NBD: 1974 Rickenbacker 4001 with questions for the experts (Pic heavy!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JC BASS 91, Jan 23, 2023.

  1. JC BASS 91

    JC BASS 91

    Oct 22, 2021
    SW Missouri
    On Saturday, I did the rounds to pawn shops and music stores that I do every month or so with a guitarist buddy. The first place we visited had a 1974 Ric 4001. I fell in love, but just couldn’t justify spending the money they were asking…even though the guy stated that they had JUST marked it down $2000 from their original asking price. The guy told me that the seller said that it had spent at least the last decade in its case under the bed.

    I went home and felt sick about not getting it. I have a 1974 Fender Bassman 50 amp, and the idea of having both an amp and bass from the same year really ate at me. The dating for my amp puts it being built in the latter part of 1974 (the newest cap being dated in August of 1974). The date code on the Ric bass shows August of 1974, so, yeah, even more of a match.:cool:

    My wife told me to buy it. My guitar buddy told me to buy it. My drummer from my band told me to buy it. I listed out all the pros and cons and it was a really lopsided list, with the con side only having one item in it: price.

    Sunday came and went and I went in there today and played it, then walked out with it. It had the original hard case, and when the guy opened the case, there was a Shure SM58 in a Shure zipper bag inside, so I got that as part of the deal, too, so, I didn’t pay as much for the bass as I thought I did. :D

    There are a few problems. The pickup cover is missing from the bass and it was not in the case (I did find one for sale on Reverb and snagged it, though, so I will at least have that covered). There are some dings, scrapes and rashes here and there, but hey, its 48 freaking years old. The pots are a little scratchy, but I’m hoping some electronic contact cleaner will clear that right up (maybe? See questions below). The tuners aren’t original, having been replaced at some point with Grover tuners (original tuner screw holes are still there on the back of the headstock).

    I don’t know if I still paid too much or not (especially after buying the replacement pickup cover), but I now have one of my dream basses, and I doubt it will go down in value in the coming years.

    Overall, I am just plain excited to have a real Ric 4001, now. The neck is SO nice on this! I have only ever played 4003s and I hated the necks on them!

    (more pics at bottom of post)

    1974 Goodness.jpg

    Now for several questions for the Ric experts in the house:

    First, concerning the Ric-o-Sound jack: Should a normal stereo splitter cable (1/4” TRS to two mono 1/4” jacks) work for that?

    Second, am I good to spray some contact cleaner into the pots to try and clear up the scratchiness in them? Normally, I wouldn’t even ask, and I can’t fathom why I’m hesitant to do it with this bass, nor do I have a reason why I would think it wouldn’t be ok, just want someone to pat me on the head and tell me I’m good to go.:unsure:

    Three, if I should have to replace any of the pots or jacks, should I hold onto the originals? I don’t ever plan to sell this, and I have known the NEXT owner of this instrument for almost 23 years (my son).

    Fourth, it appears the string mutes have mostly rotted away. Can those be replaced, or should I just leave well enough alone? I don’t really plan on using them, but, you know, want to try and get it back to ‘normal’.

    Fifth, am I nuts for wanting to put Dunlop strap locks on? Or should I just plan on using some of those rubber “strap locks” like Fender and other companies make? I normally put Dunlop strap locks on my instruments, but I think it might be a bad idea with this one.

    Lastly, I believe Ric originally sold the basses with flats on them (did they still do that in 1974?). If they did, is it possible that the coiled strings I have in the case are the original flats that came on the bass? I ask because they were in the case and not sure why, unless the previous owner liked to switch back and forth between flats and rounds? It currently has the rounds on it.


    In regards to strings, do the experts have a suggestion for this bass? For reference, I am normally a rounds player, but do have Labella Deep Talkin’ flats on my Fender Precision. I use SIT Nickel Powerwounds on my Carvin LB-70, D’Addario XL strings on my two short scales, and D’Addario NYXL strings on everything else except for my Leo Jaymz RB kit (Ric clone), which currently has RotoSound 66s on it.

