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Rickenbacker 4003

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by deadhead, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. I got a new Rickenbacker 4003 about a year ago and since then I've had some problems with it. The first thing I noticed (and this is my major problem) is that the volume output from the different strings is different, especially on the frets. The E string is the most notable problem--it is quieter than the other strings. I have changed the pickups to Seymour Duncan replacements but the problem persists which makes me think it is the bass structure itself that is the problem. Has anyone else had this problem with a Rickenbacker? Can anyone offer any help or advice with this problem? I'm really really bummed about it because I spent A LOT of money on this bass and it just isn't working the way it should. (the bridge pickup has a more even sound. the neck pickup is the one with the big problem. i know this seems counter-intuitive because i think its the bass and not the pickups...but it was the exact same with the stock rick pickups too so.....)
  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Fist off, I'd put the Ric pups back in. Those SD's, well, I won't go there, but to correct the problem, you need to lower the G string side, until you have balance across the strings. It is common, but I've never had this problem with any of my Rics. If it's new, the pole pieces are individually adjustable, an even easier fix, but lose the SD's, it totally ruins the whole vibe of the bass.
  3. i have a really good guitar tech that has always been able to work out the problems with my basses for me. he has worked on adjusting the string and pick-up height to try and account for the problem but it hasn't worked. in terms of volume my strings are (from one to ten, ten being the loudest): E- 6, A- 10, D- 8, G- 8. If you catch my problem, just lowering the G string or raising the E won't work, because then the A would be too loud and so on. about the seymour duncans, i like the more bassy sound that i get out of them, i realize the changes it makes to the sound. i might put the ricks back on, but that is not my problem right now.
  4. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Yeah all my ricks had a kind of quiet E. My current 4003, a '99 or '00 model, is a little better but you still have to bang on the E a fair bit to get it even with especially the D and G strings.
    I have no idea why that's the case.

    I always ran compression on my ricks to get around this. This would even out the volume differences. Or just crank the amp up, that'll even it out too ;)

    You might try experimenting with different string guages and types too. I.e. a lighter guage on the E might bring it out some. I have light guage strings on my rick now which is probably why the E is a little louder (I ran heavier ones on my other ricks).

  5. Korladis

    Korladis Banned Supporting Member

    Take those SD's out. Seymour Duncan makes some great pickups, but the Ric replacements they advertise do not number among their better designs.

    Just raise the pickups on the E string side, or lower them on the G string side. Or both. If your bass was made in the last couple years, it should have adjustable pole pieces on the pickups. These are great. Just lower the 'A' string pole piece a bit.
  6. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX

    I have my own love/hate relation with Ricks and have tried those to work around it with no success. Ebay them and use the money to get a pro setup and pickup adjustment.
  7. deekay911

    deekay911 Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Charleston SC
    Common issue - I had it on both my Rics, both of which have the adjustable pole pieces, so it really was an easy 5 minute job to even them up. For the life of me I cannot understand why they come out of the factory like these though, it's as if they pay absolutely no attention to QC or setup at all. Just sloppy when you are paying that much money.
  8. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    Tom Reiser by chance? I had the same problem with a 4003 and ended up sending it back to MF for another. I had Tom look at mine first (before sending it back) and he mentioned a few others he'd seen with the same problem. Seems Ric got a bad batch of pickups perhaps.
  9. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    A new bass with a warranty, I wouldn't spent one dollar on if it had issues. I'd sent it in for repair.

    But I'm sure the new Rics have adjustable pole pieces on the pickups.
  10. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    They do, but in my case (and I assume his too) the bass I sent back couldn't be corrected with pole adjustments. (FYI -- the replacement I got from MF was just fine, no issues).
  11. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Well remember too.... the 4003 is basically a, what, 50 year old design? Maybe earlier (I think it originally came out in the 50's?).......

    It's changed a little bit with the neck and recently the adjustable pole pieces but otherwise it's frozen in time from back in the Beatles days.......

    You should be grateful it produces any sound or audible notes at all..........

    Like I said, the quiet E thing I never could fix on my ricks (I'm on my third right now) tho the adjustable pole pieces might provide a way to even it out.
    But then again I knew at the time I wasn't exactly playing a modern bass. I just cranked up the compression or the amp and didn't worry about it....

