1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Rickenbacker 4003 body differences

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by D Bopp, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. D Bopp

    D Bopp Supporting Member

    May 26, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    I'm sure there has been posts about this before, but I have two 4003's in my possession, and had them both out tonight. I snapped a few pics to show the differences in body styles.
    The one with the stickers on the pickguard is a brand new 2013. The other one is from 1990.

    You can see the newer model has skinnier upper horns. Also, the top horn on the 2013 is a little shorter than the 1990.

    The headstocks are a bit different as well.

    The neck on the 1990 is thinner than the new one. The new one is a bit chunky and in a way feels flat on the backside, almost like a 2x4 with rounded off edges. That may be a bit extreme, but it's the best way I can describe it.

    Enjoy the pics!

    Mastermold, Briton, Doctor J and 3 others like this.
  2. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Cool. I thought they were all the same except the neck profile.
  3. bobalu


    Oct 1, 2004
    above the 49th
    That's quite a big difference in body size. I did not know that. Very cool.
  4. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Yeah, the 1990 body looks gigantic in comparison.
  5. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    A whole fret difference where the necks meet the bodies too.

    If someone told me one was fake, I would guess the one on the left.... Obviously not the case thought.
  6. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    Boy! No kidding!!! I'll bet it's the "same difference" throughout the decades too!

    There's quite a difference between my '86 4003S and my '95 v63. And I don't want to part with either!
  7. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. I didn't know the bodies changed that much.
    eriky4003 likes this.
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Rickenbacker bodies have changed through the years ... In the 50s each bass was like a one off creation. In the 60s through 1972 the basses had the calssic shape we know. The necks were really thin ... and many failed. !973 to early 80s the 4001 got a fatter neck and smaller headstock. In 1980 the 4003 was born. On the outside they looked a lot like the 4001 from the 70s. In 1990 the bodt shape changed a little again. In 1997 the 4003 got went back to a body and headstock shape that is more like the 60s 4001 basses. This shape continues to today.
  9. rickster4003


    Feb 15, 2013
    Nice pictures-interesting. You can also see the inlay differences. But the bodies are very distinctly different when next to each other.
  10. the newer ones are a lot better looking i think. the curves and proportions are more appealing. it's a more refined look overall.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Bit by Bit New Ricks are looking more like the old 60s 4001 basses. The body shape has returned to the 60s. The headstock shape and the walnut headwings are more like the 60s. They have gone back to full width inlays. You can get toaster and horshoe pickups. You can get the plastic tug bar, you can get the 60s shape pickguard. Pretty much the only thing missing is the Checkered binding.

    One major difference is the 4003 neck is strong and the fretboard won't pop off if the rods are improperly adjusted.

    Here's some pics of my 1968 4001.



    shaggy45, knumbskull, Saint70 and 6 others like this.
  12. D Bopp

    D Bopp Supporting Member

    May 26, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    I'm torn between the body styles. But I favor the 1990 head stock a little more.
  13. I wasn't a big fan of the larger horns when they first appeared, but I'm even less of a fan of the newer thin horns. Coupled with the full width inlays it appears ill-proportioned. If they become any thinner, they will be pointy! For me, the sweet spot is in between those two illustrated sizes.
  14. lowendblues

    lowendblues Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2004
    The older one shows how worn the original templates had become.
  15. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    My Ric is perfect, and if anyone says otherwise, I will disagree vehemently.
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I have a 1990 4003s5 that I repaired / restored ... it has those fat wings they were doing in 1990 ...

  17. Doh! I posted to the wrong thread. There's a brand new thread about this stuff and this thread was linked to from there.

    Anyway, I have a 1987 V63 with the larger horns. Darn near bought another V63 years later just to have one with normal horns but never got around to it.
  18. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I quite like the big fat horns (ha!) on the older bass. If anything I think the new horns look too thin and a bit dainty (ha!).

    It looks, to my ignorant eyes, that the bass-side horn on the new basses are thinner even than they were on late '60s basses?
    Rezdog likes this.
  19. the mojo hobo

    the mojo hobo Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    My Oct 1988 V63 has thinner horns and a beautiful dark Fireglo.
  20. I think so too and it was a surprise to me to hear that the thinner horns were supposed to be more like those from the 1960s.

    Yes, I have the dark fireglo too and I love it.

    Regarding the thicker horns on my bass, I have read of another owner of an 87-88 V63 also having thicker horns. I guess there wasn't much thought exercised at the factory at that time as my bass - remember it's supposed to be replica of a vintage bass - also has the extra tailpiece screws in addition to the notch. Go figure.
    Axstar likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.