    Body Front.jpg Back Damage to Finish.jpg Back Left.jpg Back Right.jpg Back.jpg Bridge Detail.jpg Case Accessory Compartment.jpg Case Back 1.jpg Case Back 2.jpg Case Damaged Latch.jpg Case Exterior Top.jpg Case Interior 1.jpg Control Detail.jpg Down the Fretboard.jpg Front Left.jpg Front Right.jpg Headstock Back.jpg Headstock Front.jpg Pickup Detail.jpg

    Thank you all for any help, information and pointers you might have for this new Ric owner!!
  2. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass. Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I think for 2k you got a bargain! I personally wouldn't install pickup cover as it just gets in my way. In the 60s 4001s had closed back wavy Grovers, I'm not sure when they switched to cloverleaf. The open back wavy Grovers look cool if they work well I'd leave 'em. Congrats on a beautiful bass! As for the mute I wouldn't bother replacing it, I never use it. Rickenbacker may be able to supply a new mute or fashion one yourself from dense foam. Strings? I'm a Rotosound guy but for flats I'd recommend Labella Deep Talk'n Flats. Warning on round I would not use Rotosound on these, use Rickenbacker rounds or Ernie Ball nickle, stainless will eat those frets. Also nothing higher than 100 gauge for the E Rics don't like big heavy gauge strings.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
  3. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    I don't know what kind of sound you are looking for, but when I think 4001, I think Chris Squire, then I think RotoSound 66. That is the sound I hear in my head when I think 4001.
    Nice snag.
  4. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    congrats man! Beautiful bass! If I understand correctly and you paid $2k, that is a helluva deal!

    Do you mean that you plug the two mono jacks into the bass and then the TRS into an amp? That's not going to work unless the amp input takes a TRS and splits the signal. The Ric-o-sound is made to take two normal 1/4" jacks and send the two bass outputs to two separate amps.

    yes, this won't be a problem

    I don't see why you would want to get rid of them. Any time I do a mod I keep the old parts in a box or bag and label them with the bass. You never know what can heppen down the road, always best to hang onto any original parts

    this is very common. I would leave well enough alone

    Dunlop straplock won't work without modifying the bass - the screws are too large and you'll need to drill larger holes to get the screws to fit. I was in the same boat - all of my basses have Dunlop except for my Ric. I ended up buying the Schaller's that are specific to Rics and using the Schaller locks.
    JKB1957 likes this.
  5. JC BASS 91

    JC BASS 91

    Oct 22, 2021
    SW Missouri
    I wish I only paid $2000 for it. That is what they had taken OFF the price before I bought it, plus I paid $300 less than their asking price out the door. I will say I paid less than what similar condition ones on Reverb are selling for, so I feel like I got a decent deal.

    As for the pickup cover, I don't plan on putting it on. I just wanted it so the bass is "complete" in that I have all the parts.

    There is a set of the correct 1970s tuners on Reverb, but I am NOT paying $425 for them. It is not that important to me, and I am assuming they got replaced on this bass for a reason, so these will stay.

    Thank you very much for the advice on strings!!
  6. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass. Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Well whatever it cost sometimes when you see one in the wild you just have buy it.
  7. JC BASS 91

    JC BASS 91

    Oct 22, 2021
    SW Missouri
    I wish I had only paid $2k. Still paid less than what comparable condition are selling on Reverb for. Just North of what a brand new 4003 sells for.

    No, I am using a TRS plug into the Ric-o-Sound jack that has two mono outputs that split the tip and sleeve signals. It seems to work, but I can't seat the plug all the way into the jack to get it to work, hence my question. Sorry, should have been more specific with my question.

    I normally keep parts I upgrade, I still have all the caps that came out of my Bassman 50.

    Yeah, the larger holes for the Dunlops was why I am shying away from that. I think I am just going to use the Fender rubber things.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  8. steve_ss

    steve_ss Shiny, let's be bad guys. Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2016
    Southern NJ, USA
    Congratulations on the 4001. Well done.

    I use two different flat strings on my 4003 Rics. Optima 4440.L RB Flats and Pyramid Chrome Nickle Flats 640/A. They should work with your 4001. If you don't replace the pick up cover (I removed mine) you can fill the hole with a Treble Bezel from here: Shop Treble Bezels — The Treble Bezel By TubeAmpology. They have them for some styles of 4001. Keep us posted.
  9. Nice bass!
    Grolsch also makes those washers and they come with a beer included:D
  10. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    A lot of people may have answered a lot of these questions but 2K is cheap for that, ok I see you paid new prices, that is still cheap and everyone takes the covers off, they get in the way when you play, but Rickenbacker probably has some, and contact cleaner won't hurt it, Stainless Rotosound Swing 66's sound great on those, If you put La Bellas on it make sure it's the .104 set or lighter. With Rotos, I use the 105 normal set on mine. This is important, if you need to tighten the truss rods, lay it on a table and have someone lightly push down on the end of the neck area, 1st fret etc. and you hold the body down on the other end and THEN tighten them and don't hold off until your done, may take a few times.
    4001's don't like heavy strings, medium gauge are ok except for La Bella, you don't want to put any high tension string on that. You may also want to check and see if the little cap is still in the bridge pickup circuit, if it is try bypassing it with a little piece of copper wire as it takes all the bottom out and they sound very different, some like it, most don't.
    I would hold on to anything I take off of it. Mutes used to be available from Rickenbacker, they sound pretty good actually, you can make it sound completely different if you have round wound strings on it. Yes they came with flats like almost all basses did until the late 70's. I bought a new 4001 in 1977 and it had flats on it, light gauge flats, I put regular Rotos on it. Rick-o-sound jack works with a stereo jack and cord and has two mono outputs, you may want to look into getting a Rick-o-Sound box although they're expensive now but they're a lot quieter than just using a stereo cord into two mono cords for some reason. I forgot the name of the original strings, Optima or something like that?
    In '74 that most likely came with reverse cloverleafs, they used them for most of that decade, earlier on they used Grovers and then would use them if they ran out of cloverleafs, I had a '72 with Grovers and have seen them as late as mid 80's but that wasn't their normal tuners, my '79 have reverse cloverleafs on it, I consider them to be one of the unique things about 4001's. You can probably grab some for a few hundred, I would $425.00 is a little high though.


