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down tuning a Rickenbacker 4001

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vivaknoxvegas, Sep 11, 2002.

  1. vivaknoxvegas

    vivaknoxvegas El Duderino Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    Has anyone had problems downtuning a Rick with the whole string tension, truss rod issues?

    I am trying to get a 79 4001 and I would be tuning it to C#, G#, C#, F#

    Would I have problems doing that or do they respond well to it? Thanks.
  2. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    GET A 5 STRING!!!!!!

    ;) :D


  3. vivaknoxvegas

    vivaknoxvegas El Duderino Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    I have a 5 string. I want to play the Rick in that tuning. Will I just need to get the Rick re-setup? Where are all the Rickenfreaks? Thanks.
  4. tim4003


    Apr 30, 2002
    Dawsonville , GA
    I wouldn't think there would be a problem. I've done it a few times with my 4003 and it was fine!
  5. One of the bands I'm currently playing with.. I tune my '83 Rick 4001 to C# F# B E... I've had no probs. :)
  6. It would work - you certainly would need an adjustment though. I tried it with my 4003 and the low C# seems pretty unfocused, there's a lot of weird overtones that make it a little odd to figure out what note it is. YMMV.

    IMHO, Ricks are not basses that are well suited to low tunings.

  7. babecker


    Mar 7, 2002
    Sykesville, MD
    The band I play in requires me to tune all strings down a half step and occasionally drop the low string further to C# -- my 2002 Ric doesn't like it at all. My fingerstyle playing style causes the low string to "click"/"pop", even when playing as gently as possible, which is very annoying and crappy sounding. It's a shame, since the bass plays so nicely and sounds great on the other strings.

    In fact, does anyone have experience with this? Any ideas at eliminating the pickup popping? I've tried:

    1. Lowering the bridge pickup (the neck pickup's not adjustable)

    2. Using higher tension (nickel) strings (haven't tried flatwounds though...)

    3. Raising the action/bridge

    Nothing seems to work...could the popping be eliminated by cutting a particular frequency? (I don't have a parametric eq anyway...) New pickups?

    ANy thoughts? (shy of switching to a pick -- I don't like the sound) Thanks for any insights...
  8. I've said it before and I'll say it agian... Ricks are definitely not suited to drop tuning. Even DADG is no fun, really. I do it on occasion (say, to play a lot of stuff on _Test for Echo_), but it really does not sound or feel near as good as it does in standard tuning. I'm using fairly high tension DR Hi-Beam strings, and if I go drop-D, I have to pussyfoot around that string if I don't want it to buzz and flop, and it definitely doesn't sound near as good as it does when tuned to E.

    You must remember the scale length is 33.25", not the standard 34". Whether or not this makes much of a difference is debatable, but personally I find it makes a very noticable difference in string tension and playing feel. I like it, but only in standard tuning.

    If you love your Rick as much as I do, and you really must a lot of drop tuning, give some consideration to owning a second (cheaper?) bass that is better suited to downtuning...or, save up and trade the Rick in for a Spector or something.

    I've played a Rick 5 string, it was quite an unpleasant experience.

    I love Rickenbacker basses dearly, and I swear no one could ever make me part with my 4003JG unless they killed me and pried it from my cold, dead hands with a crowbar (thus almost certainly scratching the finish in the process!) but I also know they have a bunch of design flaws that severely limit their flexability. What they're made to do, they do extremely well, but try to get all fancy-schmancy with the weird tunings (or, as RIC themselves did and add a fifth string...) and you'll upset the almighty Rickenbacker-balance.

  9. Can you buy a pitchshifter pedal and just lower the entire signal? Saves you time when retuning too.
  10. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Ah, detuning, a fine art to some. my advice, for killer, focused strings and tension that's acually just a hair tighter than regular tuning (but overall lower, due to gauges). String it BEAD, and then tune CFBE. it's about a hair up from BEAD, actually, so I could go from super detuned to E with about a quarter turn on the tuning keys. But, that's another half step lower than what you're looking at...
  11. babecker


    Mar 7, 2002
    Sykesville, MD
    Yeah...this is what I was afraid of... Well, I'm definitely keeping the ric. Plays like a dream. I guess I'll just have to pick up another bass to use with the band... Now I have another excuse to buy another bass. Nice.
  12. I can't imagine this works particularly well on a Rick either. First of all, you'd ruin any chance of going back to EADG when you file the nut to accept bigger strings. Second, I use a 110 E string, and dropping that to D sounds unfocused and uneven.

    If you have the money, that's definitely the way to go. If you can only afford to own one bass (which is my situation at the moment!) then you either have to accept the limitations of your instrument or get a different instrument that doesn't have the same limitations. Of course then it doesn't have that special Rick-goodness!

    Rickenbackers are the Saabs of bass guitars - you have to love them right where the quirks are, and not miss what they hopelessly suck at.

    Please don't get me wrong, I *love* my Rick for what it can do, and where I'm at with my playing at this time, I don't need or miss what it can't do well. I've played instruments that many would deem "far superior" to a Rick. Many have lower action, are more flexable, sound better through more amps, are infinitely more adjustable and customizable... but none of them rub me that "right" way.

  13. try some heavy strings....:)
  14. I'm using the heaviest guage of DR HiBeams (that's 50-70-90-110) on my 4003, and drop tuning still sounds crummy.

  15. heres what ya do....go outside and cut off some telephone wire, set that up and you should be set!
  16. OOO! I know, I'll get a bunch of that thick cable from winch of my uncle's Cat 518 skidder... that might do it!

  17. thats using the ole noodle!:)

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