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Hipshot Rickenbacker 4003 Bridge Question?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BassBeginer64, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. BassBeginer64

    BassBeginer64 Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2018
    Riverside Ca
    I have a question on the replacement Hipshot Bridge for the 4003 Rickenbacker - Brass or Aluminum? using Flat wounds

    My reasons to replace it, is I keep hearing about tail lifting and a pain to set up string height. Figure on set and forget it .
  2. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    The consensus (if there ever is one on TB) is that the brass ones tend to make Rics slightly “body heavy”. Is your particular Ric bass neck heavy? I define that by what it does sitting on your knee for practice. If you take your hand off the neck, does it dive? If so, i’d get a brass bridge. If your particular bass is well balanced (like most Rics), don’t mess with it, Get an aluminum one. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of chasing sustain and tone with bridge changes, it’s a waste of money for nearly inaudible results. It will sound virtually the same either way, so decide based on balance.
    rickreck and ImprecisionBass like this.
  3. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    t Tone Twins 4.JPG To answer your questions:
    1. Tail lifting - Yes, lots of older Rick basses have a little tail lift; and in some cases they can develop quite a lot. But, that's rare. The original tailpieces were aluminum, and didn't have this problem. When RIC switched to a zinc alloy tailpiece, they used 7 screws on them; 3 under the bridge (like now); 2 where the ones on yours are; and an additional 2 at the back of the tailpiece. After years of owners howling about how "unsightly" the back screws were, RIC deleted them (who says John Hall never listens..?). When they did that - voila! - tail lift.. Both of my Ricks; an '01 4003, and a '73 4001, have some lift. Strangely enough, despite the big difference in age, the lift is identical - the thickness of a credit card. And the 4001 has always worn flats, too... Does it bother me? No, not in the least; it hasn't changed since I bought them - and that was quite a while ago... Does tail lift bother other people? Oh my, YES...:rolleyes: A few years ago, RIC said that they'd increased the thickness of the zinc casting, to cure the problem. IIRC, they also added some stiffening ribs as well, but I couldn't swear to that.. But, from the lack of complaints about actual tail lift in new Ricks, they may have finally fixed it. Most posts from newer Rick bass owners seem to be ones worrying about the possibility, not actual lift.. But, if the possibility haunts you, then, by all means - replace it.
    Alembic bridge. 2. Setting string height. If the ability to set individual string height is important to you? Sorry; no, you can't do it on a Rick bridge. It's fixed to match the neck radius, and all you can do is raise it up or down as a unit. Which, IMO, is both easy and quick. Setting intonation is kind of a fiddly pain (unless you bend a little screwdriver to do it with), but it's fiddly on lots of other bridges, too. I have a lot of basses, and most of them are the fixed radius type. Even my very expensive Alembic's bridge (like this one) is a fixed radius type; The only real problem I have with it, is polishing the darned thing... Anyway, if you want "set and forget"? Then, keep your stock bridge. Rick bridges are famous for that. Unless they're dedicated string experimenters, very, very few Rick owners ever have to do anything to their bass' bridge. I honestly can't remember the last time I ever touched the bridges on my two; initial set up, most likely...:whistle:
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
    ImprecisionBass likes this.
  4. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    Just for clarification: They didn't always use seven screw tailpieces once the switch from the aluminum ones to the zinc ones. The two extra screws were not implemented until many years later, probably with the introduction of their 5 string basses, and particularly, the black powder coated tailpieces, IIRC.

    That is one of the reasons, among a couple others, that I sold off my two Alembics. I'd like another one but if I did get one it must have chrome plated hardware throughout.

    To the OP, if you are buying a recent to new 4003 you won't have any tail lift issues. As to setting intonation, unless you change to different gauges/tensions of strings every time you change your strings the bridge is pretty mush set and forget, as GIBrat51 said.

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