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Rickenbacker bass has weak output

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Jeb, Nov 1, 2004.


  1. Jeb

    Jeb

    Jul 22, 2001
    USA
    OK, my old Rickenbacker 4001. I have not played this bass for a long time as it had developed, what I thought was, significant fretwear. I've just had them leveled and recrowned good as new, and the luthier told me it had weak output, even with the pickups adjusted extremely close to the strings. So I gigged it that night and the signal strength was no where near what I expected (or am used to compared to my Fender Jazz bass). Balance between neck and bridge pickup seems fine and overall tone is sweet during private practice sessions, but the overall output is maybe 60% of my jazz bass when gigged with the band. The bass is 25 years old, but has been well maintained and is in very good condition. Whats going on here? Whats the remedy?
     
  2. lawndart

    lawndart

    Oct 4, 2003
    Northern NJ
    mine was the same way.....i had my guitar tech even brush out the input jack on it lowered the action and raised the pu's and it still sucked. In fact i felt that the output surged a bit. So i sold it to a friend's friend for what i paid for it. I kinda dont miss it.
     
  3. I dunno about your Rick in particular, and have never played a stock Rick and Jazz head-to-head, but it is possible for older pickups to become demagnetized and lose some of their output. I believe many techs who specialize in pickup rewinding can also re-magnetize pickups as well, but I have no personal experience with doing that kind of thing.

    Mike
     
  4. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Aurillac, France
    Having been the owner of 4 RIC's (2 4001's and 2 4003's), it actually looks like they don't all have the same output level, even with optimised (and comparable) setup.

    My first 4001 was "louder" than the second one.
    My first 4003 was "louder" than the second one.

    You can less or more "compensate" that using a preamp such as SABDDI. It will give "punch" to your tone without changing its nature. Works fine with all amps I played through.

    Hope this helps,
    JL
     
  5. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    I would suggest that you take your bass back to your luthier and have him bypass the .0047 cap that RIC wired into your bass when it was manufactured. Make sure that he only bypasses the .0047 cap and NOT either of the .047 caps.

    The .0047 capacitor reduces the output of the bridge p/u by 50%.
    You don't have to remove it, just bypass around it linking the treble position of the 3-way toggle switch to the bridge p/u.

    You will be amazed at the difference this simple modification will make the the output level of your bass.

    TD
     
  6. incubus2432

    incubus2432

    Mar 21, 2002
    Grafton, Ohio
    Just have your luthier check it out. Have have the wiring gone over and make sure the jacks are in good/clean condition. It may be possible that your jazz bass has hotter pickups and the output on your Ric is just less.
     
  7. firstbassman

    firstbassman Apples & Dirges

    Sep 6, 2004
    NYC/Northern NJ
    Wow. Finally, I find somebody else that has this problem. I was starting to question my sanity - or hearing. Nah, probably the sanity.

    I have a 1975 Rick and I noticed the same power drain lately. I've tried a bunch of things to compensate, but every time I have it looked at the bass tech looks at me like I'm nuts - it sounds fine to him. Then as soon as I pick it up with the band I have to switch to a backup bass. I guess I'll need to bring it to a real luthier and see if he can check out what's been suggested here.

    I guess getting that Sansamp looks like an even better idea now, anyway.
     
  8. Bob the Bass

    Bob the Bass

    Aug 13, 2004
    UK
  9. Jeb

    Jeb

    Jul 22, 2001
    USA
    Thanks guys, you're the best!
     
  10. firstbassman

    firstbassman Apples & Dirges

    Sep 6, 2004
    NYC/Northern NJ
    So does anybody have a recommendation of a good luthier in the NY/NJ area that has some experience with this? I'd rather not rely on phone books and bulletin board ads - that might be fine for heart surgery and all, but this is my Rick we're talking about.
     
  11. Bob the Bass

    Bob the Bass

    Aug 13, 2004
    UK
    Bypassing the .0047 cap is a doddle - I'd advocate doing it yourself -see previous post for circuit diagram :bassist:
     
  12. chris4001asat

    chris4001asat

    Dec 16, 2002
    Toledo, Ohio
    Warehouse Manager : Reverend Guitars
    I took my '80 4001 out of storage and found the same problem. After a few rehearsals, I finally figured out that the neck pickup was dead.
     
  13. Jeb

    Jeb

    Jul 22, 2001
    USA
    In reading this, to my logic, won't this just make the problem worse? After all, this says that the modification will REDUCE the output of this pickup even more. Am I missing something?
     
  14. Walbassman

    Walbassman

    Nov 27, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    the capacitor is holding BACK the output. I just removed a cap from a 1980 4003 yesterday and it cranked the output to the hilt. I ran the jumper wire and it changed the overall tone of the back pickup. Suddenly, the bass became growly and 'narly...
     
  15. Jeb

    Jeb

    Jul 22, 2001
    USA
    OK, OK, I get it now. It was late when I posted that last one and after re-reading I understand my misunderstanding. I'm going to look into getting this mod done as I'm not comfortable doing it myself at this point.

    But if I change this, is there maybe another issue that will come about? Am I hurting anything? Why is this capacitor there in the first place if it hinders output? Certainly it must serve some useful purpose?

    The bass is pretty growly already and I'd describe it as having a certain "vintage nasal quality," it really rings. Its just not nearly as "hot" as my other instruments. Thanks again.
     
  16. Walbassman

    Walbassman

    Nov 27, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    It will get hotter or more growly...That is what I have noticed playing mine after doing the mod. It does not hurt anything. It is like wiring a pickup directly to the output. It is much cleaner that way...Try it you might like it!!!
     
  17. Bob the Bass

    Bob the Bass

    Aug 13, 2004
    UK
    Read my previous quote with the link to the schematic ... the .0047 cap is replaced by a shunt on later models - so bypassing it is in effect a Rickenbacker approved mod ... just do it!!
     
  18. If I read that schematic right, I believe that .0047 cap is a "treble bleed" cap. In other words, when you turn down the volume past a certain point, your tone retains the brighness of a wide open pot.
     
  19. Jeb

    Jeb

    Jul 22, 2001
    USA
    OK, I looked at it and it isn't as complex as I thought. Yes, I'm gonna give the 0047 the ol' heave ho on my own. How would you bypass it? I'm thinking just take it out and solder a little stint of phone wire in its place. Hows that sound?