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Rickenbacker 4003 Beginner

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ultramangeos, May 28, 2002.

  1. Ok: I have just discovered the Rickenbacker 4003. I have read a number of the archived posts on the topic, but I would love to get a beginners intro to this instrument. I recently heard one being used on the new Hives CD.
    So I see where a number of people say that they are the best production bass ever...Why is that. I understand they have a unique tone. what are the pros/cons of this instrument. Why would I purchase this over a fender Jazz/P-Bass for roughly the same $.
    Also, I am curious why I do not see hardly anyone playing these, when they are such an awesome instrument. Is it that the unique sound limits the applications?
  2. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    These are good questions that I am sure you will get good answers to from the Ric guys (I played an Ibanez copy way back in the '70s). I think Rics are more rare because of mammoth pickguard you must either take off (making the bass ugly IMO) or get used to playing around, the fairly slender neck, and the somewhat narrow range of tones. Nevertheless, it is a heck of an instrument stacked up against the J and the P.
  3. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Well, let's start with the start, and that is that the first electric guitar was believed to be concieved by Rickenbacker. (The Frying Pan it was called) Though some argue that Gibson was the first with a model called "The Log". (catchy names they had, huh? :D )

    Anyways, Ric became popular in the 60's do to the British Invasion. (The British still have a fascinaition with Rics to this day) A lot of the bands at the time were playing them, such as The Beatles, The Byrds, The Swinging Bluejeans, CCR, ect.

    You should definatley check out some Yes or Wings-era McCartney to see what a Ric sounds like. They have a more trebly tone to them as opposed to a Fender. It's a very unique tone and I've never heard any other bass replicate it fully.

    There's a lot of design features on the Rickenbacker that you don't see on very many basses: Dual truss rods (on their 4 strings :eek:), stereo and mono jacks (some people here could probaly tell you more about the "Ric-o Sound), varnished fretboards, pickup cover on the rear pu. (Most basses have them on the front pu).

    I'm sure there are guys here that could tell you a lot more about them.

    p.s. While we're on the subject of Rickenbacker, I was wondering, has anyone here ever played a Cheyenne? I've never come across anyone yet who's played one.
  4. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    My few words on Rickenbacker, as the owner of a 4003 and previous owner of two 4001's.

    The most characteristic sound of the Rickenbacker bass is that of Chris Squire, especially in the 1971-1975 years.

    Paul McCartney, in the Wings era, also used a Rickenbacker, but strung with flatwounds which gave him a very different tone.

    Other references of typical Rick users are :
    - Michael Rutherford (Genesis), from 1972 to 1975
    - The bassist from Sparks (don't remember his name), in the "Kimono my house" album (completeley recorded with a 4001)
    - Bruce Foxton (The Jam)
    - Roger Glover and Glen Hughes in the golden Deep Purple years
    - Geddy Lee in the oldest Rush albums
    - Fred Turner (Bachman Turner Overdrive)
    - Lemmy (a 4001 in the earliest Motorhead albums, then he went for a 4004 which is very different)

    The pros of a 4001/4003 bass are :
    - huge mid/trebly tone,
    - very peculiar tone,
    - fabulous neck and fingerboard,
    - neck-thru.

    The cons are :
    - very peculiar tone,
    - E string sounding _SLIGHTLY_ different from the others (but you quickly get used to this),
    - not quite appropriate for slapping (though some slappers do use Ricks).

    A P-Bass or a J-Bass are more versatile, but I would recommend a 4001 or 4003 to anyone who wants to part from the "standard" Fender sound.

    At last, there's more satisfaction from the pros, than fuss from the cons. I love Rickenbackers.

    Hope this helps,
  5. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    BTW, if you want to hear how a Rick can sound with a very ordinary preamp in a very ordinary home studio, you can check on my website www.jeanlancon.com and click on my photo (short lo-fi MP3 demo).

    All the best,
  6. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ellicott City, MD
    Endorsing: Spector Bass Guitars
    nice Mac!
  7. supergirl


    Jan 9, 2002
    Ashland, OR
    i have a 4001 rick and pjazz fender and i prefer the playing on the rick. i am relatively new to bass playing but i really can hear the difference. the sound (tone) is much better on the rick and the thinner neck is much easier on my smaller hands. sometimes the upper (DG) strings don't cut through as strong as the fender does though.
  8. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Legend on McCartney is that despite his penchant to use his "Beatle" Bass, the engineers preferred the Ric because of its precision sound. Squire now uses a lot of basses including Warwick and Lakland, but the Ric is still his mainstay.
  9. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    Thanks ;)

    I definitely prefer Apple computers, especially for music.

    All the best,
  10. vivaknoxvegas

    vivaknoxvegas El Duderino Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    I think the bass used on the Tool album Undertow (Paul D'Amour) was a Rick.

