modernized Ric

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by alansan, Jun 18, 2004.

  1. alansan


    Mar 12, 2004
    Dublin, Ireland
    After discovering that I find Rickenbackers more comfortable to play than the other custom instruments I own I had a thought.

    I love the Ric sound and the amazing neck through sustain so I'd like to keep my present 94 Fireglow Ric as is and buy another for modification.

    Has anyone tried completely changing the electronics of a 4003 beyond switching pick-ups? Would it be possible for example to fit a 2 band pre-amp and active pick-ups and get a modern sound?

    I know the 4004/5s have hb pick-ups etc. but I don't like their looks at all. For me the 4003 is the ultimate Ric look.

    Also, I've heard that the stock Ric bridge is the weak link in the design and would benefit from replacement. Has anyone done this?
  2. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I posted this a month or so again, I think someone here did that.. I really can't remember :p
  3. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    I'm not a huge expert on Rics, so you'll have to take my advice with a grain of salt!

    First, regarding the bridge. A common modification that's been made to a lot of Rics is to replace the bridge with a Badass. That's a fairly drastic change, so I'd recommend you look for one that's already had the modification made. It'll significantly effect the price you pay, BTW. Also, most Rics I've seen with this mod had an original Badass, not the Badass II. The original Badass required some serious routing on the body.

    The beauty of buying an instrument that's already been so radically altered is that it's gonna be difficult for you to effect the value even further, as it's already down due to the previous modification.

    Regarding the electronics, a friend of mine here as changed a few Rics by putting rewound pickups in them. He actually winds the pickups himself, and makes them super hot to get closer to the sound he's looking for. Another option is that one of the big manufacturers, I think it's Bartolini, makes replacement pickups for Rickenbacker that'll drop straight in. Both these mods will mean you can (hopefully) make the change without routing the bass. The third option is to go postal on the instrument, and rout it out for whatever electronics you want. You're gonna kill resale value doing this, but then, hopefully you've bought the bass cheap enough because of the Badass.

    Just to reiterate, I think the main thing to remember is this - the moment you start routing the bass and makign significant changes, you'll kill resale value, so it's better to try and find a used bass that's already got some of the stuff done to it that you want.

    Good luck - it sounds like a great project.
  4. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I've done all kinds of reversible (in most cases) mods on my Rick. Different pickups, different wiring schemes, etc. I've unwound the stock pickups down to a more vintage rating for a more '70s sound (modern stock pickups are pretty hot.)

    Right now I have the Bartolini set installed. The bass still has that characteristic Rick tone, but it's now got that Bart vibe to it as well. I've also tried the Seymor Duncan/Basslines bridge pickup for Rick basses, but I didn't like it as much.

    I've never messed with onboard preamps though. The thing with Rick basses is, they're pretty thin and the control cavity is only 1" deep. You may be able to fit a preamp and battery in there, but the cavity isn't quite deep enough for a lot of the push-pull pots out there that come in handy on onboard preamps (for active bypass and midrange frequency select.)

    Replacing the bridge is a pretty extensive undertaking. The body's all routed funny for the stock bridge and you'll need a decent amount of work done (filling the old cavity, etc) to get a new bridge on there.
  5. Chris' Guitars has a 4001 with a BadAss and Bartolinis:
  6. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    Wow .... that's quite nice, actually. I like the way they've put that block over the space left by the old bridge. Looks very neat.
  7. I put a EMG BTS active preamp in my 74 rick.
  8. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I had one of the original Badass bridges put in my 4001 back in 1981. It required body routing, but it really made a difference in tone and sustain. I had the Duncans in it, and I've now changed to the Barts, but I've kept it passive. I'd bet a set of Barts and the Bart 3-band EQ would give you a lot of different sounds..
  9. davepack

    davepack Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I modified my ric... routed the neck-pickup hole to fit a P pickup, replaced the bridge with a J. I used an active EMG P/J set. Sounds GREAT...a lot more versatile than the stock pickups.
  10. alansan


    Mar 12, 2004
    Dublin, Ireland
    Thanks for the feedback everybody, that sounds encouraging. Davepack and 74rickbass, is the tone you get from these mods a complete transformation of the vintage tone or is more of a traditional Ric on steroids?

    Thats what I'm looking for, the playability of a 4003 Ric but with a very different, modern tone.