1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Rick 4003 Experts needed

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KINGMUNSON, Dec 2, 2017.



    Dec 31, 2011
    Hi. Im looking at buying my first Rick. Ive narrowed it down to this one as its a finish I like
    and its close enough to me to meet the seller in person.

    Just wanting opinions if this is a good buy. I can get it for 1600 and drive an hour topps to get it.(one way). Also I was hoping to get a neck closer to the thickness of my Jazz bass and the seller says "its not as thick as a P bass" so thats non directly saying it has a thinner neck than alot of them.

    Also the Pickups are changed but come with original's. Any opinions on these pickups??

    Is an 84 a good year or should I get a newer one?

    1984 Rickenbacker 4003 bass
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  2. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000
  3. It's a little high but early 80's Rics are nice, the necks are thinner than later ones and the pickups are not wound as hot giving you a more classic sound, (I would definitely put the original pickups back in if you buy it and make sure the little cap is out of the bridge pickup circuit) those 4003's (split pickguard 80-84) are actually not real common anymore but you could probably get a brand new one for the same or cheaper money. That bass is a PITA to adjust the truss rods though, they are at the body end of the neck and you have to take that part of the pickguard off but they stay put once you get them adjusted, that's why they have two piece pick guards, 84 was the last year of those, 80-84.


    Dec 31, 2011
    If one wanted a thin but not too thin neck(how thin are we talking?) what newer one would I get. I want the most worry and trouble free option. I have far too many projects and vintage things in my life that need attention and restoration so I dont want anything thats gonna give me a headache. That being said I dont wanna sacrifice quality and tone. Generally new isnt as good as old but theres usually a midrange sweetspot.
    nixdad likes this.


    Dec 31, 2011
    The new ones from Wildwood Tempt me but how the hell can they sell them so cheap? Kinda give me the Gibson "guitar of the week" vibe where the quality might not be there due to selling in bulk to a big seller.
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    OP, PM me, and I will direct you to my favorite store which has a sweet, new 4003 for $1,465.
    nixdad, spaz21387, Axstar and 2 others like this.
  7. You will not find a current 4003 with a neck the feels anything like an early 4003 like this one. These are much thinner (front to back) than the current 4003, and in my opinion, nicer.

    I have an 85, and have yet to play a Rick I like more, and I have spent a lot of time with a lot of Ricks, as a friend/bandmate ran a second hand shop with a bunch, and later became a Rick dealer.

    Spot on about the neck and pickups.

    Split guards ran through 85 (mine is Sep 85). It's not that big of a deal taking the pickguard off to make the adjustment, no more really than the TRC.

    This bass would have come with the bridge tone cap (the stopped in 85). However, many people removed them themselves, and since the pickups we swapped, it increases the likelihood that the owner pulled the cap out too.

    I actually put one in mine, as I think it's more "Rick like" with it.

    I would buy an older Rick in a heartbeat over a new one. I don't like the current neck profile, old ones already have a ding or two, so that worry is gone, and frankly with the QC and finish issues in recent years, I wouldn't want the hassle. And warranty? Who wants to deal with that on something new? It should be right from the get go.

    I can't really speak to price with regard to other mid 80s ricks. But I'll say this, if I we're in the market, I'd buy this over a new one, easy choice fr me.


    Dec 31, 2011
    Seriously considering a 4003s. I dont care about the inlays plus my other main bass(70's RI hot rod Jazz) has Block inlays. And I dont care about the stereo Jacks as thats just more unnecessary wiring in the signal path. Also Binding
    isnt really a care of mine.
    nixdad, bobyoung53, SactoBass and 2 others like this.
  9. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    I have an '83 and a '15. Love them both but they have slightly different personalities. The '15 is definitely more aggressive with its hotter pickups. The '83 often feels more comfortable, but not always, and I can't really explain why, whether it's the bass or it's me. Part of the difference between the two can be attributed to different strings. I like stock Ric strings, and keep them on the '15, while the '83 wears sadly-discontinued D'Addario EXL Reds.

    Note that the split-pickup 4003 still has the older hairpin style truss rods, and you'd need to learn the proper way to adjust them (read Joey's Bass Notes page about Ric adjustments). That being said, they're not difficult, and tend to stay put; I've not had to touch mine since I first got it and adjusted it two and a half years ago. The '15, with its "normal" truss rods, requires occasional fiddling.

