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Rickenbacker 4001 Truss Rod Replacement?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by sho-nuff, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. sho-nuff


    Mar 18, 2009
    I have a '77 Rick 4001 that needed a little TLC (general adjustment, fix noisy jack and pots) so I took it to a reputable local shop in St. Louis to have the work done. I always loved the tone of the bass, but concede that it could play a little better (action had to be pretty high in order to play without excessive fret noise).

    The shop called me when they had finished, but also said the bass needed to have the truss rods replaced to get the action where it really needs to be. Since I couldn’t talk to the luthier himself, I only had the explanation from the sales guy, which wasn’t very descriptive. He said the rods were not stripped, but there was no more adjustment left in them.

    The shop said it would be $180 to replace the rods, which I didn’t think was horrible, but I didn’t know what these repairs typically go for. After kicking it around, I agreed to have the work done, but I wanted the shop to call me first. I was still concerned about the process and how much (if any) cutting, drilling, etc would have to be done as the sales guy didn’t know at the time.

    The next day when the shop (sales guy) called me things were pretty different. He said the price was now $425-450 ($200/parts - $250/labor) and that they would have to take the fretboard apart to do the repairs. I asked him why the job was more than double from the day before and his explanation was that they forgot to include the parts. He was very matter of fact about it and didn’t really seem interested in explaining things any further. So, I just told him I’d like to pick up the bass and think it over.

    This bass is my baby and I’m not keen on someone doing open-heart surgery on it unless it really needs it and they are very competent in doing the job.

    OK…so here’s where I need some help.

    1) Is it common to replace the truss rods through the lifespan of an instrument? (I kind of thought this was absurd since Ricks have 2 truss rods and it seems the wood neck would likely wear out a few thousand years before the metal rods. Maybe the rods can be re-threaded?

    2) Is there any other adjustment that could/should be done before replacing these?

    3) Is $425-450 an appropriate price to pay for a service like this? (I’m not a cheapskate, but I don’t like being ripped-off either.)

    4) Are there any questions I should ask before having someone do this?

    Thanks for your help!!!

    (Also posted on thegearpage)
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    The old 4001 basses had soft steel folded rods. You loosen the rods adjust the neck and then tighten the rods to hold it in place. The rest of the world had rods that actually move the neck. But if you try to move the neck with the old truss rods you will pop off the fretboard. The modern 4003 basses have normal truss rods that work in a normal way.

    So if they are putting in rods that work the old way they will a totally custom job and that higher price is reasonable. You might ask and see what exactally they are doing to the bass. Do they know how to work on old Rics?

    There is another forum that I actually grew to hate because they are Rickenbacker snobs. But there are also some good experts there. look up the RicResource forum and look into the technical threads. While you are there tell them Jeff Rath still prefers his Fender style basses to his Rics ... then watch them get mad ... but I like my Rics a lot too.
  3. Not to get off topic but , Jeff do you have any soundclips of your Laredo with the acticve pre? Did it give you more options in the tone of the hb1's?
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I will have to do some sound bytes ... I've been too busy to get out my recording machine ... Sometimes making money is more important that playing ...

    A friend of mine in Portugal makes pickups similar to Ric pickups. So I have a 15k ohm single coil 5 pole pickup that I put in the Laredo. It sound good. The nice thing about the way the bass is set up now is I can swap in and out several different pickups.
  5. demon666


    Jul 16, 2005
    Providence RI
    You shouldn't have to remove the fingerboard to change the trussrods on a Ric. If you need new rods Dale Fortune over on the Ric forums ( http://www.rickenbacker.com/forum_index.asp can make you a set. You should check with the guys over there and they'll help you out. I think that price is really high and that they might not be familar with setting up Rics. No offence to the tech's but Rics aren't like other basses in terms of set up. Also here is a pretty good link for ya..
    http://www.joeysbassnotes.com/Rick maint.htm

    Hope this helps

    PS Replacement rods shouldn't be $200
  6. JFace


    Apr 17, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    I changed my bridge to the Hipshot rickenbacker replacement. I'm not sure if it works for the 4001 as well, but it did allow better control over my action and intonation. A lot cheaper of an option, too.
  7. Can't you just slip a few small washers under the truss adjustment nuts? It will give you more adjustment travel, and will cost you less than a dollar.

    You do NOT need to remove the fretboard to replace 4001 truss rods. They slide right out. I've done it a couple of times with my '79.
  8. adepagter


    Mar 27, 2009
    I actually owned my 4001 for several years before it required adjustment. Only then did I realize it had the different kind of truss rod. I hope they didn't have an inexpereinced set-up person try to bang it out quickly to save the regular repair guy some time. When I hear something like your story, I think just like a patient who doesn't like the diagnosis.

    If you decide to let someone else look at it, keep us posted.
  9. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Get your bass back--these people are incompetent! I have a pretty good idea who this is-- I used to live in STL.

    Ric truss rods SLIDE OUT, there is NO REASON to pull the fret board.
  10. NoHomework81


    Jul 27, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Sounds a little expensive. My 4001 had the truss rod problem a few years back. A local luthier replaced my trussrods, made a new truss rod block, replaned the fretboard, did a total refret, took all the hardware off and polished it, a redid the electronics (both pickups and wiring had been replaced before I bought the bass). This all cost me ~650. I agree; head over to the Rick forums to find a luthier in your area that knows Rickenbackers. Good luck! :)

    edit: +1 the truss rods absolutely slide out. No need to remove the fretboard from what I can tell.

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