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Ric 4003 bridge

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pbass4003, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Pbass4003


    Dec 1, 2012
    Queens, NY
    I have been loitering in the dozens of Ric threads the last 8-12 months. I found a lot of information that helped me make an informed decision before taking the plunge on my new Mapleglo that will be arriving at my office tomorrow(!). After playing new and vintage Rics in all colors at 4 different shops on both sides of the US, I think I'm set (and very excited if you can't tell!)

    The only thing I can't figure out is what to do with the bridge. I like Hipshot hardware and I like to palm mute, but I would also would like not to spend another $100+ on a bridge if I don't have to! So, the reason behind this specific post is twofold:

    1. Upon getting the Ric, I am getting her a pro setup in one of the only Ric authorized service centers in NY, so I want to make sure I'm happy with a bridge before paying someone to "set it and forget it."
    2. I can't get much concrete information about the versatility of the stock bridge (just a lot of polarized opinions).
    -Can I remove the mute assembly screws and still do an effective palm mute? (For the record, I will also be removing the p'up cover)
    -What are the REAL pros and cons? I read about the whole tail-lift thing, but if I'm installing TI Jazz Flats, is that even an issue which such low-tension strings?
    -How difficult is it to manipulate the mute assembly to mute/unmute the strings between songs? What is the current consensus about the mute feature?

    Wow—I guess I had more questions than I thought! Hopefully this thread will fill in the gaps of the Talkbass Ric lexicon... or at the very least help a new Ric owner not pwn his beautiful new bass.

  2. Everyone in the world except me hates the Ric bridge. I think it's neat and looks cool to boot. Did not experience tail lift on my '79 4001, maybe I was just lucky.

    I wasn't palm muting back when I had it, so can't comment on the ease of that. Adjusting the mute pad is pretty quick once you get a feel for it, it's just 2 thumbscrews. Can take a while to get to where you can quickly dial in your preferred level of mute though, unless your level is "all the way."

    The screws aren't really in the way of anything IIRC so I don't know you'd need to remove them to not use the mute.. just don't raise the pad and you won't be using it. If you do want to remove the pad, the bridge has to come off for the procedure. I liked the mute feature, so I'm fairly confident all of Talkbass hates it.

    At this point you will probably not be surprised to learn that I left the pickup cover on, I liked it.
  3. RFord04

    RFord04 Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    Personally, I think the stock bridge mutes are pretty useless. You can use them if you like them, but they take a few seconds to adjust, and I've never really cared for foam mutes on strings myself. Even without the foam mute there, you still won't be able to palm mute effectively... at least not without throwing the intonation off horribly, as your hand will be way too far from where the strings contact the bridge.

    As for tail lift, some people encounter it and some people don't. I'm not sure if lower tension strings would completely prevent it. With the hipshot, it will never be an issue. The pros of the Hipshot bridge are that it allows for palm muting, it is much easier to adjust (you might not need to make adjustments anytime soon, as you're having it setup now, but you never know when you may have to make a few slight adjustments yourself, down the road.) both string heights (you can adjust heights individually, whereas on the stock ric bridge, you can only adjust the one side or the other of the entire saddle assembly, i think) and intonation, and it is a higher mass bridge, which some folks believe increases sustain.

    I can't say I noticed a huge increase in sustain, but I did think it made a little difference. As for the ability to make adjustments easily and to palm mute, those things made that $100 purchase worth it to me. I guess the way I see it, if you're going to spend $1500 on a bass, $100 isn't all that much to make it easier to play (for me), although purists will most likely prefer the look of the stock bridge. I like the look, but I hated everything else about it. If you're used to other, more traditional style basses, you should definitely consider the Hipshot.
  4. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I agree with everything you said. I play around with the Mutes and you can get some great results with them if that's your thing.
  5. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I am in the same camp, but they are a PITA to adjust intonation....once you get it thought, you are done...
  6. The stock bridge is fine. Issues get magnified on the internet, including Talkbass. I've never found a use for the muting feature, and I can palm mute my stock Ric with no problems. I don't mute right over the bridge anyway.