    Also, the late great Cliff Burton (Metallica) used one on their first album I believe.
  11. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    I did not know Tool until a few minutes ago :eek:

    What I heard from the intro in "Sober" sounds pretty much like what I've got a few days ago with my 4003 plugged into an Ashdown ABM. And Paul D'Amour is listed on the Ashdown website as using their amps.

    All the best,
  12. vivaknoxvegas

    vivaknoxvegas El Duderino Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2002
    Knoxville, TN

    Well enjoy getting to know one of the best bands in the world. My personal fav is Aenima.
  13. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    Well, I don't mean to be too off-topic, but for what I heard from Tool, it's a bit too "trashy" for my taste.

    But Paul D'Amour's sound in "Sober" is great.

    All the best,
  14. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    as usual jaylanb hit the nail!!
    i am a diehard fan of Rick basses and i own a '79 mapleglo 4001. these basses are really great ones. they sound different and with the right amp setup they rock the house! if you are a metlhead you can hear a distinctive and cutting edge rick tone in the Mercyful Fate album with bass player sharlle D'angelo, titles are Time or Dead Again. if you can download some songs you'll hear a growling rick!!
  15. incubus2432


    Mar 21, 2002
    Grafton, Ohio
    I agree with all the posts above but would like to add my $0.02......

    I have two 4003's that I play in my metal band and the reasons I chose them are the tone, thin/fast neck, balance and also because everyone else isn't playing one. I also love the look....it doesn't look like everything else and is immediately recognizable.

    Why should you pick one over a Fender P or J bass?
    I don't know......that is up to your preference. I picked the Ric over the Fender for the reasons above AND because I have always disliked Fender necks (they feel like baseball bats to me).

    Why don't you see more people playing them? I don't know...maybe Ric doesn't offer endorsement deals to known artists (or not as many as other companies) so there is no "trickle down effect". Also Ric's aren't quite as versatile as other basses for various tones and playing techniques. For me the sound and playability are perfect for what I need so these issues don't bother me.

    Try 'em out and see what you prefer........
  16. I just got my Rick 4003 a couple of weeks ago. For all of the reasons mentioned above. I love this instrument and still pinch myself every time I pick it up and plug it in.

    The sustain is unbelievable -- pluck a note, go out to dinner and a movie and sleep in the next day and that bad boy's still ringing.

    I just got mine set up and the harmonics on it bring a tear to my eye. Rickenbacker builds 'em with a lot of love and care and it shows when you hold one in your hands and play it.

    Try 'em all out first though. You'll know the right bass when you hold it in your hands.
  17. Thanks for all the great input. I am currently using a MIM Fender Jazz, but I am thinking about the next level. There are quite few choices at the $1000 range. My problem is finding a Ric to play around with. The GC store by me has a used 5-string on the floor. I am however looking for a 4. But I might go play around with it just to hear the tone. I am thinking about the Ric because of the tone, and the uniqueness of the instrument. I am playing mostly punk/ska type music (badly):D
  18. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    don't mean to divert the thread too much, but I've got a 4004 Cheyenne & I like it.
    4004 cheyenne
    I just got it recently, mostly on a whim. You don't hear much about them. It's definitely more traditional/mellow than the average 4003; for one thing the p'ups are humbuckers and are in different positions. They're a little fatter/rounder, but can still get the 'poinky' growly tone when you dig in. You also can get the 5th fret harmonics on the neck p'up, which you can't do on a 4003...

    To the original poster:
    I also own a Fender J and P, and a Ric 4003 so I do feel somewhat qualified to compare. Not sure if there's a point tho- they are so radically different from each other. While the P may not be so 'versatile' tonally, it does its thing admirably.
    The J likewise has a very identifiable tone and feel.
    The Rics have their own strengths and weaknesses also, so it's going to come down to personal preference. None is inherently 'superior.'

    Tone, feel, aesthetics...which has more of what you're looking for? Fender? Ric? You have to play a bunch and decide for yourself.
    I decided 'one of each.'

    all my basses
  19. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    That Ric's a beauty, Xush. What kind of wood is it made out of. It looks like Walnut.

    You have way to many basses though. You should consider donating some of them to a worthy cause. May I suggest sending your Warwick Infinity and the blueburst Carvin to the "Liquid's Keep the Bass Rockin' Fund"? ;) :D

    p.s. What's the Dean 8 string like?
  20. incubus2432


    Mar 21, 2002
    Grafton, Ohio

    Just so you are aware.........I used to own a Ric 4003S5 and while the sound was like a typical 4003 the playability was not. Rickenbacker basically jams 5 strings on a neck about 1/16" wider (at the the nut) than the 4 string which made the string spacing tight so it took a little getting used to. I ended up selling it it because I had problems switching between the 4 and 5 string.....I guess I was just too set in my ways:mad:

    I just didn't want you to base your overall decision on the 5 string Ric.......

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