Questions about Rickenbackers

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nellsalot, Nov 4, 2004.

  1. Hi all, I'm a bassist/guitarist/drummer and I've been playing an old '67 Kalamazoo bass that's really pretty dinky and I definitely need an upgrade. Chris Squire being my favorite bassist with my favorite tone, I've always known a Rickenbacker would be my ideal. "Siberian Khatru" just doesn't sound the same without it. I'm wondering about the 4003 vs. 4001 thing - is there any difference between them besides the fact that the 4003 can deal with all kinds of strings and has the stereo sound (assuming I am correctly informed)? I played a 4003 in a store and it was an amazing bass with perfectly balanced, gorgeous tone. I played a vintage 4001 soon after and while that particular bass wasn't as good all-around, but it's tone was somewhat more nice and "growly" in the classic Ric way. Is this just the individual basses, my imagination or a difference in the construction? Because I love that really growly sound.

    To put my question in a nutshell, should I:
    A) Get a new 4003
    B) Get an old 4003
    C) Try to find a recent 4001v63 (what's up with these?)
    D) Get an old 4001

    Obviously it depends on an instrument to instrument case, but if anyone could tell me info on the differences between the above choices it would be extremely helpful. I've been leaning towards an old 4001 because that may be the cheapest of my options. Money is definitely an issue as I am an unemployed student, but I am willing to wait to save up the money IF it means the difference between "okay" and "great". I am hoping to purchase my ultimate Rickenbacker.

    Another question - I've heard Rics are heavy, does anyone know the exact typical weight? This sucks because I am small and weak, I was hoping it's not TOO heavy. Maybe I'll just play it sitting down :-\

    Another quick question! Does it change the tone to remove the pickup cover and leave the pickups exposed?

    And ANOTHER quick question. I've heard complaints that a Ric is not the most playable bass and isn't very "user-friendly". What is the reason for this? When I tried it out in the store it didn't seem especially difficult for me to play it and my Kalamazoo is weird because it has a small scale for smaller hands (I am a 5'1" girl, after all).

    Sorry if this post is long, but I wanted as specific answers as possible. If anyone can enlighten me it would be wonderful!

    Rock on,

    ONE MORE QUESTION! I've heard that the necks are the most breakable part, are there specific signs of trouble I should look for there when checking out used basses?
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    If you like the Squire tone i THINK you should get a 4001. They have the more trebly Rick tone and IMO can get a Squire-like tone more easily. I myself prefer the 4003 becasue it is bassier and i like the neck better, but they are different basses.
  3. bass_man86


    Apr 29, 2002
    Virginia Beach
    Wow, you have many questions. I have owned a 1974 4001 since 1982 now. It's a great bass, period. I used to play mainly with a pick, these days I use my fingers; it sounds great either way. The neck is incredebly fast, but the bass is beastly heavy. None the less, it's a great bass and I would not trade it in for anything. I hope this helps. ;)
  4. If you want to achieve the Squire sound best you can...i would suggest a 4001.
    However dont rule out the 4003 (new or old)
    These would be your cheapest options as well.

    The 4001 and earlier 4003's necks were slightly slimmer...and the 4001 used to have a cap in the pickups which some people say "silenced" them. The cap can be bypassed by a quick soldering job that you can get a tech to do for you...there are schematics all over the web depicting how to do this.

    Other than that...other than a few minor cosmetic differences (over the years the headstocks slightly changed from time to time for example) there isnt much different between the 2.

    A typical Ric weighs about 9lbs. If you find it heavy..try a big thick strap.

    Taking off the pickup cover wont affect the sound at all.

    The Ric isnt for everyone...its an interesting not sure why some people say they find them harder to play than others...some people pick them up right away...some people never get used to him.
    If you find it may want to just try to spend more time with one to get used to it or perhaps adjust/change your technique?

    The necks on the older 4001's were the weakest link...when your checking out 4001's inspect it carefully by looking down the neck and checking it for warps or bends in the neck. Making sure everything is straight as an arrow.

    I dont know where you live..but there are several places you can buy new 4003's in the USA for anywhere between $985 to about $1050.
    Good luck...hope to see another person in the Ric club :D

    PS, did i forget anything?
  5. Thank you all so much, that is great. Anyone else please add their two cents as I'd like to get a variety of opinions, meanwhile I will definitely keep above comments in mind.