    My '79

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
  11. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    Do NOT use contact cleaner in the pots unless you want to have to replace them. Only use Deoxit and use as little as possible.
  12. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Oh, I have a '67 silverface Bassman with the big cab but 2 12"s. Sounds great. You can even use a stereo cord, one pickup into each channel and use the deep switch for the neck and get your treble out of the other channel with the bridge pickup.
    AltGrendel, TN WOODMAN and JC BASS 91 like this.
  13. JC BASS 91

    JC BASS 91

    Oct 22, 2021
    SW Missouri
    That's what I have. :cool:
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  14. bylar13

    bylar13 Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2016
    Congrats! I have a 1974 4001 as well. Somethings to consider:

    1. String tension can be an issue with Ric's of this vintage. On mine I tried GHS Boomers, SIT Nickle Rounds,
    D'Adarrio Nickel rounds, and Rotosound Stainless Steel, all in 1.05-.45 gauges. All had more tension than the neck on my bass was able to withstand comfortably.

    I dropped down to Dunlop Super-brite Nickel rounds in 1.00-.40. They worked well.

    2. My bridge was lifting off of the body a good bit so I replaced it with the same style but more modern (2015) and stronger replacement. Looks the same, works the same, just a bit more strength than some of the old bridges.

    3. As a 74' your neck pick up is closer to the end of the neck but this means there is a little less wood to strengthen the neck. This was change by RIC in 1975, I think and moved back a full inch vs. the 74 which is only a 1/2 inch from the edge of the fret board.

    All this being said, there are plenty of Rics of this vintage using heavier strings with no issues. Its just something to be aware of. Enjoy!
    jamro217, bobyoung53 and JC BASS 91 like this.
  15. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    That's nice bass for a decent price.
    A friend of mine has the exact same bass (color, year) that he bought new in 1975. His sat in a closet for 30 years and he had a luthier get it back in shape for him. I played it over the holidays and it's nice. Good luck with it.
    The only recommendation I'd make is to get a bezel for the bridge pickup instead of a pickup cover.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  16. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    I had a '75 4001 with 1/2" spacing, but they're all different as you hinted at, some are weak, some are strong. When I got my '75 the neck had no relief at all I had to put a set of heavy gauge strings to even move it and it took a long time, I should have kept that one. I have 105 Rotos on my '79 now with no problems.
    I own three, none have covers and there's not a bezel in sight. :laugh:
    JC BASS 91 and bylar13 like this.
  17. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    Awesome bass!

    Do not use contact cleaner or regular Deoxit on pots. The best thing to do is just exercise them by rotating them back and forth a bunch of times to see if that fixes the issue.

    If it doesn't, Use something like Deoxit Fader Lube. That will leave a protective lubricant film in place that regular Deoxit contact cleaner would remove. Even then, the pot probably has a limited life.
  18. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Suspended Supporting Member

