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Can one get great low end out of a Rick?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skel, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hello all,

    I am a guitarist switched over to bassist. I currently have a Mexican Fender Precision, a Rick 4003, and a MusicMan Stingray. My amp(s) are an Ampeg B2R into an SVT410HLF cabinet, along with a BA115 that I am, at some point, going to try running in stereo with the B2R for hopefully more lowend. So far, the Stingray is my newest bass and is going back - just too "clicky" sounding - I think one's technique has to be much better than mine to make these sound good. The Rick is my favorite bass, but being in a 3 piece band I have found the Precison to be almost crucial to the band's sound because of the thick, deep bottom end. I was wondering if anybody knows if I am just hearing things? It seems like the Rick (I use both pickups - everthing full up) is not as loud as the Precision, and would something like an SVT-4 PRO, or maybe something like a Gallien-Krueger, or SWR with 2X15's give the Rick that deep bottom end while maintaining the nice mids and highs that I loose with the Precison? Last, especially with the Precision I notice that some notes are quite a bit louder than others (i.e., the E on the 7th fret A string is really loud, almost any notes on the D and G strings are not loud enough). Maybe somebody could give me some ideas as to how to set the 9 band EQ, the gain & volumes on the B2R, and the cabinet tweeter for the best possible tone for both the Precision and the Rick. I guess I would certainly entertain any ideas on the Stingray as well before I return it.

  2. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    BTW - my Mexican Precision is black, had a white pickguard until yesterday when my new custom $75.00 pickguard (kind of a black & white zebra thang) came in. Now I can honestly say I have *the* ugliest, most offensive bass guitar on the planet. I hope I can somehow turn this into a good thing!
  3. xring


    Sep 16, 2003
    I'm not going to be able to give you an exact explanation of this, but it's worth checking out. On my 3rd Rickenbacker (4003) I stated to a "musical instrument repair guy" who was fixing my Taurus pedals that I wished my Rick had a beefier bottom end. He said he had the cure and had performed a minor procedure on another Rick. It consists of accessing the wiring under the pickguard and running a jumper wire over a capacitor. I don't know which one, or even how many are in there. It is easily reversable and almost free. All I know is that the lower register is significantly beefed up, and I lost no upper mid, trebley bite of the Rick we know and love. Sorry I can't give you more details (this was many years ago). Worth looking into IMO. Randy
  4. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I'd keep the Stingray, they're perfect for the kind of sound you seem to be going for, 'Rays are known for their huge low end and sizzling highs. Do you play with a pick, by chance? Does it still sound too "clicky" with the treble set flat?
  5. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Well, the Rick mod sounds good - but it sounds like I would have to research at least the most common electronic mods to a Rick to find out exactly what I wanted to have done to it.

    As far as the Stingray - I had ready so many good things about them, and was so excited about getting it. I actually play with my fingers. I can play much better with a pick, but the tone (IMHO) just goes down the drain. I play with the treble and mid flat (or a touch below flat) and the bass a touch above flat. Playing the Stingray made me realize that my finger style is, in the "Classical guitar" sense, a "rest stroke" and not a "free stroke", so my finger will pluck a string and land on the string below it. I realized that by curling my fingers more, and "grabbing" the string instead of "hitting" the string, I could get rid of a lot of the clicking, but not all of it. So I just assumed I was simply not good enough with my fingers for this particular instrument. It also has a maple fretboard - don't know if this has anything to do with it, and the stock strings. I've always used Ernie Ball strings as a guitarist - but I don't know how good they are as bass strings, or whether the strings would contribute to this "clickiness". BTW - does anybody know what I'm talking about regarding this "clickiness"?


  6. Yup, I think know exactly what you mean. When your finger lands on the string below the one you're playing the string hits the frets once, right?
    It's a common beginners mistake(actually, some people like it and do it intentionally) and can easily be relieved by using a lighter attack. You could also try picking closer to the bridge, though this will result in a bit of loss in bottom end, which I guess is counterproductive in your case.
  7. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Exactly. Funny how you can get away with this mistake on pretty much every bass with non-active pickups. I also know what you mean about moving closer to the bridge - not really a bad idea with the Stingray, since you can easily compensate for the low end loss with the EQ.

    Since I'm really comfortable playing like this, I'm struggling with changing my style, but I actually like the idea of the challenge to get proficient enough to use this bass, because it really does cover the entire spectrum better than the Precision. Hopefully by being forced into changing my technique, there will be other benefits, like becoming a little faster. I assume any good bass teacher would recognize this technique as a flaw and correct me?

