Rickenbacker 4001/4003 tone question.. older vs new

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ultra60, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. I owned 70's and 80's Rics until the mid 80's Bought a new one in the late 90's, and thought the tone had drastically changed. I now own one of the newer ones, with push/pull pot. I still don't think it sounds like the older ones.

    Is it just me, or do the 90's and current 4003's just sound much darker than say the 80's, or even 70's 4001's?

    I don't want to change out the pickups, but could the existing be rewound to give a more clear tone? If so, what would be the key to successfully pulling this off?

  2. This may be a dumb question on my part but what kind of strings did you use back in the day and what strings do you use now?
  3. I've tried a few different types, including DR, and Roto. I played Ric's into the mid 80's then switched to a Jazz. I recall the Jazz being slightly brighter. When I got back into Rics in the late 90's, it seemed that they were now much darker than what I remembered. Today I own both. The Jazz is much clearer, but the Ric has more boomy bottom end.
  4. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    They probably use different pots now. I'm sure there are guys in the Rickenbacker club that would know the answer to this. Ric5 seems to know everything about Rics.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    70s 4001 basses had 250k ohm volume pots and 500k ohm tone pots. the pickups were 8k ohm single coils. Then with the 4003 they switched to 11k ohm single coils pickups and all 250k ohm pots. Then the newer basses with the vintage tone circuit got all 330k ohm pots and still have 11k ohm single coil pickups.

    The old 4001s had the .0047 capacitor the removed all bass and low mids from the bridge pickup. In 1986 this capacitor wh\ent away. The vintage circuit brought it back with a push pull option.

    If you want to older 8k ohm pickups calssic amplification makes pickups like the old ones. Rickenbacker still makes a toaster pickup that you can put in the neck position.
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Roll off the neck volume to 7 and see if you like the tone better.
  7. My Ric has the vintage push/pull, but that does not get the classic tone I recall. rolled off the neck volume to 7, and not there either. As a Ric purist, the following is tough to state, but keep in mind its just my opinion. In the 70's, I owned an Ibanez Ric copy. Sold it around '80, then found another a few years ago. I believe the Ibanez sounded more classic Ric than my current 4003. I should have kept that copy, but oh well. I felt it more righteous to keep the real thing.
  8. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    As Ric5 alludes to, there were several different pickups used by Ric through the years. My guess is that the tone you remember came from single-coils, and the tone you have today is a product of humbuckers. Am I right? :)
  9. The Ric pickups are the standard hi gain.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    The question is ... how good is your recall ...

    To my ears the modern 4003 sounds a lot like the 70s 4001 basses. The 4003 pickups are a little hotter and the pots make it a little darker, but it is not a big difference. The single coil bite and treble is still there and the modern Rics still have the high mid bark of the maple construction.

    Try putting in 500k ohm tone pots and Classic Amp pickups.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Yep ...

    The 60s Horseshoe was about 6k ohms and the magnet would degauss easily. The old toaster and new toaster are pretty much the same both would to 6.7k ohms. The 70s high gains were wound to 8k ohms. The modern high gains are 11k ohms. The reissue horseshoe is very similar to the modern high gain. The hb-1 pickups are series humbuckers wound to 15k ohms. Also some of the late 80s pickups were overwound an additional 2 or 3 or 4 k ohms.
  12. Certainly a fair question. What I know is my older Ric's used to get Geddy's tone from "All The World's A Stage". Without a lot of EQ'ing, not sure the newer one will get me there.

    But, I rarely ever set any amp knobs, other than gain/volume, etc. I am very much set and forget. I'm fairly certain the new Ric pickups are hotter, and not as bright as they used to be.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If you listen to Chris Squire the last couple of decades he no longer gets the Fragile/Close to the edge from his old 60s 4001. Modern amps with a lot of overhead sound different than old amps being pushed.

    That is why I use effects.
  14. The tone I'm more after is this:

    To me, that is classic Ric tone, that the new ones don't get... even through an SVT of the same era. Granted, that is live, but I've had older Rics that can nail that easily.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Was Geddy still playing a p-bass back then? Also Geddy pretty much gets the same tone out of Rics and jazz basses. A lot of that dirty overdriven sound is either tube amps turned up or effects pedals turned up. You can't just plug a Ric straight into your practice amp and expect a concert tone.
  16. RMooreRAM


    May 2, 2013
    I took my 74 4001 and bought and installed the 4003 electronics, keeping the dual jack options and it sounds GREAT with multiple on board tone variation not normally found on a passive bass. I tend to be a purist preferring passive basses. I gig through a Hartke 7000 and make it my primary tone control using the on-board adjustments on the Ric. I like to change basses with sets and own an 89 Fender Jazz American deluxe with the S butto; a 1991 Fender custom Jazz V Deluxe converted to passive; a 74 Gibson Grabber that cuts through all of our 9 piece band at lower volumes; a 59 precision (Which I LOVE to play) and a few others including a 200? Fender Jaguar Deluxe that is for sale. But in summary, I love the tones of my vintage Ric with new (2007) controls.
  17. jobbermania

    jobbermania Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2012
    Philadelphia PA
    Thanks ultra60 for posting this question.
    And thanks to Ric5 for your great depth of Rickenbacker knowledge and enthusiasm.
    I've learned a lot about my Rics over the last few years from your posts.
    It's an eye opener for me to hear that Rickenbacker changed the volume and tone pots at various points over the years.
    And interesting as well that the tone and volume pots were different values at one time.

    I have recently gained a much greater appreciation for my 94 4003.
    I did the RWRP mod on it about a year ago and more recently shielded the pickup and controls cavities.
    It was basically unusable in the jam room of our band because of EMI sources which we couldn't completely find/eliminate.
    But it sounds SO strong and full and good practicing at home.
    So long as I have both pickup volumes at full. (before doing the RWRP mod)
    So now it's the bass I'm wanting to play all the time.
    The bridge pickup sounds great on its own in many situations
    and I can move to both pickups at full volume or with the neck volume rolled off to 8/10ths or so.

    I have a 77 white 4001 as well. I installed a Barden pickup set in it.
    The original neck pickup was a bit weak and microphonic and I was looking for an easy fix for the single coil hum issue.
    The Bardens are smooth and hum-free and all but don't have nearly the output and punchy sound of my 94 4003.
    Now after reading about the different pot values in 4003s and the 330K pots with the vintage tone switch,
    I am thinking that the Bardens might seem more "alive" if I move them to a 4003.

    Anyway, ultra60, love and enjoy your Ric basses.
    Thanks again to Ric5 and other Ric enthusiasts on TB.
    And yeah, try rolling off the tone controls to 7/10 or so. Awesome.