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Buying a '73 Rick 4001; advice requested

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JoePlaysDaBass, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Calling all Rick experts!

    I'm meeting someone in the morning to try and probably buy a 1973 Ric 4001. He has disclosed that the pick guard and tuners are not original.

    What should I look for while I examine the instrument? I've heard to watch for neck cracks around the second fret, but that's all I know.

    Just looking for any red flags to watch for. If the bass is as advertised, its definitely coming home with me.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Pickguard and tuners not being original is a red flag. What else might be non-original? Make sure you have the opportunity to plug it in and play if at all possible.
  3. Going to his house to play before the purchase. Is there a serial number range for this year? I truley am clueless about Ric's but the price is right.
  4. gwangi


    Jul 4, 2009
    Forbidden Valley
    Make sure it has a double truss rod by unscrewing the truss rod cover on the headstock and looking to see if it has 2 truss rods.
    Make sure it has both input jacks, one saying standard the other being stereo.
    I would look up and down the neck for cracks, if I where you also I would be researching whatever source you can via the internet or music stores that have vintage Rickenbackers, also if you can take a bunch of pictures before you buy and post them here on TalkBass for other Rick experts to look at and give you advise if that would be possible, that would be truly the way to go if I was you.
    Hope this helps.
  5. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I'd ask to remove the truss rod cover and check the nuts - there should be no wear. In the old days, lots of techs didn't know how to adjust them. If the strings are round wounds, check for fret wear. I had a set on mine, and within a month, I saw wear. Some 4001's didn't like the round wounds at all. Mine was one of them.

    Also check for tail lift - the bridge should be flat against the body. If it's slightly lifted at the rear, it's probably ok, if it's significant, the tail piece will most likely need to be replaced.

    Since there are known non-original parts, I'd also ask to remove the pick guard. Check for poor solder joints and obvious replacement pots, caps, and wiring. The route from the neck pickup to the control cavity should look pretty rough - in those days they didn't route it, but instead, used a drill bit and made multiple connecting holes.

    Check that the serial number is on the jack plate, and check for both a mono jack and stereo (rick-o-sound) jack.

    If you have a smart phone, you can check the serial number right on the Ric website.

    1973 was a transitional year, so there may be a checkered binding or not.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.
  6. Thanks guys, that's some useful information. I didn't post this link before because I didn't want competition...:ninja:
  7. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    FYI, that thumb rest is added, and it's missing the treble pickup cover. But that price is really, really good. This would have to be pretty bad to pass this up.
  8. I thought so too. Again, thanks for the advice!
  9. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Man, I'd be all over that!
  10. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    That is no '73 4001, more like '75 or later. 1" neck pickup location and the controls are in the late '70s to early '80s configuration. Some of the above comments are off base, too. Why are replaced parts a RED FLAG, for one thing? This is not uncommon with lots of old instruments, sometimes just for the fun of modding an instruments, sometimes because something got damaged and needed replacing, just for a couple of reasons. It looks like this pickguard was replaced for the cosmetics of this one being a mirrored one.

    Truss rod nuts that have some wear on them is not a big deal, either, they sometimes need to be adjusted and can get a bit worn looking over time if done often enough. Even if there is some fingerboard separation that is not as big a deal as a lot of guys here (probably armchair experts) seem to think. There are lots of examples out there of this and even some serious cracks running down the necks that have been repaired and are as strong as new, really. Do learn how to adjust these rods correctly and most likely, once adjusted for the strings of your choice, will never have to be adjusted again.

    I do take pause with the seller's comment:

    Some?!?!?!?!?!?!? :eek:

    That gives me some pause if only because he has just slightly under exaggerated his description of the condition of the back of the bass. He also failed to mention the Fender style thumb rest that has been added to the bass.

    If you remove the TRC to check the truss rod nuts be careful when screwing it back down:

    DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE SCREWS! You will crack the plexi. If that does happen you will owe the seller quite a chunk of change.

    These '70s 4001s are pretty robust instruments unless messed with by an ignorant owner or "tech". :)
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I think it is worth the $900 he is asking.
  12. Meaning that's the amount you'd sell it for, or that you find it to be a good price?
  13. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    There will be a serial number stamped into the jackplate: 2 letters on the upper end and 4 numbers on the lower.

    Run the serial number here: http://www.rickenbacker.com/service_serials.asp

    The seller shouldn't be unwilling to do this, it's part of any standard authenticity verification of a Rick bass.
    Looks authentic, but it is likely later production than the seller claims.
    Use this to your advantage if it is the case.

    Here's a helpful site for info on how to spot a fake, and when you do buy it, how to set up and maintain it.

    And yeah, if it's in good working order, that's a pretty decent price.
  14. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Better yet, let the seller do the TRC removal.
    I would do so if I were selling the bass, as a matter of fact I'd insist on doing it myself until it was paid for.

    Again, the seller shouldn't refuse this, as it's normal procedure for proving the authenticity of the bass.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    It is probably worth a little more as long as the neck is alright.
  16. A-Step-Towards

    A-Step-Towards Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Los Angeles California
    That bass is worth more then $900, hundreds more so long as the neck is fine.

    I would not have posted that link. I would have saved the photos to photobucket and posted from there.
  17. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    October '73 would have an "MJ" serial number. Of course, jack plates are interchangeable. The 1" neck pickup spacing and the vol/tone knob configuration might just be an artifact of the replaced pickguard. Guards with the 1/2" spacing are less common, so if the old guard were cracked, a 1" spacing guard might have been all the owner could find. It's possible some routing may have had to have been done for the 1" placement, so I'd look under the guard as well.

    Still, $900 is a pretty good deal if the neck and truss rods are in good shape.
  18. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Yep, do a little homework OP, and tomorrow morning you will probably have a nice NBD.
  19. Korladis

    Korladis Supporting Member

    When in the 70's did they stop doing the full width fretboard inlays?
  20. Again, thanks all. I feel pretty good about this whole thing, so long as every thing looks good "under the hood." I do have a smart phone, so I'll run the serial number on site. I'll also have some screwdrivers in my car in case the seller can't find any. FWIW, he seemed like a very nice man over the phone.