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Rickenbacker Basses: Early 70's 4001? or are they built better today?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Juicyanalog, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. (I'm sure there's 1000 threads on this.. and please feel free to guide me towards them...)

    I owned a 1968 Rick (4001 model) for over 20 years... ImageUploadedByTalkBass1377585006.647690. and while the tone was all "a-la Chris Squire", I found it very difficult to appreciate that bass, in the 20+ years that I owned it,.. In reality, that Neck gave me nothing but problems.. If I was to purchase another Rickenbacker Bass, Do I shell out a lot of bucks for an early 70s 4001 model? Or can someone enlighten me about the newer 4003 models.. I'm just as concerned with "Build" as I am with the Authenticity of the 4001 tone, due to the "Notorious Neck Situation" on those late 60s early 70s 4001s.. I heard some of the new 4003 models have a "push-pull" circuit to emulate the 4001 in the 4003... All suggestions are welcome. Thank you
  2. The neck on the new 2013 basses are very thick. Try one befor you get it. I got a 4003 that was made in 1993. The necks that year were like your old 4001, which to me plays like a dream. There is a Rickenbacker Fourm that may be very helpful to you.
  3. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I wouldn't go there and post you ever had a problem with a Ric or that they're anything less than perfect unless you want to be shunned. The official Ric forum isn't what I'd call helpful.

    Example: I wanted a lightweight case or gig bag so I did some searching on their site and prevalent was the "never use anything but a Ric case" answer. They'd rather treat anything non Ric as crap rather than consider options. Eff them. I took mine to a shop and tried different cases before settling on a Gator foam rectangular case.

    There are Ric experts here on TB that don't have Ric basses wedged so far up their backsides the tuners click against their teeth when they talk.

    What was the notorious problem you had with the neck? Needed frequent adjustments? Couldn't be made straight? Did it have a twist? As a '68 was it a neck-through?

    I've owned 3 4001s and hated all 3 of them for multiple reasons, now I have a '73 4000 and love the way it plays and am not aware of any neck problems. Sure there's a little buzz, but I like fairly low action so this is present on all of my basses.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I played a 1968 4001 for 35 years .... It was a cool bass and also a flawed bass.

    I grew tired of the weak neck and weak pickups and the cumbersome bridge and the horseshoe pickup cover.

    It was really pretty ...


    Then I get a 73 4001 and it had a better neck and better pickups and I rewired it with all 250k ohm pots and no .0047 capacitor. It was a good gigging bass.

    Then I got a 1989 4003s5 and it was even better than the 73.


    Now I play modded 4004 basses


    If you are going to buy a Ric ... then yes the old 70s 4001 basses are fine but the new 4003 basses are better.
  5. Brelic


    Jun 26, 2011
    East Coast, Canada
    I have a 4003 (2011 model), and have not had any problems with it. Mind you, it's only 2 years old, but that's my only experience with a Ric.

    I've never owned or played a vintage Ric, so I can't comment on the authenticity of the push-pull knob... but it does sound nice in the up position. I tend to prefer that mode, actually. It removes much of the low end and has a nice 1970s Geddy Lee midrange growl to it when using the bridge PUs.
  6. Brelic


    Jun 26, 2011
    East Coast, Canada
    Wow, that's a great looking Ric! And a 5-string to boot!
  7. magicd


    Aug 12, 2013
    I bought my 4001 new at Mannys in 1976. Paid $400.00 ($40.00 extra for the natural maple finish).

    I've had the truss rods adjusted once since then (about 30 years ago). The neck remains perfect.

    It's a little battle worn but still all-original.

    Absolutely love this bass. Signed by Chris Squire.


  8. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I've owned a '76 and '77 4001, an '85, '99, and '06 4003, as well as an '08 4004Cii. The ONLY one that gave me trouble was the "76. BUT, the only one I still play is the 4004. They're a little harder to find, but well worth the effort. It's what a modern Ric bass is all about.
  9. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Thanks ...

    Here's another one of my modded 4004 basses ...

  10. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Did you carve the forearm or did it come that way?
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    All of the 4004 basses are nice and rounded on the edges, but the early 4004 basses have a nice cut for the forearm. Like this 1998 one here.

  12. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
  13. For a short while, I owned both a 72 & 78.

    72 I bought new..Burgundy-glo..checked binding.

    78 I bought used..so different, I nearly thought was a fake, but confirmed as real.

    I prefer the early 70's over the 78..no experience with models any newer.

    As it always bothered me about weak output, I had the cap clipped on the bridge pup of my 72. Instantly equalized output....lost the 'extreme' treble tone was gone though.

    Sadly..shortly after purchase of 78.. my precious 72 was stolen from car at Lennox Square shopping center around 1984.... I would love to have her back..no questions asked. Checked binding Burgundy-glo 4001-s. Hand painted case had a 'flying unicorn', 'moon and stars'. I would know MY scratches and dings as well as how, when where I put them...

    From pics in this thread, I can appreciate the newer Rics with sculpted edges, as both 72 & 78 cut a thrench in my forearm after a short while of playing.

    Some may say I have improper right arm position/ technique, but my 99 Am. Stand. Fender P. being fully contoured is far more comy in that regard.