    The wavy Grover tuners have their fans (I like them), but have been known to explode. The problem is that the covers sometimes aren't staked down properly, come loose, and then everything, being under pressure from the string, comes flying out. Ric Resource Forum has some threads describing a way to drill and tap the covers for screws. Me, I just re-staked the posts with a small Phillips screwdriver.

    I made two small mods to my '83. Since mine still had the tone cap in the circuit that is often removed, I installed a Ric push-pull pot just like the newer 4003s have. Easy if you have rudimentary skills with a soldering iron. The other was to replace the original strap buttons with the Schaller-made straplocks that come on new Rics. It's a direct retrofit--they're both held in with integral 10-24 machine bolts. Ric charges list price and obscene shipping if you order direct, but my local Ric dealer ordered the parts for me and I got them at a discount off list, and no shipping since they order from Ric anyway.
    Happy Face, JMacBass65 and mikewalker like this.
  10. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    You can find brand new ones for not much more.
    alesreaper9 likes this.
  11. plav1959


    May 7, 2016
    Orlando, FL
    Actually if you’re thinking about a 4003S, you can get a new one more cheaply.
  12. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000
    I know several people who have bought through Wildwood, or Pic of the Rics, and are left knowing they purchased their instrument from a small brick and mortar who actually care about their instruments and customers. I think the real question to ask, instead of why are they selling them for such a low cost, is why are other places selling them with such an incredibly high markup.
    bobyoung53 and Korladis like this.
  13. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    You can sell the spare pickups (either the Bardens or the higains) for at least $100 so that moderates the ask a little. I'd have thought fair value was around $1,300 to $1,400, so it's not grossly expensive, but not a bargain by any means. The neck profile of the 4003 from this period was generally slender, but there is some variation. A new 4003 or 4003S will be more consistent with respect to QC and neck profile, will have a warranty, and may save you some cash. The only downside is the muddier modern hi-gains.
  14. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Yeah, it seems like the big production backlog of a few years ago has eased off a little, no reason to pay list price on a Ric. I had a 79’ Ric with the thinnest neck I’ve ever seen on a 4001, before or since, but it wasn’t particularly stable, so it’s a trade off. The new ones feel like a chunky P bass neck to me, so mid 80’s might be a decent trade off. Unfortunately it’s hard to generalize on older basses. Pre CNC they were essentially hand made basses, with the touch of whoever sanded it determining exact neck thickness, plus, it’s wood, so inherently inconsistent. I tend to like the bling of bound 4003 models, but the walnut S models are growing on me, also reportedly a bit lighter weight.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
    foolforthecity likes this.
  15. bassstrangler


    Mar 2, 2015
    Going to Wildwood for $1329 definitely seems like a no-brainer.
  16. FWFW I have not touched the truss rods on my super slender 85 in over three years.
  17. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    First, as much as I love Rics $1600 is too much. I'd be looking more at $1200 or $1300. I particularly like the 4001s and early 4003s. I have an '81 that I bought for $1100 about three years ago. Second, the new Rics that I've tried have much bigger necks than my '81. A Ric is definitely a try before you buy bass.
    Happy Face and ajkula66 like this.
  18. Hounddog409


    Oct 27, 2015

    Even in better than new condition, that is overpriced. By a lot. You can get a new on for that.

    My 4003s was under 1400 out the door in 2016. The 4003 could have been bought for under 1700.

    And it has been modified. Who know if this yinyang knew what he was doing or what.

    Easy pass on that
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Why spend $1600 on a used Rick when you can buy a new 4003s for $1400?

    The pickups are Joe Barden humbuckers ... they sound almost as good as the originals.

    That bass has the grover tuners, Grovers are notorious for falling apart. That bass also has the old style truss rods that can damage the neck if adjusted improperly.

    Also The first generation of the Rickenbacker 4003 basses 1980 to 1985 are the least collectable and have the poorest resale value.

    So I say pass and buy a brand new 4003s or 4003sw.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
    smtp4me and alesreaper9 like this.
  20. MrMoonlight

    MrMoonlight Bottom feeder

    Sep 2, 2008
    I read the original ad you linked to. If you read closely, it says the original pickups were replaced with Joe Barden pickups. Nothing against Bardens or anything, but if I'm gonna thrown down that much scratch for a 30+ year old Rick, it darn well better be all original...which this one isn't.

    I'd wouldn't bother with it. I think it's way overpriced for what it is. And God only knows what those pickups sound like. Get yourself a nice new 4003 or 4003S for less money. At least you know a new one will sound like how a Rickenbacker is supposed to sound.
    smtp4me likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.