New vs. Vintage Rickenbacker 4003?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by midnight, Feb 27, 2002.

  1. Now I don't know if a 1982 4003 is considered Vintage, but I'll assume it is for the purpose of this question. I'm pretty sure my next bass will be a Rickenbacker 4003. I've looked at the specs and prices for new, but now I've got my eye on some used ones also. One is a fairly mint early 80's model. The first question I have is how well do these basses age? Was the technology/design different a couple decades ago? If I can find a mint condition example, for a few hundred dollars less than new even, is it a reasonable assumption that it will play as good as a new one? I would be interested in hearing from those that have had their 4003 for many years on how they've aged as well as any of you out there that have played a used one next to a new one.

    TIA... this forum is awesome!

  2. Funkster


    Apr 6, 2000
    Wormtown, MA
    I own a 84 Jetglo 4003 and it is just as good if not better playing and sounding than my buddy's V63 Reissue!
    I think that you can get a way better price with buying a used one than a brand new one.
    Ex. I paid 699.99 for my mint 82 and my buddy paid 1399.99 for his V63! Just about half price for a mint used one. I can put up with a few dents and dings for the savings.
    Rickenbacker is one guitar maker that has been pretty consistant with there quality over the decades!
  3. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    I think the V63 is always going to cost (and be worth) more because it is a special vintage re-issue model. If I were you, I would buy a 4003 made after 1987 because that is when RIC took out the so-called "third capacitor" and returned the neck pickup to full strength. Result is big bottom end. You can go pre 87 but may have to do the "by-pass" surgery. You should review the 300+ thread in here on Rickenbackers for a full discussion. The build quality in RICS has not diminished over the years at all, in my opinion.
  4. Funkster


    Apr 6, 2000
    Wormtown, MA

    I hear ya Max the V63 is a vintage RI so you can't compare but that has been the only newer Ric I have played side by side with mine!
    A brand new 4003 out the door at GC is still $999 not including case, Extra $139.99, I could never understand that.
    Don't be afraid of that Bypass surgery on the older models I was the first guinee pig and had it done in about a 1/2 hour and the results are fantastic.
    Good luck!
  5. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Aurillac, France
    Unfortunately, a very recent experienced showed me that RIC quality is not that perfect.

    Being a long time Rickenbacker user (4001's), I purchased in last July a 4003 as new. In fact, this bass was already 2 years old when I purchased it, because its S/N reveals it has been built in July 1999. But I bought it as new, via a dealer, from the stocks of the official distributor's warehouse.

    Without any apparent reason, the neck of my 4003 has recently curved, and my luthier had to give very heavy tension to the truss rod to have the neck getting straight again. But now the nameplate on the headstock cannot be perfectly screwed because of the tension of the truss rod, which is now curved.

    Apparently, it seems my bass is defective from the start. I always mounted the same strings gauge, always kept my bass in normal conditions (temperature, etc.), and it always "slept" in its hardshell case while I was not playing.

    I lost all trust in my bass, and I am going to get rid of it. I am really disappointed, and so my next bass shall not be a Rickenbacker.