Rickenback 4001 or 4003

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Buhgingi, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. Buhgingi


    Feb 13, 2019
    Sometime in the future I'm thinking about getting a Ric. Though I'm stuck with deciding on which one I'd want to go with. What is your opinion?
  2. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    4003 models can be bought new.
    4001 models ended in the early ‘80s
    byoung93888 and Garret Graves like this.
  3. I'd say the 4003 because of the truss rods. As you may know, the newer 4003s have a push-pull out to give you the "vintage" 4001 sound.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  4. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    There ya go!

    4001 models had a .0047 cap in-line with the bridge pup, acting as a HiPass filter, approx 175Hz? One reason was that the 4001 had one pickup right up against the fretboard for really deep tones, and combining that with an unfettered bridge pup may have been too much bass for some of the amps of the day. (4000 basses, having solely the bridge pup, did not have the .0047 cap) The cap also shifted the phase of the bridge pup 180 degrees to mitigate the comb filtering, or the dreaded mid-scoop, so prevalent of two pickup basses. Produced a unique growl as well.

    After the 4003 models were introduced, the .0047 cap was eliminated from the circuit, resulting in a ballsier tone, but you get more mid-scoop now, so you usually have to attenuate one of the pups, just like on a Jazz.

    Then sometime in the 2000's, a push/pull knob was added so the player could take the cap in and out of the circuit to suit taste.

    .0047 cap in = Vintage Tone
    .0047 cap out = Modern Tone
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
    JoeDaddio, byoung93888 and B-Mac like this.
  5. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    From 2006, the 4003 had the Vintage Circuit included.

    I owned a 4003, built in 2005, it didn't have the Vintage Circuit. Still sounded great though.
  6. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    B-Mac and Garret Graves like this.
  7. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I owned a 78' 4001 as my first bass, and it had a the "scary-thin" neck profile that occasionally cropped up month to month/year to year, but it was no more than ordinarily stable, requiring typical seasonal adjustments of the trussrod. Other people rave about the stability of the "hairpin" rods used on the 4001, that was not my experience, and they are often damaged on older basses. The scary-thin neck may have been the culprit, you could flex it like a whammy bar! Unless its a rare variant or "deluxe" model with checker binding and "sparkle" full-width inlays , or other features that give it some collector value, the 4003 is a better bass in almost every respect, better pickups (arguable, the horsies were great, but tended to de-gauss over time), multi-piece laminate necks, more versatile electronics with the push/pull circuit, better trussrods, etc. I like the aesthetics of the 4003 models better too, thinner upper horn looks more graceful to my eye, a little clunky on the 70's model 4001. One thing that hasn't improved is the finish. Ric has had no end of trouble with the UV cure clearcoat, it has a bad habit of flaking off at pressure points like the bridge and other screwed-down hardware. It doesn't show up on every bass, and not right away in most cases, and the Ric corporate posture is to stonewall on it. Problem? What problem? If you buy a new 4003, look over the finish with a microscope, any finish flaws, return it. The one year finish warranty starts date of MANUFACTURE, not date of SALE, so it can conceivably expire before you even take possession of the bass, and they require you to pay shipping one way to CA for any warranty repairs, which sucks, IMO. The 4003 is a superb bass with a spotty QC reputation, don't buy anything that isn't close to perfect, at that price, you shouldn't have to.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
    Tvrtko and 12BitSlab like this.
  8. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Ric's are different than other basses so I simply suggest you try them out before you buy. I have a couple of older ones , but the new ones are fine . I've found the older rods on mine to be incredibly stable , it does not suffer seasonal shift . I bypassed the .0047 cap . I recently found a 4000 . I expect it to be as stable as my 4001 . No cap there .
  9. Searay


    May 20, 2012
    Having both, I believe the 4003 is a better bass. It benefits from design improvements, better pickups and build process. Always made in USA.
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  10. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    To me the biggest difference between the two is generally neck profile and that is to taste.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  11. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive


  12. PaulBoyer

    PaulBoyer Commercial User

    Jan 27, 2012
    You can find (if you look around long enough) just about every Rick bass model in the secondary (used) market. But if you are buying new, Rick is only making the 4003 (and the Walnut 4003W), the 4003S (and the Walnut 4003SW) with no binding, dot position markers, and no Rick-O-Sound feature, and the 4003S/5 (and 4003SW/5) five-stringer. The 4004 has recently been discontinued. If you want to know more about the different models and their features, you can drop a Jackson on Amazon and read all about them.
  13. i've hated the 4 of the 5 4003s i have tried or owned. too much lacquer on the necks and too thick for me. was not a fan of the pickuos, especially the neck pickups.

    the 4 4001s i tried had varying necks but all were slimmer than any 4003 i tried. they felt a lot less sticky and plasticy than the 4003. the pickups had less gain, more clarity and more mids and character. the 4003 just sounded bland in comparison.

    the cap can easily be bypassed in the 4001 or you can easily put in a push/pull pot to toggle betweeb cap or no cap. i prefer cap in the studio and no cap for live situations.
    Coolhandjjl likes this.
  14. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    The 4001s with the skunk stripe have very strong necks, and could be quite thin. There was something about those older finishes too. Ric always used a two part finish called conversion varnish, or CV, but the older formulations seemed less plasticy looking than formulations of the last 25 years or so. The current CV formula is quite brittle, and doesn’t warm up the color of maple either.
    bassboysam likes this.

  15. my '73 4001 has a very thin neck and i have not had any issues with it. i have an '80 4001 which is a bit thicker and also no issues. both have the skunk stripe
  16. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Be careful with that book ... about a week after I finished reading it I wound up buying a 4000 .
    rockinrayduke and PaulBoyer like this.
  17. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    It’s true that the 4004 addressed most of the gripes people had about Rics, pickup noise, bridge, ergonomics, etc, though they did sound a little different, modding them for coil split got that single coil clank. Perversely, they didn’t sell well. To replay the same broken record on 1000 threads, Rics are more individually unique than most basses, they are more like a high volume custom shop than mass production factory, the “hand” of the person who does the final sanding makes a difference on neck profile in particular. You really do have to play a few, which can be difficult given their relative scarcity in guitar shops. This is one bass I wouldn’t mail order, particularly with the ongoing finish problems.
  18. Gare Boo

    Gare Boo

    Jun 16, 2019
    Which one has thinenr neck?
  19. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    The 70's necks are usually quite a bit thinner than current ones.
    Gare Boo likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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