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Rickenbacker 4003 Neck Stability Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by franvarin, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. franvarin


    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    Hi, hoping for some of the long standing Rickenbacker players to weigh in here. I have a new 4003 and had a setup done on it (timid to try it myself, 2 truss rods scares me). The bass played awesome but, I brought it to a gig last night and had a lot of fret buzz. the bass was really unplayable. I attribute that to the change in weather living in New England. I know other players who have to adjust their necks frequently. I once had a 4001 and never had that issue. Is this something that will go away over time once the bass ages a bit or is it just something I'll have to live with in a 4003?
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Long Island, NY.
    In my experiences, the newer 4003s are a set and forget kind of bass.
  3. If you've only had the bass a little while it may have overshot the mark after being set up, it takes a little while sometimes for basses to settle in after being adjusted but it may also be something to do with all the humidity we've had here recently, you might want to raise your action a little anyway, it may be very low if it became unplayable because of that. Adjusting the truss rods is easy especially with a 4003, just loosen each one maybe an 1/8 of a turn then wait a day see how it plays, turn it more if not enough or if it bows too much just tighten them a hair and then wait a little while, no rocket science there. I use a 1/4" nut driver I got from Sears. If you are fairly gentle you won't hurt anything, another technique that i always use is to stand the bass on a rug in front of me with my foot in front of it then put my knee behind the body and pull the neck inward to take the string's forward pulling pressure off the neck as I tighten the truss rods, no need to do this when loosening them, i learned this by adjusting 4001's where it is necessary, with this technique you can also sight down the neck to see how straight or not it is after letting the pressure off.
    franvarin likes this.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I agree with the two previous comments. Sounds like it settled a little more after the adjustment. My Ric's neck seems to not budge. And my bass goes through some severe weather changes.

    If you know how to sight the neck (or even if you don't) I'd check that there's no back bow, and then I'd suggest just raising the action a bit at the bridge. I set all my basses up with virtually no relief, and I hear it rumored that the Ric SHOULD be set up like that. There's a good chance you're fine on that (assuming the tech you brought it to left a tiny bit of relief). Raising the action a tiny bit might be all you need to do.
    franvarin and bobyoung53 like this.
  5. franvarin


    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    thanks for the info! I'll have to mull this over a bit. I typically do my own adjustments on my Fender and Guild basses. But the Ric has me a little gun shy.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    If you actually attempt doing it, you may find yourself a little "wrench shy." :) The toughest part of adjusting a Ric neck is finding a wrench that fits. Was for me, anyhow.
    Charlzm and franvarin like this.
  7. fourlow

    fourlow Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2016
    Vancouver, BC
    Before you go randomly adjusting your neck/truss rods, you may want to check your neck relief first (there is a good chance that it has not changed since your tech set it up). What immediately comes to my mind is that your bridge height adjustment screws may have backed off a tad on you. If your neck relief is within spec/your preference then it may solve your issue rather quickly to just adjust your bridge height.
    Of course this is just a hunch on my part and your new bass may have settled into it's set-up a little bit or is being slightly effected by heat/humidity changes (especially if you had the bass set-up with an ultra low action). Either way I would first thing do a quick check of your neck relief before anything else.
    good luck!
    franvarin likes this.
  8. I have never had a Rickenbacker bridge's Allen screws back off although I guess anything is possible, but what could have happened is if the bridge is set very high, it may have tilted back a little which lowers action, if that is the case just pull it back towards the neck until it's standing straight, if this is the case the neck is probably too straight anyway.
    franvarin likes this.
  9. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    I'll throw my two pennies in.

    I purchased two new basses on the same day - a Ric 4003 and an Ibanez SR750. I love them both for different reasons.

    The Ibanez needed neck adjustments twice in the first year. The Ric? Well, it hasnt changed whatsoever and needs no adjustments.

    I know this is just one person's experience and has zero statistical significance.


    Maybe my contribution is worth less than 2 cents.
  10. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    Thats how both my 4003's have been. 2015 and 2016.
    Giffro, franvarin and Mantis Tobaggan like this.
  11. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Feb 18, 2017
    Ahhhh, the randomness of wood.

    I would never get real nervous about a new-production bass in terms of neck relief, as it always takes a newly-made axe a while to settle down: Remember, relatively speaking, that not long ago, your axe was lumber. And instead of sunny SoCal, you're in New England, so it's an adjustment. And as noted above, on new axes you often have to make an adjustment and give it till tomorrow for it to complete the movement (though any bass may be that way).

    Rickenbacker has certainly been doing this for a long time, and they're not really known for a lot of quality issues, so another reason not to get too concerned.

