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Rickenbacker 4001 - experts please!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FireArm, Sep 27, 2008.


  1. FireArm

    FireArm

    May 17, 2007
    could someone explain please...

    can i use roundwound strings on them?

    are the electronics inferior compared with the 4003s

    are the neck "weaker"

    the reason i ask is because im planning on buying one and a friend of mine who claims to be a bit of an "expert" on vintage guitars etc.. warned me off it with the following points.... so i thought i'd ask some real experts ;)

    is there any truth in the above statements? - its a 1972 4001
     
  2. Navybass

    Navybass

    Mar 12, 2005
    Norfolk, Va.
    The electronics were actually the same in both the 4001 and 4003, so no the electronics are not inferior.

    About the string thing. According to Ric's owners manual back then they said only use flatwounds. Here's the problem with that statement. I seem to recall reading a couple of articles which stated that flatwound strings actually had MORE tension than roundwounds of the same gauge. With that being said, it would completely contradict Ric's underlying claim that roundwounds had more tension. Then again, in the same Ric owners manual, they stated to only use Rickenbacker strings. To me, this sounded like a ploy to get the consumer to buy Ric's strings.

    Many 4001 players have used roundwound strings on their bass with no problems whatsoever. Players like Geddy Lee and Chris Squire to name a few.

    Supposedly, the original 4003 was made to handle roundwound strings. It was made with a beefier neck and "better" truss rods. There again, I remember seeing both a 4001 and 4003 truss rod and saw no noticable difference in either one. The original 4003's had their truss rod adjustment screws at the body end, hence the need for the split pickguard. You removed the part of the pickguard that held the pickup so you could get to the adjustment screws.

    Your "expert" friend is only going by what Ric literature said and not actual experience. Again, actual experience has shown you can use Roundwounds on a 4001 with no problem.
     
  3. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    can i use roundwound strings on them?

    Yes

    are the electronics inferior compared with the 4003s

    the 4001 will have a .0047 capacitor that truncates bass and low mids from the bridge pickup and all pre 1990 basses have 500k ohm tone pots

    are the neck "weaker"

    yes but the neck is still pretty strong

    the reason i ask is because im planning on buying one and a friend of mine who claims to be a bit of an "expert" on vintage guitars etc.. warned me off it with the following points.... so i thought i'd ask some real experts ;)

    is there any truth in the above statements? - its a 1972 4001

    A 1972 4001 should be a very collectable bass and a very good player ... if you don't like it you can sell it for $3000 or more on ebay.
     
    bobyoung53 and Sartori like this.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    The old 4001 basses have a different truss rod system ... you move the neck manually and then tighten the rods to hold it in place.

    The 4003 has rods that move the neck as you turn them like most other basses.

    Improper rod adjustment on a 4001 will damage the neck.
     
    svlilioukalani and Sartori like this.
  5. Navybass

    Navybass

    Mar 12, 2005
    Norfolk, Va.
    One other thing I forgot to say. If you do buy the bass, here's a bit of info about the truss rods.

    Those rods won't actually move the neck. When you adjust the neck you must physically move the neck yourself, then tighten the screws so the rods hold the neck in the position you moved it in. If you try to let the rods move the neck, you'll do damage to the rods.
     
    Sartori likes this.
  6. Navybass

    Navybass

    Mar 12, 2005
    Norfolk, Va.
    Not the original 1'st version 4003's with the split pickguard. They had rods very similar to the 4001's and they worked just like the 4001 rods.
     
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  7. 0175westwood29

    0175westwood29

    Sep 16, 2007
    ive got a 1977 4001 and it plays lovely!

    the wiring is fine slightly annoying bout the bridge pickup has less output than the neck but i can get over that, and as for the truss rods in the neck they fine you just have to know what you doing.

    and also i dnt think they put the rick'o'sound input jack on the 4003's did they? and that opens up some cool possiblitys.

    andy
     
  8. Navybass

    Navybass

    Mar 12, 2005
    Norfolk, Va.
    Yes, they did. The only 4001's and 4003's that didn't have the Rick'o'sound were the "S" models. Those didn't come with binding or triangle position inlays either.
     
    Sartori likes this.
  9. 0175westwood29

    0175westwood29

    Sep 16, 2007
    well you learn somthing new everyday, i love those triangle inlays!
     
