Rickenbacker 4003 factory set - what are they ?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Geoff Wood, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. My 4003 is still relatively moderately-played, and the strings that started of feeling (and sounding) delightful, still do. Very 'slinky', which may or may not answer my question below.
    I realise that they are a slightly custom set of gauges (45/55/75/105), but wonder what the actual type of string is, and who is the actual manufacturer. Very slinky feel, and remain very silvery looking.
  2. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    They have been many things over the years. The best known are the Maxima flats of the '60's. Back then, they may have also had a set of nylon tapewounds, or another set or two. Then I believe at various times Mr. JH has let it slip that in recent times, but at different times, SIT and D'Addario have made Rickenbacker strings, and these have been nickel plated round wounds. This would be a good question to ask on the RickResource forum rickresource.com .

  3. Will check out the Rick site you mention. Certainly are nickel and round-wound ! And seem delightfully light-feeling for their gauge.

  4. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Exactly so. If your 4003 is at least "fairly" new, simple odds would say that they are the made-to-RIC-spec D'Addarios. As iiipopes said, JH did - reluctantly - admit to SITs and the D' Addarios. He sort of intimated that there might be others, but refused to say what they might be. Personally, I didn't care for the modern stock Rick strings much - but, I'm not much of a round wound fan, anyway. However... I got a closeout deal on Rick's "Light Nickel Rounds" with a 98 (?) E string several years ago. Those things were, simply, the nicest rounds I've ever played. My old '73 4001 loved those things. Sadly, my last set is on terminal life support, and will be - hard to say it - reluctantly replaced by some low tension flats. It would be nice to know who actually made those strings....:cool:
  5. Checked and it was new 2012 if that narrows things down more.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Story of my life: get a set of strings I really like, and within a year or two, they are quit being made:
    Original D'Addario "Reds": perfect for college jazz band, gone after only a couple of years.
    Real Black Diamond guitar strings from the early '70's: played what I didn't know as a teenager in the mid '70's was NOS at my local music store until they were gone in the late '70's.
    Gibson flatwound electric guitar strings of 10-20 years ago (successors to the old Sonomatics): gone; I nursed the last set until I was afraid of catching tetanus and they finally wouldn't hold tune or intonation anymore.
    Gibson Bright Bronze acoustic strings: gone after five years; fortunately I saw them going and got a dozen sets for my J-45.
    GHS Super Steels in all gauges: gone as of a couple years ago. Fortunately, juststrings.com had NOS singles in both GHS and KSmith (same string - different silk), some still being made, others not, so between the two I was able to get enough light gauge balanced 5-string sets for the forseeable future.
    GHS Progressives: gone for now; looking forward to 2.0 if Jon Moody can kick the factory back into high gear. C'mon Jon! We're all cheering for you!

    I will be really, really pissed off if D'Addario discontinues the BT sets, as they are an answer to having custom ordered and purchased singles for a "balanced" set in the early '90's before anybody knew what that was, especially in Progressives, the then new string, in 45-60-80-105; the 2.0's are supposed to be in 44-60-80-106.
  7. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    When these strings die, if you don't want to get another set of RIC strings from the boutique ( 95511-STRING SET BASS STD 45w 55w 75w 105w ), since the middle gauges are light compared to most other sets, there are three sets I recommend to replace them:
    1) if you want the rounds, the D'Addario XL170BT set is 45/60/80/107, and is comparable in tone to the current RIC offering;
    2) if you want old school flats, the Optima RB are very, very similar to the original Maxima flats in construction, gauges, and tone that came on 4001's in the '60's and '70's, and even advertise with a picture of a Rickenbacker bass. Optima advertises itself as the successor company to Maxima.
    3) For round tone between these two, the GHS Balanced Pure Nickels in the 40's set are wonderful. I had a set on my 4002 (yes, "2," not "1" or "3") for awhile, until they finally died and I am taking the opportunity to try other strings until GHS gets Progressives 2.0 up and running, my favorite strings on this bass since I got it in the early '90's.
  8. I wonder if the nut needs to be filed at little to take the D'Addarios, or if they squeeze in to keep it 'virgin'...
  9. farace


    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    I liked the XL Reds, too, and used them on my ‘78 4001. They got discontinued. Then a few years back they came out with EXP Reds. Not quite the same tone, but in the right neighborhood, and since they were coated, they lasted longer, and my fingers didn’t turn greenish-black (I’m sure that my body chemistry changed, too, since my early ‘20s). The ‘78 long having been stolen, I installed them on my ‘83 4003. Then those were discontinued. Fortunately I have a few sets put away.

    I like the stock Ric strings. There was a time, probably around the late ‘80s or so, that those became unavailable for some reason. Fortunately they’re not hard to find now, but I’ve still got some of them socked away, too.

    I’m talking with someone about buying their Ric fretless, and it has old Ric tapewounds on it. I didn’t even know they existed. I’m almost afraid to like them, because I may never see another set of them.