  12. Korladis

    Korladis Banned Supporting Member

    The first 4000 series bass (the single pickup 4000) came out in 1957. The 4001 a few years later. The 4003 came out in the 80's, but as you say, the main difference from the 4001 is the neck, which has more user-friendly truss rods.

    Being 50 years old doesn't mean it's obsolete, though. The Fender Precision Bass was released in 1951, IIRC, and changed significantly in 1957, to the more familiar design we all know. The Jazz Bass came out only a few years later. Like the 4003, both are old designs, but very good ones.

    And of course, both Rickenbacker and Fender have released several things since, some of which are more modern basses that still retain some of the visual cues of their traditional designs.
  13. what kind of strings do you have on there? the last ric i owned had the same type of problem ('05 fireglo, bought new from ash). the stock strings didn't work for me, so i put on a set of thomastik flats and it pretty much solved the problem.
  14. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I just meant a dead string here and there isn't too bad for a 50 year old design - or putting it another way, you got other problems to worry about besides something like that ;).

    The Fenders were even worse - on my 70's jazz bass I had back in college the only string you _could_ hear was the E...... In fact, I bought my first rick 4001 to replace that bass. The rick was heaven compared to that piece o crapola for sure!

    I think of my current rick as more like a piece of art than a functional instrument that I'd gig with. I love the looks and the build quality, but its sound isn't something I can use on a regular basis (it's also a fretted model). But I'm keeping it for artsy as well as investment purposes.
    But for playing, I use my G&L's for that.

  15. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    Lower output on the E string is a complaint you hear fairly frequently with Rics. I had a gorgeous Montezuma Brown 4003 that had that problem. I tried everything I could think of (new strings; pickup adjustments; etc.). Nothing helped enough to where it didn't bother me.

    I took it to a guy considered to be one of the best techs around Memphis. He worked on it and it still wasn't good enough in my opinion. I ended up selling it because to me, if a bass doesn't have a killer E string, I just can't be happy with it.

    I've never had that problem with Fenders. I've always been able to get them set up to where they sound good. The Rics are probably the most beautiful basses out there, but they're just not for me. I've had two 4003's; and I've come to the realization that I'm just much more comfortable with Fender and Fender-style basses. But that's just me...
  16. yea man, it actually was tom, lol. small world. yea, he mentioned to me that other people were having these problems too.
  17. I have to say I am starting to completely agree with you. I have a Mexican made Fender jazz with Seymour Duncan vintage pick ups and a Badass II bass bridge at it is wonderful for being the price it is. I love certain things about the Ricks but a couple things bug me, most of all this E string problem. Yea, if an E doesn't roar, it bugs the crap of out me.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Here's how I improved the E string on my 4003 bass ... I added a 5th string. The additional tension on the neck improved resonance.

  19. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    And what is fundamentally different about any newly designed 4 string bass?

    Made of hardwood? Most are, other materials are still the minority.
    Got a scale length of 34 inches? Still the most common give or take an inch or so
    Any fundamental difference in how the tuners work? Errr...no
    Any fundamental difference in how the bridge works? Errr...no
    Any difference in what the trussrod does? Some may work in a different way but they all do the same thing
    Any fundamental difference in the way the pickups work? Unless it's a lightwave or relies entirely on piezos it'll still have some configuration of wire coils wrapped around some magnets

    The only major change in the fundamental design of ALL electric basses in the last 30 years is the addition of active electronics and even then (as the owner of active and passive basses) you have to trade the advantages of more onboard tone control with the fact that more doesn't always mean better and that you have introduced more complexity and battery changes.

    ALL new basses are fundamentally based on a 60 year old design. All the changes - even adding more strings - don't change the fundamentals much.

    Basing an assertion that you're lucky to get a sound out of it on a misguided notion that the design is obsolete backed up by your experience with a single old Fender seems completely spurious to me - or maybe you could point up some radical new technology or ideas used in your G&L ?
  20. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Well, no, it's not just you. ;) IMO there's a reason most bass players play Fender or Fender style basses, and that Rics are somewhat more "special", and I think you summed it up pretty good.

    The good thing about Rics is they are not like Fenders, and the bad thing about Rics is they are not like Fenders.

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