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Rick dilemma

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Actumen, May 4, 2010.

  1. Actumen


    Sep 5, 2006
    Albany, NY
    Hullo Talk Bass - Long time reader, first timer caller...

    I'm graduating from high school this coming June and as a graduation present my parents went in on a '76 Rickenbacker 4001 that we found locally for a pretty decent price. They gave it to me early so that I could use it in a couple end-of-the-year performances, show it off, make sure we're a match, etc.

    So far I love it, I love the way it sounds, I love the way it feels for the most part, etc... But for a bass player, I have really, really small hands. Previously I was playing a MIM fender jazz bass which has a significantly thinner neck with frets that (at least to me) seem to bit a little bit less far apart. After playing the Rick for periods of time usually frowned upon in music shops I've noticed that it creates a huge amount of strain in my left hand and wrist, even after playing for only 20-30 minutes.

    As of right now the wrist problem is enough to make me question whether the Rick is necessarily the bass for me - so I come to ye knowledgeable bassists asking... Is this just my hand adjusting to a new bass, and something that will maybe go away eventually? Is there anything I can do on my part to help make things easier on my hands, maybe?

    If the bass continues to destroy my wrist, I may opt to try trading it for an older Fender Jazz or something... I don't know. Any suggestions?
  2. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    4003 debuted in 1980.
  3. Actumen


    Sep 5, 2006
    Albany, NY
    Er, 4001. Typo. My bad.
  4. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    Hi and welcome. :)

    This really isn't an easy one to answer without seeing your technique. A couple of things though-
    * The frets on a Rick are actually closer together than on a Fender. Rick scale length is 33.25" and Fender is 34".
    * The neck profile and width is certainly different.....the Jazz bass being narrower.
    * With that being said though, even with small hands, it shouldn't ....I say shouldn't pose a problem. I've seen people with small hands playing 6 string basses.
    * When you play, is your left hand relaxed? Also, where is your thumb? Is it in the middle of the back of the neck or are your "gripping" the neck?

    Any additional info you can give would be of help.

    All the best.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Your pain is probably a flaw in your technique.

    I have a bad habit of wraping my left thumb around the neck. Most of the time it is not a problem. But on some songs it causes me pain then I have to place my thumb on the back of the neck and then my left hand feels better.
  6. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Good word hasbeen. I was surprised to see a different response than the usual:

    Person A: I have a problem with... (insert bass name here)
    Person B: Give (said bass) to me

    That being said, I would agree. Is it a matter of technique? Are you new to bass and haven't necessarily built up finger/hand strength. Is the action set too high on it making you work harder than necessary?
  7. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    I own both a jazz and a Ric. I find the Ric easier to play because the frets are closer. I just bought a new bass myself and I'm finding that my hands are hurting a bit too. My guess it's because I'm playing a lot more. Just relax and make sure you take breaks. I think you'll get used to the bass.
  8. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    thanks. :)
  9. YZZ


    Apr 3, 2008
    I was playing Jbass befor i got my Rick and well.. I have had that problem to.. Now i am used to the rick and i always play it.. Everyday without any pain or such in the wrist.

    But i know that i also play with a shorter axelbelt now.
    I believe that could be a reason that i can play the rick easier now.
    So make the axelbelt shorter and play.

    'cause when you have the bass a long way down you have to bend the wrist more to get around the neck then if you have it higher up.

    BTW i am totally jealous about getting a 76' Rick as a graduation gift.. Wish I could get that too :D
  10. mpm32


    Jan 23, 2009
    My parents gave me a new Rick in '82 for Christmas. I was really into yes and rush and prior to that I was playing a Cort precision copy. I played it until I got to college and I spent some financial aid cash on a new Ibanez RB690.

    The Ibanez just fit my hands better and I was much more comfortable with it. The rick was relegated to backup status and just sat on the stand at gigs just in case I broke a string on my Ibanez - never happened.

    So I never used my rick. I know my parents spent a chunk of change on it and I felt bad about it but I sold it. I kick myself once and a while but it would've just been wall art.

    I still use the RB690 and have had a bunch of basses in between but I always come back to it. I even recently bought an ATK which although nice, and similar to my RB690, I find myself playing the 690 more.

    I guess the point is, if you'll find yourself not using the rick, it really makes no sense keeping it.
  11. Actumen


    Sep 5, 2006
    Albany, NY
    Thanks for the responses. I don't really know how to describe my technique via the magic of the internet, but I'll go around to some folks I know and see if they can give me some pointers.

    Thanks for helping me keep faith in a beautiful instrument. I'll keep in mind the left-hand technique tips you guys have posted and such.
  12. I'd definitely wonder about the action. Lots of used, older instruments, need a setup initially. If the action's too high and/or the neck too bowed, you could be having problems because the height of the strings is forcing you to do a lot more work than you should have to.

    Examining your left hand technique is probably a good idea, too. You should try to minimize tension, holding less like a baseball bat and more like a... I dunno, a piece of bread or something. Rics are known for being somewhat unforgiving with technique.
  13. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I agree with these 2 points which have already been made, 1) left-hand technique may need work, and 2) the bass may need a set-up. Good luck in any case, and keep the Ric.

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