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Rickenbacker 4003 tailpiece mod, picture tutorial

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Btone, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. Btone


    May 5, 2001
    Hi, RIC owners.
    This is a fairly easy mod to a design flaw in the RIC tailpiece, well described elsewhere on the web:
    I thought I'd take some pics of the whole process and post it here.

    Problem: No contact between tailpiece and body where the three front screws go - causing a possible tailpiece lift and, in theory, decreased sustain.


    Loosen strings, remove bridge and loosen tailpiece screws, there's five of them on a modern 4003.


    Carefully lift tailpiece off the body and put a small amount of playdough or similar stuff right beside one of the screw holes. The point is to determine the thickness of the washer to use between tailpiece and body.



    Now, gently put the tailpiece back in its place, and press lightly. The playdough will stick to the tailpiece, and you will be able to measure the thickness, and find the right washer for the job, you will of course need three of them. The thickness needed may vary from bass to bass, that's why you have to go through this process.. My 4003 needed aprox. 2 mm washers.


    Like this:


    Or like this, if you're really rich, like me:


    For a rainy day..
    Those coins had the excact right thickness :)

    Now you're ready to put the thing back together again, make sure the ground wire doesn't get in the way:



    And you're good to go!

    Good luck, hope some of you found this helpful.
  2. deekay911

    deekay911 Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Charleston SC
    Nice Job BTone - will certainly help some to have the pics!!! I did this myself a while back but didn't use the playdough trick - just had to try a few different thicknesses until I thought the space was taken up. This is a much more scientific method. Thanks!!
  3. Very neat strategic use of playdough, and I think the extra sustain you gain from using the higher density nickel alloy in the Norwegian Krone will help to emphasise sustain in the lower mid range frequencies far better than a mild steel washer. I think. :D
  4. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Odd business! :confused:

    What is the theory behind the original design? It's such a glaring structural lapse, there must have been some point to it otherwise.
  5. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    that might be optimistic, rics have all kinds of questionable design features.
  6. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    Isn't the idea of a gap in the three screws so that you can run it down and improve contact between the bridge and the rest of the body? I don't really see a downside to the original design.
  7. Oluap84


    Sep 7, 2014
    Can't see the pics :(
  8. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
  9. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    No pics????