    Oh, btw, the 4001v63? Is this just a reproduction of the old 4001 or...? Not that I'd probably be able to find one, they seem rare and expensive.
  6. Anti_Wish


    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    i suggest the 4001. ive played the 4003s and have not been impressed. my 4001 is the best bass ever! it does weigh about 10 pounds but it sounds so good, plus compared to JT's like 20 pound conklin's, its not bad at all. the arm rest/guard thing doesnt affect the sound at all. it just leaves a fat gap in the bass that i think is pretty nifty as a thumbrest :smug: whouda thunk it?

    the 4001v63 is a remake of Paul mccartney's rickenbacker. i havent played one but for probably half the price of that i could get an old 4001! so check ebay and all that jazz.
  7. Anti_Wish


    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    forgot to add that most people find them hard to slap because of the neck pickup placement. but it gets easier with time and i dont even notice it now. but all in all these basses are killer!
  8. Ralphdaddy

    Ralphdaddy Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Chicago, Illinois
    Weren't the 4001's also originally designed for flats and the 4003 was designed to use rounds because the rounds would often put undue pressure on the 4001 necks? I believe someone on TB told me that a month or so ago when I was trying to hunt down a Rick... they're so cool. If only I could get a 5 string version of the 4003, they're too rare!

  9. Yup..tis true...straight from John Halls mouth.
    Not all 4001's would suffer a bad fate..just some did/would.

    I know where there is a 4003/s5 for sale right now in Jetglo.

    I believe its the first one on the right. Mike also told me it was in really excellent condition...i inquired about it a couple weeks ago.
    If you decide to go for it Mike Parks is an A+ guy to deal with.
  10. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I own a '76 4001. Before I swapped it's stock pickups (to Duncans then to Barts) I felt I could get a tone slightly similar to Geddy Lee's. (I don't play well enough with a pick to be able to execute Squire's advanced picking technique. My pick playing is limited to AC/DC's Cliff Williams-ish eighth note 'chugging'.) Also IMO a major component to Chris's sound is his amp, but that's a long and well debated issue.

    Anyway, I tried out many a 4003 in the late 70's/early 80's. I truly couldn't find any differences sound or feel-wise. IMO either the 4001 or 4003 would do a fine job coupled with some effects and a nice tube amp that has a subtle, fuzzy overdrive, yet is still relatively clean in the lower frequencies..

    IMO a Rick is very comfortable to play; Especially when you get the string action nice and low. It's scale length is ever so slightly smaller(33 & 1/3 I think) than most 'standard' long scale 4-strings., I really like how easy they play. YMMV.

  11. davepack

    davepack Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Although RICs are a little heavy...I wouldn't worry too much about the weight. Geddy is a little man too and he handled a RIC (and an even heavier Wal) for years!
  12. Walbassman


    Nov 27, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    I currently have 5 Ricks: a 4000, 3-4001's and an early 4003. I can tell you that each of them are different and they all have their own sounds. I use each one for a different musical styling. the 4001 is great for getting the Squire/Lee sounds when coupled with the correct amp. go to, there are some cool soundclips there. go to to see a list of Geddy's gear through the years along with pictures.
    Soundwise, my early 4003 will get the Squire sound totally and this is because I changed out the front pickup and put in a new toaster.

    B'Aces High, I have a bass for you my friend...

  13. You get the Union Jack Ric done? :cool:
  14. apollo11


    Aug 19, 2004
    New York
    I've got a 4003, 2003 model. When you first play it, you'll find the neck to be a little thick, front to back, and the neck doesn't taper over its length like most basses. It may feel awkward at first, but in no time (an hour or two) it becomes totally natural to play. The sound and clarity is simply outstanding. The notes up high are so distinctively clear, I haven't heard another bass come close. Down low, the clarity is fantastic, too. It has been said, I know, but it has a piano-like tone and clarity. In the bass world, the Ric has a sound all its own. Amazing.

    I have never played a 4001 with the thinner neck and can't comment on them.
  15. Walbassman


    Nov 27, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    Almost, I am trying to get progress pictures happening...Do you hit the Rick forum??
  16. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    "And ANOTHER quick question. I've heard complaints that a Ric is not the most playable bass and isn't very "user-friendly". What is the reason for this? When I tried it out in the store it didn't seem especially difficult for me to play it and my Kalamazoo is weird because it has a small scale for smaller hands (I am a 5'1" girl, after all)."

    Wow...I've always heard and have 1st hand experience contradictory to this. The are some of the easiest to play basses made IMO. Scale is slightly smaller 33.25" as opposed to 34". Necks virtually play themselves.
    Nell, if you get one you'll love it I'm sure. Incredible basses....incredible tone.
    My .02cents
  17. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Yes i agree, i didnt find them to be diffucult to play at all, i really like them.
  18. justBrian


    Apr 19, 2002
    Kansas City, MO
    Go over to and look for Clatter. She plays a Ric and is incredible!
  19. Ralphdaddy

    Ralphdaddy Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Chicago, Illinois
    Man... I'd like to pick up that 5er B'Aces, but I'm savin for Christmas and a vintage SVT right now... and a condo... and a ring... and a new car... and food... and rent... and man who knows what else!!! Sucks when reality hits!
  20. Walbassman


    Nov 27, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    that 5'er is pretty cool. I saw one recently that is all black except the fingerboard....looked like a shadow bass w/5 strings.