    Speaking as the owner (for 14+ years now) of both a '73 4001 and a 2001 Color-of the Year 4003, I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can...
    1. Yes, the cable you ask about will work; that's what I use on the rare occasions when I bother with Ric-O--Sound. I'll warn you, though; don't be surprised if it doesn't work. So few people ever use that jack - and it's wiring -, that it can give you problems if you try... Both of mine do work, but probably only because the feature actually gets used once in a while...
    2. Yes, by all means. But, as has been mentioned; with pots, try working the bejeezus out of them first. But, for things like jacks - and very stubborn pots and switches? With 26 basses, and 6 electric guitars - some just about as old as my 4001 - I have to clean pots and contacts with some frequency. I like Deoxit for that. It's fairly expensive, but this is what it's made for; a little goes a very long way; and it works a treat.
    3. Yeah, I'd hold on to them - why not? I put the "new" push/pull treble tone pot in both of mine, since the 4001 was "vintage" tone only (which, if it hasn't already been modified, yours is, too) and late 1990's - early 2000's 4003's were "modern" tone only. Nice to have the option, but... the original stuff is safely stored away.
    4. It's been a while since I looked, but... yes, you should be able to replace the mute material. The "Boutique" section of RIC's website has all the bits and bobs for Rick basses and guitars; I bought replacement mute rubber for both of mine there. It's actually "scrap" pieces of the squishy rubber that the guitar pickups sit on; as such, you'll have to trim it to fit. And, getting the mute to actually work correctly will require some tweaking. Which, unless you're going to use the thing, is probably not worth the bother. But, I do use mine - especially on the 4001; so, please yourself...
    5. My 4001 has the same knurled machine screws as the mute for strap pins; I'm not sure when RIC quit doing that, but it looks like that's what you have, too. When they did switch to real strap pins, they switched to Schallers - and have used them ever since. So, if you want "real" Rick strap pins? Schallers. Otherwise? Again; please yourself...
    - As for the strings in the case? Those look like D'Addario Chromes to me. In any case; Yes, Rick basses came from the factory with flats, until some time in the early '80s, IIRC; certainly after they replaced the 4001 with the 4003. The factory flats were German Maximas. Pretty low tension, and - IIRC - 42-100 gauge. You can replicate them very closely with a set of Optima 4440L RB ("Rickenbacker Bass") Flats. Optima bought Maxima years ago, and, since Germans are loathe to throw documents away? They had the original specs, and so they just... copied them. HOWEVER... from someone who knows;
    Rickenbacker basses with the neck pickup in that position on yours (and on my 4001), can suffer from a problem called Negative Neck Angle. Which is caused by that pickup sitting in a routed hole that's much bigger than it needs to be. And because it's located dead in the spot where the neck starts to turn into the center part of the body, it results in a very thin piece of wood holding it all together. Strings with tension that's much more than the original Maxima's can - eventually - cause that thin piece of wood to become a hinge. The neck will begin to fold upwards - like a drawbridge opening. How do I know? That's what the neck of my 4001 is beginning to do. IMO, it's this fun phenomenon - and not some fuss about the frets (although early round wounds really would sometimes eat the small, thin, soft frets on older Ricks) is why RIC didn't want owners to use other company's strings. Early rounds - which were mainly Rotosounds - were also higher tension than the Maximas; and just about all the other flats were, too. RIC "corrected" the problem in... 1978, I think, by moving the neck pickup to where it is today - and by routing a much smaller hole for it. So...
    if you want to put flats on that 4001? If you don't want to risk the neck, the Optima RBs; TI Jazz Flats; La Bella Low Tension Flexible Flats; or a set of their 760FX's (39-96) would be my choice. The first 3 are very popular on any Rick bass; judging by the performance of the 760FX's on one of my Danelectro DC59 Pros, they'd work very well on a 4001. Right now, I'm trying a set of Dogal GS90B CarbonSteel Flats on mine, as the tension - according to their packaging - is supposed to be stupid low. As of now? Jury's still out. I have a set of DTFF's and TIJF's in the wings if the Dogals don't make me happy. As for rounds? Again, low tension would be my choice - if I liked rounds. Which I most definitely do not. My Gretsch Broadkaster is the only bass I own with rounds. It's wearing a set of TI Jazz Rounds - which are pretty low tension - and are very flat-like in both tone and feel. So, I can live with those rounds...
    The tuners? IIRC, RIC dropped the "wavy" Grovers some time in 1974, but I don't know exactly when. Stuff like that is why knowing what month your Rick was made is nice to know (mine is an October baby). The serial # will tell you that. Mine has them, and they are all still in one piece (they tend to pop apart unexpectedly). RIC went to something else for a short time after the Wavy Grovers, before settling on the Schaller tuners that they've used ever since. Frankly? I wouldn't waste the money on a set of Wavy Grovers, unless I was obsessed with having the thing all original. which, with the modern treble pot in it, it isn't anyway... But, again; please yourself... Bottom line?
    Congrats on a nice 4001. Play the snot out of it - and enjoy it! :thumbsup::thumbsup:

    p.s. About the price; I'd say you got off pretty light. I'm a lefty; I bought my 4001 in... 2008 or '09; after RIC announced - in 2006 - that, due to a several year backlog of orders, they were halting production of all left handed models - and, were seriously considering never making them again. I'll leave the effect on the used lefty Rick market to your imagination. Suffice to say that I paid a lot more for my 4001 than you did... my 4003, too, for that matter...:whistle:
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
  19. I’ve had my ‘71 since the mid seventies. I’ve only used the mono output jack on my bass a handful of times. Mono….ugh…
  20. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    I had a 2000 COY See Green 4003.