    Just remember to keep an open mind. It's quite a different animal than a Fender. Give the "Ric" way of doing things a chance before pronouncing judgement ;) I own Fenders, Lakland, Gibsons, etc. and LOVE my Ric 4003.

  7. Probaby not a lot of help but I have the mutes all the way down on my 4003, 4001CS and '72 4001 and just use my hand as needed. I've never experienced the tail lift thing so have no comment on that; I use .045 - .105 round wounds on all my Ricks (RotoSounds or DR High Beams). The stock bridge is fine once dialed in, the biggest pain is setting intonation and there've been lots of how to's written on approaches to doing that. Joey over at RRF has some information online you might find useful.

  8. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    I would mess with using a dishwashing sponge under the strings. Worked better than the Ric mute. Costs about 50 cents.
  9. willsellout

    willsellout Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Key West, FL
    The bridge is horrible. On the plus side, once you get it set up and intonated you don't need to do anything to it....unless you change the type of strings you put on it, and then you have to do it all over again.

    Ric's are difficult and finicky instruments to work on and adjust. It's just part of the game. But they sound and play wonderful and look fantastic. They have their flaws just like many basses. Of course if you are going to pay someone to do the work, it's not an issue.
  10. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I don't mind the tailpiece too much. One trick you can do to make intonation adjustments easier is to remove the saddles, turn the bridge 180 degrees and reinstall the screws so the heads are on the neck side of the bridge.
  11. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Like these other guys have said, the bridge is really only a pain when you have to intonate. I tried to use the mute on a few of our songs but it just took too long to get it to where I want it so I dont use it. I palm mute and dont have any issues but its not as easy as on other basses. I was going to get the Hipshot bridge on my FireGlo but there has been no need. Oh and no tail lift either.
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    From time to time I convert 4 strings Ricks into 5 strings. To do that conversion I have to remove some metal. That same metal can be removed from a 4 string tailpiece. Once that is removed palm muting is easy.



    Some tailpieces will have tail lift. The newer tailpiece used the last 10 years or so is stronger and resists lift better. 2 extra screws will always fix the lift problem. See pics above.

    The Rickenbacker mechanical mute is cumbersome. pretty much nobody uses it. I have played Ricks since 1973 and I have never had a use for the mechanical mute.
  13. Pbass4003


    Dec 1, 2012
    Queens, NY
    I got my bass $1600 shipped (from Zzounds) and like to think I got a good deal... that said, I'm happily paying someone to do the setup. After reading these testimonials about intonation setup, I'm glad I made that decision! In summary, here's what I gather so far:

    -the modern tailpiece is structurally sound (at least enough to get by), but the mute feature is antiquated and cumbersome.
    -palm muting is possible but difficult with the stock bridge

    But what about the HS bridge? Setup ease aside, does it seriously improve playability?


    PS - sweet bass, Ric5!
  14. I can see how the treble pickup cover could get in the way of palm muting, but the bridge? :confused: Maybe I've been doing it wrong all these years, but I never palm mute over the bridge. Not even sure why someone would want that position in the first place. Sounds inefficient.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    The bridge is the only place to palm mute.

    But with a stock Rickenbacker palm muting is next to impossible and the mechanical mute is a joke.

    Also that is why I like the 4004 basses. They have a modern bridge.
  16. jj4001


    Dec 27, 2010
    Providence, RI
    The mute on my '86 4003 messes up the intonation. I want to use it so bad since the quick decay would be great with some of my band's tunes. Very frustrating.

    Anyone use the mutes without this problem? Is replacing the foam worthwhile?
  17. I palm mute wherever my right hand is at the time. It's been working for me anyway since the '70s.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Mechanical mutes will make your notes go sharp.

    That is why I do not play 4001/4003 Ricks with an unmodified stock bridge. It takes away palm muting which is important to my playing.
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Palm muting should be done at the bridge.
  20. Not sure why that would be. Only half of your palm would be muting the string, the other half on the "dead" part of the string below the bridge. Sounds inefficient, and with less control.

    Here's a little piece I'm working on that has parts of the bass being palm muted wherever. Maybe I'm fooling myself but I thought it worked fine.

    You have to wait for the little player to pop up -

    A New Fusion