Repair or sell an older Rickenbacker?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by the federalist, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. the federalist

    the federalist I think about basses a lot. Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2014
    The specific bass in question is a 1976 Rickenbacker 4001. Cosmetically very nice. Sounds right. Only non-original parts are the tuners, but they appear to be decades old as well and look fine.

    Tom Brantley rewound the neck pickup. The rewind and installation cost less than $140, so not too bad. That's all I have into it so far.

    Changed strings, and now have some buzz that I can't shake. Replaced the stripped bridge set screws so I could adjust bridge height. (Cost: $0.32) This helped some.

    Also need to build up or replace the nut. A Rickenbacker nut costs $6.00, and the installation is another $120.

    The big thing is that the frets need to be replaced, which costs $325. They're too far gone to recrown. The luthier says this likely will do the trick, but there's no guarantee. Neck and truss rods are fine.

    In summary, I'm looking at another $445.

    I have no illusions about the expense associated with the maintenance and repair of Rickenbackers, and of older instruments in general. Every bass that's played eventually will need a refret.

    I like the bass quite a bit, but not more than others I have.

    Here's my questions:
    • Would I be better off (1) avoiding the expense of the repairs and selling as is (with full disclosure of the issues), or (2) getting the repairs done and enjoying the bass?
    • Does a refret increase or decrease the value of a 40 year old bass?
    • Assume the value of a 1976 Rickenbacker in good condition is a somewhat arbitrary $1,500. Would the value "as is" be $1,055 ($1,500 - $445) or more? Would the proverbial "someone" be willing to pay more than $1,500 after the refret and nut replacement?

    Thanks for your comments!
  2. I might take a chance on that for $1,000........

  3. the federalist

    the federalist I think about basses a lot. Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2014
    I wasn't posting an offer to sell, but rather am soliciting opinions on an issue that others likely have grappled with.

    Should I decide to sell, I'd post in the classifieds.
  4. makaspar

    makaspar Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Austin, TX
    I don't believe that replaced frets generally hurt value too much, as long as they're the same size, and the luthier does a good job. I'd think that the tuners would be a bigger hit to value. It seems like I've seen Rickenbacker shells (no hardware/electronics) go for around $7-900 on eBay, so I'm sure someone would jump on that deal..

    That being said, if it were me, I'd fix it.... Then play it, and possibly sell it when I find something else that I like.
  5. You could save a bit on the nut if you do it yourself. Get some nut files for about 50.00. Plenty of sites explain how to do it. It's easy to remove and replace, it's just filing slots can be tricky but not that difficult. How much do you have into the bass? Have you owned it awhile, or did you get it for a good price? I don't believe a refret will take away from the value, but it probably wouldn't increase by 300.00 either. Do you like the bass? Is it something you really want to play? Also I have filed a nut a bit too deep and put a shim under it. I used a piece of business card coated in wood glue, others use veneer. May need to shim it a few thousandths unless it looks worn out or broke.
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?

    I wouldn't pay $1500 for a 76 when I can get a brand new one for $1400.
    Peacefrog35 likes this.
  7. Understood, was just throwing it out there.
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    If you need a new nut I have about 10 of them ...
  9. Searay


    May 20, 2012
    I was faced with the same decision. My '76, great condition, replaced bridge pu, needed neck work. I decided to sell my 4001, got a great price, went and got a brand new 4003 and pocketed some profit. Do I miss the old one? Well, yes, some regrets, I must be truthful, but sometimes you just have to move on. I decided to let the collectors collect and players play. I have a real nice, new player, with a warranty. Of course the warranty is up in three days.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015

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