New Ric or vintage?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dejm1, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. dejm1


    Jun 3, 2006
    I'm in the market for a Rickenbacker bass - used to play them for years when I was young but then switched over to Fender - but now I'd like to get another one.

    In general, do you think it's better to buy a new guitar or vintage? There are plenty of nice 70's and 80's models out there so just debating what is best. I don't know if Ric quality has gone down the tubes and will look into that. But vintage could have its own set of issues.

    I haven't made a "big ticket" musical purchase in a while and wanna make the right choice! Thanks.
  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    General consensus is that the new ones are better made. I say it depends on the individual bass. My main bass is a 74' 4001. Neck is perfect. Play it before you buy it and decide for yourself, but I think unless it is a valuable vintage bass you are probably better off getting a newer one, if the price is right.
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    I would probably get a new one, for some strange reason used rics almost always sell for more than new ones. If your a yankee you can get a new ric for $1510 shipped, can't remember the website I want to say picoftherics but I think it is another retailer.
  4. sloppy_phil


    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    I believe it is Wildwood Guitars which is selling them for that price.

    Regarding new v. used, if I had to do it again, I'd probably buy new. I have an '84 4003 which I love to death and is incredible, but if it weren't for the fact that my neighbour is a mechanical engineer, I probably would have been out a LOT of money to fix the truss rods when they snapped (during a very simple and properly done adjustment). The new basses are incredibly highly touted, although I haven't actually played one myself. I have seen and heard them in person, and can say they sound great. They have both the 'vintage' and 'modern' circuits in them, so you really do get the best of both worlds.
  5. dejm1


    Jun 3, 2006
    Thanks for the quick replies! That does seem to be the consensus from the couple people I have asked, so good to hear again.... I was going to use musician's friend but I will look around. I like that I can maybe get financing with Musician's Friend and pay it off over a year and a half or so, hah! If anyone does know a specific place to get a good deal would love to hear it. Now just to choose a color... Thanks!
  6. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I know of at least 2 guys who will make vintage Ric truss rods. One works for Ric and the other one used to. $50 a set last time I checked. I never had any problems with mine and I suspect that people who break them are not adjusting them manually, which you HAVE to do on the 4001s and which is, at a minimum, helpful to do on a 4003.
  7. dejm1


    Jun 3, 2006
    Thanks, will check out Wildwood. Yeah, I had an 80's Ric and had serious truss rod issues but this was back in the 80's and I was a teenager....
  8. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    The new 4003s are at least as good as a good vintage bass, often better.

    Mostly it depends on what features you really GAS for whether an older player bass will suit you, but if you go with a new one and buy from a dealer such as Wildwood or Pick of the Ricks, talk to them and they'll set it up the way you want and do an overall inspection before they ship.

    It's a guaranteed good experience, and a new bass won't have any issues from previous owners.
    I have three Ricks ranging from 1976 to 1981 and a 2010 4003, and the 4003 is my main player now.
    Great bass, and you won't believe how easily the rods adjust compared to older style rods.
  9. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Depends on the budget. I would love to pick up a rare old collectible in museum condition.
  10. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    You'll generally pay big money, though not nearly as much as 1960s Fenders are priced at (even though I don't think they sell very often at those ridiculous prices).
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    IME, The new Ric's will only be abundant for a short while. Usually after that they sell for more and are harder to find. In '09 I was buying them new and reselling them for $200 profit but it seems like Ric ramped up production. That's just been my experience with them So I would say now the time to get a brand new one. GLWP
  12. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    If you can find a nice old one for a good price , grab it , but the new one's are cheaper , and are beautifully made .
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I will keep collecting until I have 40 basses
  14. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Get the cheapest one that's in good condition.

    Rickenbacker is unusual among guitar makers in that they have been making the 400* in virtually the same form for, what, 50 years now. So you're going to get roughly the same quality overall no matter how old or new it is.

    The only really big change has been in the neck with the 4003. They went to a significantly stronger truss rod system over the 4001 which basically ended any worries about too much string tension and/or having to use really unusual care when adjusting the relief. The 4003 neck is a little fatter because of that.
    There've been mild changes elsewhere in the woodworking but otherwise it's still pretty much the same bass.

    Also keep in mind that buying new will always depreciate (if resale is a concern).

    Finally, tonally they're going to vary quite a bit less than, say, the Fenders. Rick's quality and consistency was always far higher than FMIC's was, so you can generally count on a pretty consistent similarity in the tone between instruments. So it's not such a big deal whether you get a 80's model, say, or a brand new one.

  15. I have two 1970s 4001 models and two 4003s, one of them fairly new, and they're all pretty similar in (high) quality. I understand there have been some improvements in the 4003s, but the old ones are pretty great, too. As unclejane said, they've been very consistent.
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    I have one of each, why choose only one?
  17. woodyng


    Dec 19, 2007
    Oregon coast
    I enjoy all of my trio( a'74,and 2 '04's) but prefer the newer ones overall,and probably for reasons that run opposite to what most folks want from Ric basses. I sampled 3 brand new ones recently, a 4003 and 2 Cii's,and really loved them!
  18. ev rodriguez

    ev rodriguez

    Jan 18, 2010
    I have a 1973 4001 and 2 p basses, as well as a 1968 tele bass and a 74 j bass. I think the Ric has significantly more tonal variations than the Fenders, and takes more work to get the sound right. When you do get the sound right though, it is amazing. The J bass is the next in terms of tonal flexibility. I have had the Ric rehabbed back to stock recently (Ric was terrific in helping me get the legacy electronic parts) and am really enjoying playing it again.
  19. I bought a '79 4001 but if I was to buy another I'd get a new or recent used one due to the few improvements. Improved truss rods, hotter pickups. Also if you look hard enough you can probably find a 4003 with a little thinner neck profile.

    Don't count out the 4004 basses, lots of old school Ric guys love 'em.
  20. sgiacomo


    Feb 26, 2012
    I just went through this very decision over the last few months. I played a late 70s and early 80s 4001, both sounded great and I couldn't find a new one to try to compare tones. A few weeks ago I called MF to price a 2012 Ruby Red for cost comparison purposes and ended up buying one with a discount of 15% off using the code from a mail order catalog. That discount ended up putting the price at about the same as many used and less than anybody new online. You can't do that online, has to be a phone call. Quality is top notch on mine, not a single flaw and setup was good. I was nervous with this being the first bass I ever bought without playing first, but couldn't be happier with my experience. Good luck!

    Just saw the $1510 price on a previous post, I paid $1700 after the discount. Dang! :meh: Oh well, still love mine.

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