    Thanks for you input

  8. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I have given a few ex-guitarist some "toodlage" in the past. It does sound like playing back further tward the bridge will help. This will change the tone as you know but will give you more punch. This may make you want to boost your low end up which might sure up your your sound a bit overall. The direction that you fingers "pull" the string(ie up tward the next lower string, etc) is important also. There are lot's of different techniques that work for alot of different people and they all produce a different sound. I would get as many first hand physical examples as possible and see what you are comfortable with. One thing to keep in mind is, unlike a guitar with a pick, it generally helps to get alot of "meat" on the strings. Guitarist that switch to bass generally have great left hands, much of your bass tone will come from your right.
  9. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    As a guitarist, I never really appreciated how good bass players can be, and how they make playing with their fingers look so easy, when in fact it is quite difficult. Now that I have been doing it consistently for about 10 months, it's starting to feel more and more natural and I'm sure there is quite a bit of muscle development in my right hand going on. I started playing with a pick and sure, you can get away with it, but the tone you can get by using your fingers is well worth the work. To me playing with a pick produces a rough, harsh tone that lacks sensitivity. Plus it's simply way more fun, and fun to watch someone playing with their fingers.

    All guitar players should play bass for at least a few months just to appreciate what's goin' on down on the bottom! Great stuff and *not* easy.

    Thanks for the advice - Skel
  10. haha

  11. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Regarding the Rick capacitor mod...

    This will only work if you have an older Rick. Rickenbacker quit putting that cap in their instruments in the late '80s. It's a small value cap that's wired in series with the bridge pickup, and it pretty much cuts frequencies from about 500Hz down. Many players of older Ricks have done this over the years to get more low end out of their basses. It seems like Rickenbacker originally put that cap in to give their instruments more clarity and perceived loudness than the competition in the wee early days when amps were wimpy and couldn't take as many low-end frequencies without bottoming out.

    On the flip side, there are people who take a modern Rick and add that capacitor to get that vintage Rick tone. (I've played around with it myself, but I missed having the low mid growl from the bridge pickup.)
  12. 8guy


    Jun 19, 2005
    Madison WI
    I was going to suggest this too, I got a used 4003 in about 93 that had two small togle switches above the controll knobs, and That bass could put my 74 Pbass at the ime to shame in tone, But not for being a steady top 40s bar band bass, so they each served a role in my set up.
  13. Bob the Bass

    Bob the Bass

    Aug 13, 2004
  14. RedVette


    Jan 1, 2005
    Medford, OR
    I have a RIC 4003 and a Fender Jazz. I think the low end of the RIC is much "cleaner" and hence may sound as if it is not as loud. I prefer the clarity to the perceived volume. When I want a little more emphasis on the low end of the RIC, I just bump up the EQ a little.

    I also have a RIC 4004C (Cheyenne) which produces a very clean sound, but is somewhat "darker" than the 4003 and the perceived sound is heavier on the low end.
  15. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Yea - I am not giving up on the Ric at all, and if I have to turn the amp up louder and boost the EQ, I'll do it. I kind of posted this thread to find out if maybe there was an optimal bass amp, or at least speaker preference to get the most out of a 4003. I know McCartney got great tone in the studio, but IMHO as soon as he went from the Beatles to Wings - his tone got really boingy / bouncy, and goofy sounding - no low end. Geddy Lee (according to an interview I read) had the most awesome tone, and he used some kind of Sunn solid state head with two 15" cabs for live and studio. I did see Rush in their early days and I would have to say his tone sounded kind of empty - so both McCartney and Lee had great studio recorded tone, but neither one had "to die for" tone live. Then you have guys like Chris Squire who's super trebly tone worked great in "Yes", but I just can't imagine, for example, Dusty Hill getting away with using a Ric.

  16. I ditched your exact rig (B2R, 410HLF) in favour of a 35, 50 or 100w tube heads (sometimes an Eden WT800 for big gigs) and an 8x10...although in my bands i've always been after a very aggressive midrange-heavy sound, effectively a lead bass tone.

    But i've never had to crank the low end on any of my amps to keep up, often i've found i've had to tame the low end sometimes.

    Different strokes though. Recording-wise a Ric will cut through so much more than a P ever will, but then again they are COMPLETELY different sounding basses.

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