    If it were me, I'd chalk this up to 'new-ness' and then I'd find the Rickenbacker factory settings and adjust to them, and if not quite your preference, use them as a starting point. I'm a big proponent of knowing what my setup is by a set of numbers (for me typically, .013" relief, 1/8" string heights over the last fret, with that height sloping a hair higher from high to low side, and pickup clearance varying by what the pickups are). These then become known quantities you can always return to. I basically adjust mine to a dead straight neck, and then let just enough relief back in to kill the buzzes and rattles. When you get to a point where you hear some finger noises unplugged, but you can't hear them thru the amp, you've pretty much gotten all you're going get as far as a very, very low action, if you're into that sort of thing.

    No two basses will adjust out the same, and no two players play the same, so it's all individual preference. My friends at Alembic often recount that Entwistle's action was so low they were virtually unplayable by air-breathing humans, but they were just perfect and quiet for him. Go Figure !

    In my case, several years and older guitars rarely need much adjusting: The wood is finally settled on a moisture content, the glues and finishes have finished curing, etc. Brand new guitars, these processes are often still in progress and can affect things. And though no one wants to hear this, no matter how tight the builder's quality control and careful construction methods, sometimes . . . . . ya just get some 'rubber band wood' that's always gonna require attention. It just happens, whether you're Sire or Ritter.

    I've never owned a Rick, but the Alembics had double truss rods, and after much experimentation, in my case I aimed for the same 'feel' of tightness on both sides, and it's probably a lot harder than you think to get one real tight and one real loose and make the neck twist pretty quickly, at least on Alembics. Ricks have a similar laminated neck, so I'd be surprised if it was that easy to twist the neck, but I'm no authority. In any event, adjust your truss rod sparingly, no more than a quarter turn at a time (and that's a LOT): Think watch-making, not the lug nuts in a NASCAR pit stop !

    Any new axe, if you do it yourself, you just have to live with a while to learn what it likes, and as you keep this axe, in time I'm sure you'll get it dialed in just perfectly for yourself.

    There is an aggravatingly subtle inter-connectedness in the blend of relief, heights, frets, etc., that took me forever to get my head around (and more than a few Tylenol), but FINALLY, I 'got it' and I don't have to take mine to that schnook guitar tech who always said, 'it's a bass, man, why do you want it to play easy?'

    (he suddenly snapped to and thought, 'sheeeshh, what a long-winded answer' . . . . )
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    My Ricks that had the old style rods were immaculately stable over decades of use. The modern rods need the usual minor season adjustments.
  13. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I bought my Ric in 1977. Had the neck adjusted once when I went to a lighter gauge string.....that's it.
  14. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Did you drop D tune or something? Anyway, don't let the double rods freak you out. No big deal. Just loosen them a 1/4 or 1/2 turn (while you are wearing it) and see if the fret buzz goes away. If your G gets too far off the fretboard, just tighten that rod a bit.
    franvarin and DigitalMan like this.
  15. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Owner of seven basses - eligible for 44 TB Clubs Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    I'm in the set it and forget it camp. But the possibility of overshoot or additional settling in sounds like what's happening here.
  16. TJH3113


    Jun 15, 2015
    New Windsor, NY
    My '09 4003 needed an adjustment just about every time I took it out of the case. In the bass's defense, I set the neck nearly straight so any straightening would render it unplayable. It went the other way too though, sometimes I'd take it out and the action would be a mile high. Used to leave one screw holding the truss rod cover on just to speed things along. It might not have been the right thing to do, but, when adjusting the neck, I'd just give each rod an equal turn.
    franvarin likes this.
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    A 4003 will need a setup at least twice a year as will a jazz bass or a p-bass.

    The old 4001 basses could literally go years with one truss rod adjustment

    Always check the action before leaving your house ... or take adjusting tools to the gig with you
    franvarin, rockinrayduke and fourlow like this.
  18. Hounddog409


    Oct 27, 2015
    I bought a new 4003s a year and a half ago. have not touched it. and I live in NE Ohio. This means the bass can see 65 and sunny and a blizzard in the same day. This is not an exaggeration. We have some incredible swings. Hell this past spring we had a blizzard and rain/thunderstorm over the course of a day.

    I have yet to touch the neck or intonation. And yes it leaves the house. I take it from my air conditioned house out into the heat an humidity to play a gig then back home.

    I would question the guy who set it up.
    fretter and franvarin like this.
  19. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Bought my 4003 in Dec of 2016. It was built a year earlier. It shipped and arrived in almost perfect tuning. I don't generally find myself needing to tune much, nor has the action seemed to shift much. I don't play a lot, and I've only had the bass half a year. YMMV.
    franvarin likes this.
  20. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    The one I had (bought in 2011) was definitely not. Maybe I was just unlucky.
    franvarin likes this.