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Rickenbacker 4001 vs. 4003

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by metallibass95, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. metallibass95


    Apr 7, 2009
    I am looking to buy a Rickenbacker bass and of course they produce 4003 basses now instead of 4001. All of the players I have heard on Rickenbackers played 4001 and their sounds are incredible. But I am wondering what is the main differences between the 4001 and 4003? I mainly need to know the differences in sound but all general differences between them would be good too.

    I just don't know if I should buy a brand new 4003 or look for a vintage 4001 because they may sound different. But any input on this from experienced Ric players would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.
  2. whitespike


    Nov 28, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Depends on what tone you're looking for. I play a Ric that sounds nothing like a regular 4001 or 4003. Mine is a 4003S, which does not have the Ric-O-Sound. It's mono, and is considerably warmer and punchier IMO, different from the trebly thing many Ric players are going for. Think McCartney vs. Geddy.

    But, then again, I don't even know about the pickups. I know mine was made in the 90s and it must be different pickups than the originals ... I know there is one called a horseshoe?

    I have just always loved the way mine sounds and have seen no reason to mess with it, even if the older ones had different pickups. I would love to know more about the different pickup offerings and tonal difference .... a link to sound clips would be great.

    Maybe we'll both get what we want outta this thread! Good Luck.
    mgamache65 likes this.
  3. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    The main difference the 4003 has is that they updated the trussrod system to heavier rods that can be adjusted in the traditional fender manner. The pups, bridge, and electronics stayed the same. Older 4001's had different pups but at the time of the swap between 4001 and 4003, the 4001 already had the hi gain pups.
  4. There is aboslutely no difference in any way. None. They just changed the name.

    Kidding of course. Sound wise my 4003 is a little less snarly and a bit warmer sounding than the 4001s I have heard, but I am comparing my sound to recordings of the "classic Ric sound" ala Rush et al;

    I like my 4003 since I can engage the capacitor with the push pull pot and get close to the old Ric sound. Also the 4001 truss rod system is pretty weird. Instead of just turning the nuts you haveto physically movethe neck into posistion. Despite that I still want a 4001.
  5. The 4003 has a stronger neck, and the newer models of the 4003 also have the switchable capacitor that blocks lows from the neck pickup.. basically they are the same, and they all sound SOOOO good.
  6. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    4003s are for people who like 4001s but also like low frequencies and straight necks. :)

    Also 4001s are hippy basses. Just in case you didn't know.

  7. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Buy a new one. Once you get the amp cranked up you won't be able to tell the difference between a new 4003 and a vintage 4001.

    The only ones that really sound distinctive are the super old 60's models that have the different pickups at the bridge. If you can find an original 60's rick like that you'll probably have to be rich to get hold of it. The reissues like the V63, the Chris Squire and the others also have that sound. Lots more clank basically.

    Otherwise, the difference isn't really worth torturing yourself over. If a brand new one is available, I'd suggest just getting one of those. The necks are a great improvement over the older 4001 necks.

  8. metallibass95


    Apr 7, 2009
    Thankyou so much everyone. You have helped me out alot. From what I can tell from all your inputs, the 4003 can get the same sound as a 4001 except that the 4003 is just alot less maintanence and less of a hassle to adjust than the 4001 is. Cliff Burton, Geddy Lee, Chris Squier, and a few ppl on you tube playing 4001's is what won me over because nothing i've ever head sounds like those rics. If I had to pick a certain sound or style I am aiming for it would be more so a Cliff Burton type sound. And he played a late 70's or early 80's Rickenbacker 4001. His sound is so awsome and I was worried that if I got a 4003 that I wouldn't be able to get that 4001 sound like i've heard everybody have.
  9. Mr. Mig

    Mr. Mig

    Sep 7, 2008
    I love my 4003.

  10. Just FYI, Cliff also changed the pups around...
  11. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    I played a 4001 back in the late 70's and I had an urge to relive my youth so I went searching for that look again. I tried out a 4003 and the neck felt like a big baseball bat in my hands. It didn't feel anything like the skinny 4001 neck that I remembered. Sound difference....who knows? The neck was the biggest difference for me. I ended up buying a '75 4001 a couple of months ago. Now this bass has the neck I remember from the 70's....

  12. wwittman


    Apr 21, 2004
    Westchester, NY
  13. metallibass95


    Apr 7, 2009

    Yea, well actually he first used his Rickenbacker live with the standard single coil pickups on it. Then sometime in '83 he put a Gibson EB-0 sidewinder pickup in at the neck and a Di Marzio J pickup in at the bridge.

    I wonder why he wasn't satisfied with the stock single coils and I also wonder what kind of difference that change made for him.
  14. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Good [points. Here's a few more. As stated the biggest difference is the neck. 4003's are much better in that reguard. As to pick ups, unless you get a 4001C63, (very expensive, and recently discontinued), the 4001 and 4003 are identical. Cliff Burton replaced his neck pick up with a big honkin' humbucker, (not recomended). The newest batch of 4003's, from 2007 to present, have the skinny necks again, as well as the "vintage tone selector", which cuts most of the bass fequencies out of the bridge pick up. Handy, if you want vintage 4001 tone. Also, new basses come with both a warranty, AND, new Ric smell, (priceless). There's also the 4004 model, which looks like a stripped down 4003, no pickguard, simple, (adequet) vol/tone controls, and humbucking pick ups. The 4004Cii has become my favorite bass, though I'd never part with my 4003. Hope any of that helps, now go get a brand new Ric 4003 and join the Ric club.
  15. I'll sell ya mine.

    Oh wait, no I won't :)

    But you gotta get one.
  16. metallibass95


    Apr 7, 2009
    lol thanks man. Cliff did change the neck pickup out for the Gibson EB-0 sidewinder humbucker and the bridge pickup out for a DiMarzio J pickup, I just really wonder what exactly that did to his sound and why he wasn't satisfied with the stock ric setup.

    Also if you notice the changes Cliff made to his bass are ver similiar to the setup of Billy Sheehan's Yamaha Attitude II bass. Billy does run the EB-0 sidewinder pickup (although Billy's is made by DiMarzio and Cliff's is made by Gibson) and he also runs a Dimarzio P-pickup right behind the sidewinder as well. His bass has an incredible sound, I wonder if Cliff's bass sounded similar to Billy's after the mods Cliff did to his bass.
  17. The neck on my '86 4003 is pretty close to my '72 4001, actually I prefer the 4003. I've read/heard that for a period of time 4003's had larger necks but the newer ones have been slimmed down again. I haven't played any new ones in the last few years so I can't say for sure.
  18. I have an 07, but had played some late 90s/early 2000s before I bought it and it does feel slimmer. Can't compare it to a 4001 due to lack of experience.
  19. You can install the switch in a 4001 for a few $ so don't let that be a deciding factor.

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