  10. Jjango

    Jjango

    Nov 16, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    To the OP: occasionally on TB (or any forum, for that matter), one often sees some very inaccurate advice being handed out. This is especially true about Rickenbackers, basses that you tend to read and hear so much misinformation about.

    Thankfully, this is not the case in this thread, and the posts above mine have pretty much nailed it.

    A lot of this "bad neck" stuff regarding Ricks comes from repairmen who don't know how to adjust a Rick neck, or from people who have dealt with Ricks that have been ruined by improper truss rod adjustments.

    Here is an excellent guide to working with Rickenbackers of all ages, I would suggest a reading of this page to any prospective (and current) Rick owners:

    Rickenbacker Bass Maintenance And Setup
     
    Sartori likes this.
  11. Navybass

    Navybass

    Mar 12, 2005
    Norfolk, Va.
    And therein lies the problem. You'd be amazed how many Ric's I've seen that would have been great basses except for the fact that previous owners or "repair techs" didn't know how to adjust the truss rods.

    ******VERY IMPORTANT NOTE TO OP******
    Check the truss rods out on the bass BEFORE you buy it. If the threaded ends, where the nuts are, are bent, the nuts have rounded corners, or one threaded end is much longer than the other one, these could be signs of improperly adjusted truss rods. You might want to aviod the bass if it has those indications.​
     
    Sartori likes this.
  12. FireArm

    FireArm

    May 17, 2007
    cheers guys - i knew it would pay to ask some guys who really knew what they were talking about, rather than as someone said earlier.. reading the ric manual and sucking it all up like a vacuum...

    so now ive established that there will be no problem putting rounds on it - whats the heaviest gauge i can get away about 100?
     
    Sartori likes this.
  13. Gegatso

    Gegatso

    Jan 16, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    On my '81 4001 I have always used 45-105's, never a problem in 27 years.
     
  14. pjmuck

    pjmuck

    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    I own a '78 Rick with roundwounds on it. The gauge I use is .40 -.95 D'Addarios. The neck has not moved in 8 years! I take the bass out of it's case every few months or so and it's in near perfect tune.

    You might be able to get away with a heavier gauge string (.45 -.105) but I was a little worried about the whole "weak" neck rumors too so I went with a lighter gauge. I also removed the cap. There's no loss of bass low end as a result of the lighter strings, and I do recommend removing or bypassing the cap.
     
  15. On my 1973 4001, I have always run 45-105 Rotosound Nickels---never a problem. The neck is rock solid and much less susceptible to temperature and humidity changes (almost no changes in the neck---stays in tune) compared to every other bass I now have or had at one time.

    The tone is not as sharply treble, still is steely, but not biting as compared to a 4003. That is why I sold my 4003 and kept the 4001.
     
  16. I own a '72 4001 that's had Rotosound (.045 to .105) steel rounds on it most of its life, though I prefer the nickel rounds now. I did however own a '72 4001 that had to make a few trips back to the factory for repairs due to using the same strings. This bass just didn't like 'em, so I think ultimately the answer depends on the bass. That said; what kind of strings are on it now? Chances are if they're round wounds and the bass is fine you won't have problems with it. I think any issues would have shown up over the years and you're probably good to go.

    Enjoy the bass should you buy it.
     
    Sartori likes this.
  17. 0175westwood29

    0175westwood29

    Sep 16, 2007
    is the cap the capacitor below the bridge pup? how much of a change, how easy is it to do?

    does it degrade the bass? as i said above mine was made in 1977
     
  18. Jjango

    Jjango

    Nov 16, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Please read the link I posted above, it gives a very clear description of the procedure. It's easy to do, and I did it myself.

    Also, the modification is a simple shunt, just a wire between two of the pots. Very easily removed.
     
    Sartori likes this.
  19. Jjango

    Jjango

    Nov 16, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    You might find this interesting, FireArm – here's what Russ Ryan, TalkBass member and Geddy Lee's personal bass tech, had to say about Geddy's Rickenbacker 4001:

    And here's what Russ had to say about Geddy's string gauge:

     
    Sartori likes this.
  20. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    Chicago
    I too have a 4001 ('76) with .045-.105 strings---nickel D'Addario---and have had no problems with the neck.
     

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