they both tilt downwards coming off of the bearing plate (which both also seem to be angled slightly; they are not completely flush to the wooden surroundings), and are basically touching the wood of the cavity. On a side note, these rods look completely different from the ones in Joey's video. My neighbour is good with tools and such, so we took the lugs off (loosened with pliers), pulled the rods out a bit, and attempted to manually adjust the rods to get rid of their odd angle to no avail. Seemingly left with no other options, we attempted to tighten the rods using pliers and a clamp/wrenchy-thing (that's the technical term), still following Joey's advice. Tightening the rods back up didn't seem to work; there was/is still a little bit of wiggle on them while using the pliers, and this was using more torque/strength than Joey calls for. Didn't want to overdo it for fear of popping off the fretboard, but it felt like we used way more effort than necessary (and far more than Joey does in the video). As it currently stands, the rods are tightened to where we left them, and the strings (La Bella steels 45-105) are on but completely slack. My neighbour's going to bring home his full set of tools tmrw so we should have luck getting a proper nut driver on it; we'll see if that makes a difference. Don't want to ruin the bass (even though I'm guessing someone is cringing at how I've gone about this job), so is there any advice? Besides take it to a luthier, of course (which I'll do if things don't pan out tomorrow)!
     
  2. The proper tools should do the trick. I've done my fair share of "creative" tool use. It usually ends badly ;)
     
  3. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Many good luthiers don't know Rickenbackers.

    Also you can't work on your Rick without the proper tools.
     
  4. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    it is a little scary. But, and I can't blame you for not necessarily reading my whole post, I followed Joey's notes very carefully.

    And yes, waiting for the proper tools does seem to be the smart move here.... it's why we stopped yesterday where we did. Could tell that it wasn't getting us anywhere.
     
  5. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    I definitely agree. Good thing there is a guy not too far from me who has lots of experience working with them. He'll get it sorted if it turns out I can't hack it. I just like to be able to do all my own work whenever I can, and I'd rather not have to spring for the repair; i can't totally afford it, but would somehow find a way to get it done anyways!
     
  6. I have a 83 4003 that was just like you described yours!

    I tried everything i could but the truss rods where just to soft and kept bending at the nuts and loosing tension!
    The thread was very weak to and i just couldnt get an adjustment i was happy with.

    I changed the rods and now i can get the bass perfect!
    IMO rick was using some pretty cheap and soft metal back then and if your rods where played with it might be worth changing them!
    The new ones are a lot stiffer, the neck is a lot less sensitive to temp and humidity change and i can get the action lower!

    Here is where i got them: Randy Wood Guitars: Home they are according to Rickenbacker the last people to do the old style rods!
     
  7. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    hey, thanks for the tip! I checked the site, but i didn't see any mention of Rics, truss rods, or anything like that.... I tried sending an email, but I got this page full of weird script whenever I hit send. Don't know if anything even went through!

    I might just try a lighter set of strings if i'm having trouble getting a good adjustment with the current set. I had to play my Precision at practice tonight, and it's got some really floppy-feeling d'addario tapewounds on it... I forgot how good they felt!
     
  8. stacker

    stacker Banned

    Feb 24, 2010
    scotland
    I had a bitch of a time with the rods on a 4003S/8. Full-tilt and still not able to pull the neck straight. Tried removing the rods and doing the old washer trick but to no avail. I ended up having the rods replaced by non-RIC rods and the neck settled down but I'd fallen out of love with it after that and I punted it.

    Same thing with an old 4001, but using th correct technique. The rod ends were stripped and I had to get them re-threaded and she's - thankfully - been stable ever since.
     
  9. I talked to Mark Vaquer on the phone, very helpful nice guy, i had the rods in the UK in a week!
    Try this email maybe, it worked for me:

    Randy Wood <info@randywoodguitars.com>
     
  10. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    Cool, thanks for the info. I'll definitely be emailing them soon.

    So, developments abound. We tried again with the proper tools tonight, but found that applying a little bit of torque on the D-G truss rod didn't work so well; it snapped! While definitely a complete and total bummer, we were able to determine that the rods had been bent by somebody at some point, in theory to stop the rods from ever moving (and, consequently, being adjusted). I guess years back a luthier tried to set these rods properly, and apparently this was what they thought of... They were both bent the exact same amount in the same direction. You would have had to repeatedly hit them with a hammer to induce that kind of movement, it definitely was not accidental or natural warpage.

    Anyways, it's a good thing my neighbour is an engineer; he's taking the bass to work and him and his colleagues are going to reverse-engineer me some really nice truss rods. Well, not completely new rods, but he's going to re-create the threaded ends and possibly fashion some completely new bearing plates (not made out of ****** aluminum this time!!), depending on what the job calls for. He said it would be pretty simple to do, and they have all the metal-working tools and experience. There's even a huge guitar buff who works there that is in on the project. He was only semi-joking when he said that if his work goes well, he could patent and build these things for sale to the general public (i'm sure RIC would love that!! :rolleyes:).

    When I get word of tomorrow's developments, i'll be sure to keep everyone informed. It will be at least a few days before they're done, but I'm curious to see how this turns out.

    I'd be much less worried if this wasn't an expensive bass (and one that I use all the time!!), but there's not much I can do at this point. And I'm fairly sure that any luthier would have run into the exact same issue; the original rods were horribly bent and pretty much unworkable.
     
  11. Bummer! But at least Ric designed the truss rods to be easily replaced. Good luck with everything, and it sounds like the bass is in better hands than the previous owner.
     
  12. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    Thanks, Mitch! Yeah, I'm hoping to be a life-long owner of this bass; the sound and everything about it is fantastic!

    Well, things are looking good. My neighbour reported back that he's going to be able to cut off the bent parts, and then cut the rods themselves back less than 1/4" in order to re-expose the proper amount of un-bent threading. A few guys there looked into it, and said that wouldn't be a significant loss in terms of holding the neck in place (I'm not knowledgable enough on the matter to have an informed opinion). He would have done it today, but didn't want to cut anything up without consulting me. He'll have it done tomorrow and we'll try tightening the baby up a little after dinner!! :) I guess we'll see how it goes!

    Sorry I don't have any pics to document; it's been neat checking out the truss rods and such... damn they're actually pretty heavy!
     
  13. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    Well, i've got an update on the progress (for the maybe 2 people who care!); it's all good! It took a bit longer than expected, but this bass is doing great. We thought the rods would take after my last update, but they didn't, and the threading started getting more chewed up as we attempted adjustments. It was only then I noticed the rods had little to no bend left at all in them. We got them properly bent (about 2" at the apex), and re-inserted. Thought it was gonna be fine, but the threading was just too chewed up to let the nut get tight on the D-G side rod. So my neighbour totally made up new threaded ends for both rods which got nicely welded on. At that point, the neck took the adjustment. Action is good and low, just like I'm told a Ric should be :D
     

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