    Long story short ..either go for early 70's or very contemporary models.
  14. OH..I removed the 'horsehoe' pup cover over bridge pup on my 72.
  15. woodyng


    Dec 19, 2007
    Oregon coast
    To the OP,whether or not to get a new RIC vs an older one could just depend upon how much work and $$ you want to get into. Pricing on 70's 4001,80's-90's 4003,and even new 4003/4004's are not all that far apart. With the newest basses,the 2 piece neck profile is rounded,a bit more c shaped,and reasonably thin. i think some of the older profiles are more shallow and a bit more d shaped. The profiles have changed quite a lot from year to year. With a used bass,you may be looking at refret or possible other repairs. I own a 74 4000 that has had a good deal of work done to it,but i really love it for having the old clanky Squire sound. I have 2 more modern ('04) basses,a laredo,and a Cii,that sound really great,are top quality,and give me a lot of tonal variety to choose from. I played one of the new ruby 4003's,as well as a couple of brand new cii's and personally i would go for a new one-unless you're looking for the classic "gank" sound,the new ones to me are smoother sounding. The good thing is resale is usually no problem,and if you get a new one from a good dealer,you have a trial period,too.
  16. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    New 4003s are built very sturdy.
    The newer necks can stand a lot of tension with no issues.

    I have a couple of mid 1970s basses, and the necks are strong enough and stable, but my 2010 4003 is easily a better built unit.
    Except for the bridge/tailpiece, which is essentially the same as the old ones with the added tendency to have wobbly saddles (an easy fix, but still annoying).
  17. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    I have a late '73 Rick (see my avatar) and it's a fantastic bass, my favorite Rick, however it does have some quirks.

    It has a really nice and thin neck, but it does not like high tensions strings. Luckily for me, I like using lighter strings, so it works out.

    The newer Ricks I've played and owned definitely felt more solid, but the necks are chunky.
  18. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    As far as quality of construction, ease of adjustment, and characteristics and versatility of tone, the new 4003's are the best the company has ever made. They have adjustable pole pieces so that they can be raised for a more percussive tone as some 4001's, especially those with first generation high-gain pickups, or lowered to get more meat, like the neck toasters of the old basses.

    All necks are different. It's what you get used to. The '76 4001 I used to own had a thin neck. My 4002 neck is meaty. The basses of friends I have worked on over the years have varied from 1 5/8 to just over 1 11/16, and from thin to thick, and all combinations therein.

    The newer truss rod system, started in the mid-80's is easier to adjust than the old rods. It sounds like someone torqued your old rods instead of the setting-and-tightening routine we all used to have to do, and which I still do on my 4002.

    The new basses do have a bypass push pull switch incorporated into the neck pickup volume knob that will allow a player to either have the .0047 inline capacitor to the bridge pickup in or bypassed at will, further increasing tonal versatility.

    Moreover, as set forth above by one of the experts, Ric5, there is now the alternative 4004 model with humbucking pickups that is a fine bass.

    Go play some new ones and see what you think.

    And no, we're not ideologs. The folks at the RIC factory forum and the RickResource enthusiasts forum are real people who understand. There are a few who have strong opinions, but nothing like here on TalkBass. I encourage you to join and introduce yourself.

    And if you do find that after all these years you and your bass must part ways, as I did on my '76 4001, you will find some appreciative folk who will purchase it from you for what it is actually worth as it sits.
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    You can rewire the 4004 vvt like a jazz bass and put in one or two single coil pickups. Then it sound more like a 4001.
  20. thank you all for these very helpful responses

    i bought that Rick in the late 80's for about $900+...and preceded to invest around $1500 into it over 20 years, just to make it playable
    (that's what happens when we're young and impulsive..'That Rick' was a Bad Deal..)

    the ongoing problem that i had with that '68 Rick, was that somewhere along the line before i owned it,
    the Dual Trust Rod System (which was not my favorite design to begin with,) was probably abused/ruined by an incompetent owner or Tech.
    It suffered from constant Neck Rattle, & loss of sustain, due to the resonant frequencies of that rattle..

    i put up with that bass for 20+ years, all for the Tone it Had
    (think: that first note slide from C to F of "Yes - Harold Land"...my '68 Rick, Nailed it!)
    but there was never a "solidity" when i played it

    i also couldn't intonate the damn thing due to that Bridge...

    {the Neck/Intonation situation on that Bass got so Bad,
    that 3 really good Techs that i had used, didn't want to touch the bloody thing anymore...}

    as far as getting rid of it & selling it?
    ....lol, well, i did, & i didn't...here's the abridged story...

    Kept it on top of a wall unit In a hard case..
    Was cleaning That area...
    I accidentally knocked Into it..
    Case fell, and failed,
    and the neck cracked into pieces...
    I stared down, (for what felt like 10 minutes) in horror of what happened,
    got my composure,
    Then proceeded to take off and save all the hardware and electronics..
    (yup, i would LOOOOVE now, to find a 'Gutted' 70's 4001 Neck/Body..)
    Threw all the wood (along with those broken trust rods) in the garbage...{yes i did :smug:}
    That was over three years ago and it's water under the bridge...