SOLD FS only: 1981 Rickenbacker 4003 – my first bass.

Discussion in 'For Sale: Bass Guitars' started by BartmanPDX, Jul 27, 2009.

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  1. I agonized over this for a long time and it kinda hurts, but here goes . . .

    Up for sale is my first bass, a Ric 4003. I bought this bass used (somewhat heavily) during my freshman year in college, so it would have been either the fall of ’86 or possibly early ’87. I wanted to be Geddy Lee!!!


    Anyway, the previous owner had played it quite a bit, and most of the wear occurred before I got it. I got my Steinberger in ’88 and since then the Ric mostly stayed in its case. There is a lot of buckle rash on the back:


    The previous owner had also installed phase switches, which produced a lot of noise but not much sonic benefit. However, he had drilled holes in the PG and so when I had it rewired and the switches removed several years ago, I had to have a new PG made. The newer PG is clear with a white background so it looks like solid white except up close where the knobs seem to “float” visually due to the clear top on the PG. Looks pretty good, but not exactly “vintage” up close. It has two cracks in it where the neck pickup is mounted.


    I will include the pieces of the old PG (it broke into pieces at one point) as well as the switches that the tech removed.

    At one point I also had a popular mod done involving the capacitor. Ric experts would probably know what this is – I think it’s a popular/common mod to do. It really opened up the tone of the bass. I can’t recall exactly what was done and I can’t find the receipt. In any event, here’s the electronics:


    (dog toy was used for photo so that the wiring wouldn't get stressed/broken)

    Edit: Thanks to Jaymi for telling me where to find the serial number. It is UB 3## and the Rick decoder site computes that it was made in February 1981.

    AFAIK, most things are original on this bass. Obviously, the electronics have been rewired after removing the phase switches and doing the cap mod. I’m not sure if the stereo “Ric-o-sound” jack is wired right – I never really used it – but I will include the ric-o-sound splitter box as I was afraid they were going to stop making them, so I ordered one a few years ago. I’ve just never used it as I don’t play the bass much and never really set up two rigs at once. The pickups and bridge are original to the best of my knowledge. The tuners are original, but at least one screw and a few washers went missing at one point and were replaced by ones that are not an exact match. It probably would not be too hard to find matching ones, but it hasn’t been a priority for me.


    The truss rods work fine but I think I remember that the nuts were replaced at one point since there seem to be two extra nuts that the tech left. I haven’t messed with them as the neck hasn’t moved at all for me and the action is medium low just where I like it. There is a fair bit of fretwear, though the bass still plays quite well. At some point fairly soon the frets will need to be leveled, and the tech said that there is enough fret material left for one leveling, but not much more. Eventually the frets will have to be replaced, but that won’t be for a while. This bass is over 25 years old, and there definitely is some wear and tear . . .


    I do not have the pickup covers, but the bass will ship in the original case. As I was foolish in my youth, I put some stickers on the case – a GK and a Steinberger sticker as well as an “I (heart) fireworks” sticker – and they are regrettably still there. However, overall the case is in pretty good shape considering the age. There are a few tolex tears and such, but the hinges seem solid and it has all four feet on the bottom, though one of the ones on the side (the bottom when the case is open) is missing. I never got any lock keys for the case or case candy or such with the bass.

    That’s pretty much it to the best of my knowledge. Ric experts are welcome to chime in with comments or any corrections. I can only attest to what’s been done on the bass since I got it in ’86. I have more photos and can take more and I'll do my best to answer anyone's questions. I'm committed to selling this as this bass really deserves to be played. As much as I like it, it just doesn't get much playing time.

    $1300 shipped via paypal. No trades. I’m in no rush as this is being sold to pay for my custom bass which won’t be ready for six months.
  2. One more pic showing the truss rods. The nuts were replaced at one point, and the action is very good.

  3. lowfreqguy


    Oct 18, 2000
    Baltimore, MD
    Great ad. This is a cool bass for a good price, but I know it wouldn't get much playing time in my stable, either. Good luck with the sale.
  4. Jaymi

    Jaymi Pink Bass Man

    Feb 11, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Ampeg , GHS
    look on the plate where the jacks are and you should see 2 letters and a couple of numbers, that will help date the bass.
  5. Duh. Thanks!! I hadn't thought of looking there.

    I put the serial number into the Rickenbacker serial number decoder (I feel like a kid again!) and it spit out February '81.
  6. I played this last night through my IP310 and am really kind of wishing I could hold on to it. Still, something has to go to pay for the new bass. Sigh. GAS is a tough mistress. :(
  7. Bump.
  8. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Free bump for any Ric bass. Yours looks pretty good for an '81. Very fair price, too. Good luck, hope you have no regrets.
  9. Thanks!!

  10. nice first bass...mine was an arbor ;)
  11. bumpus.
  12. arbitrary

    arbitrary Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Boston, MA
    My first bass was a bright yellow Seville; a pbass copy. Lucky SOB.
  13. davec

    davec Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 4, 2006
    Fort Wayne Indiana
    Owner; Cody Electric Basses ( Now Closed) sales @ Sweetwater
    I see your Arbor & Seville and raise you a used 3/4 scale used Silvertone J copy w/ mismatched tuners bump
  14. dlegault


    Nov 11, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    oh if only i wasn't moving at the end of the month.

  15. So says the gentleman who's not even nearing 30 and yet already has a Ritter and a Drozd.

    Life is hard. :p

    But yes, it was a KILLER first bass. Paid for by the money I earned by having a dorky paper route in high school. Do kids still have paper routes these days?

    I wonder if Geddy Lee had a paper route when he was a kid . . .
  16. 4Mal

    4Mal Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    new bass being built, eh ? and what might that be ?
  17. One of the new Sadowsky Will Lee models. I got the chance to try one when I was in NY and immediately fell in love with the new preamp. Best Jazz I've ever played. Visually, it should look like this:


    which has been my dream bass look for at least the last year. The Will Lee looks slightly different (one more fret, slightly larger lower cutout), but that's the wood/color scheme I wanted.

    It's my first (and probably last) custom bass order, and so I went all out.
  18. Bumpin'
  19. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I had a paper route. It seemed that I always lost money so my mom ended up covering my losses. My route had all apartments so people would move out and stiff me all the time.

    Now all papers seem to be delivered by car. At least around here.
  20. Dude.

    I wish you all the best in everything, bass and otherwise, but:

    DON'T SELL THIS BASS! You will regret it forever!

    She's your first and you've had her 25 years!


    Get another paper route to pay for that Sadowsky.
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