Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Rickenbacker 4001 mod

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Peter h, Jan 15, 2005.


  1. Peter h

    Peter h

    Jan 15, 2005
    Hello all, I need advice! I saved and ordered a new Rickenbacker 4001 in 79. I was dissapointed in the sound from the start so it was seldom played. I found the bass wonderful to play but somewhat dead sounding compared to my old Stingray and EMG equipt Precision. I would like to put some new electronics in it and so far I only have found a direct fit from Bartolini. I think they are passive pickups and they also have preamp otions. It looks like 450.oo dollars should do it and is likely reversable. I am willing to pay the bucks but do not want to be dissapointed.
    Thank you in advance for any suggestions.
     
  2. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    Can't believe you hung on to that bass all these years.

    That's not a typical Ric description in tone. Have you ever had it checked out to make sure everything is up to par. Basses and pups do come wired incorrectly from the factory on occassion.

    My guess is, unless there's something wrong with the existing pups and guts, you won't feel much better after the replacement parts are dropped in. But you could try it and if not, finally move the bass down road. You could probably get more for it than you paid at this point. The bass is worth more with the originals so I'd keep those regardless.
     
  3. keb

    keb

    Mar 30, 2004
    A Rick of that vintage will still have the highpass capacitor in series with the bridge pickup. Removing or bypassing that will beef up the tone considerably.
     
  4. Peter h

    Peter h

    Jan 15, 2005
    luknfur...thank you for the reply, with regards to the possible factory defects... good thought, I have never had it checked out as pickup selection, tone pots etc. all worked as expected... I will have it checked out before I do anything.. It would be very ironic if it was something like that ha ha... with regards to tone and sustain, I think I am correct as other musicians would hear the thing and say something like ... I thought ricky's sounded better... strings, general adjustment, all good... Looks like I am reseaching for wiring diagrams and doing some investigating today...
     
  5. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Agreed. Bypassing the cap made a huge difference in my '80 4001! It only takes a second - you add a short piece of wire alongside of the cap, effectively bypassing it from the circuit. All it takes is two tack joints. Totally reversible.
     
  6. Peter h

    Peter h

    Jan 15, 2005
    Kurt, with that being said, if bypassing this capacitor boosts tone ... a defective could possibly deaden tone?? Thank you for the intuitive thought..
     
  7. keb

    keb

    Mar 30, 2004
    Yeah, if it's sounding dead (as in, lifeless highs) as opposed to "thin" (which that capacitor can do) there could be a short of some kind that's bleeding off too much treble (maybe a bad tone pot). How does it sound when you solo one pickup or the other?
     
  8. Peter h

    Peter h

    Jan 15, 2005
    Kurt... Thin sound is a good description as opposed to rich and powerful... pickups soloed are consistent with one another. I was emailed a wiring diagram from a friend and it shows the capacitor you mentioned shunted in later models.. upon inspection I found no obvious shorts. Wiring is as per diagram. After I check out the pots and capacitors I will thy the filter bypass. I appreciate your help, please pass on any further thoughts.
     
  9. Peter h

    Peter h

    Jan 15, 2005
    I am warming up my soldering Iron...thank you.
     
  10. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Yeh, I'd written a review on a Martin EM-18 (solid body electric) in harmony central and a guy emailed me about the tone in his. Can't remember how he described it but I emailed back and said if the guitar was stock, somethng was wrong. Seems he was the original owner (70's era). He was sharper than I was when it came to electronics and sure enough, somethng was mis-wired in one of the pups from the factory and he was a happy camper afterwards. So you're not alone.

    Only Ric I ever had was in a music store I owned and I didn't play bass then - but within the last year I've looked into their pickups and as a result I've read my share of comments from Ric players. For a bass that's characteristically bright in nature, a description of sounding dead was a red flag.
     
  11. Razor

    Razor

    Sep 22, 2002
    Dallas
    Somebody point me toward the schematic on this mod please. I've got a 4003 (hopefully the mod could still be done) and it tears down walls...but if there
    s a way to make it even beefier then that's something cool as well.

    Anyone heard anything about the Seymour Duncan Ric replacement pickups? Seymour's have, IMHO, always had really high output.
     
  12. pdusen

    pdusen

    Aug 18, 2004
    As I understand it, 4003s already have this built in?
     
  13. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    I've got a set of SD Rics in an Ibe. Haven't had a set of originals to date to compare them to but they have tone characterisitic of Rics. They're both 5 wire Hb's but the neck pup is relatively bright for a neck pup, bit of tubular tone to it - different. The bridge pup is pretty decent with good output and would be a good choice for a single pup bass.

    I reviewed them in Dimento's HB experiment so you could do a title search for "experiment" and pull it up if your'e interested. The bass they're in is a thudder acoustically so they balance out well - and the pups are set about an inch closer to the bridge than stock.
     
  14. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?p=81060&highlight=4001+bypass#post81060
     
  15. keb

    keb

    Mar 30, 2004
    Which year is your 4003? RIC stopped installing that cap around 1989 or so (though it's easy enough to see by just looking for that odd 3rd capacitor leading from the pickup selector switch to the bridge volume pot.)
     
  16. Razor

    Razor

    Sep 22, 2002
    Dallas
    I think mine's a 2000 model...
     
  17. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    I might be reluctant to modify a bass that old that was stock, and I can't comment on the electronics mod suggested here as I hadn't heard of it when I had my Ric. That said, I used to have a 79 4001 I bought used. I get things thrown at me when I say this, but... I didn't like the tone. At first I did, but it was my 2nd bass and a big improvement over my old P-bass copy, but exposure to other high quality basses left me less than satisfied eventually with the sound of my Ric. I get things thrown at me for saying negative things about a Ric, but it's true... For reference, Chris Squire was an early influence, when I think Ric I think of his tone. Also really dig Mike Mesaros' tone.

    I had the Bart replacement pickups put in, and it suddenly sounded GREAT. If you've heard enough Bart equipped basses to know what I mean, its tone was somewhere between "that Bart sound" and "that rick sound." I've since played other Rics, new and used, and of all the Ric's I've played, it was not until playing a Chris Squire reissue with the old fashioned "horseshoe" pickup that I found one that sounded as good. Very different, of course.
     
  18. apollo11

    apollo11

    Aug 19, 2004
    New York
    I wouldn't worry about modifying; it is one of the most common modifications on the vintage Rics, and all to benifit the output and balance. It is also easy to reverse, and the results are supposed to be phenominal.
     
  19. keb

    keb

    Mar 30, 2004
    I put Barts in my Rick as well. At one point I felt a little guilty and put the original pickups back in, but I missed the Barts and reinstalled them. And the bass' overall tone is indeed in between the Rick sound and the Bart sound (and no hum to boot.)