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Rickenbacker Help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Steve K, Apr 3, 2015.

  1. Steve K

    Steve K

    Jun 20, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    I recently purchased a 1979 Rickenbacker 4001 and although it is a great bass, I find the E string output for the bass to be unusably low. I have read a few threads online pertaining to this issue but I still have not found a practical solution. Has anyone else experienced this problem before?

    I have not bypassed the capacitor for the bridge pickup, so I think that might add some low end and allow the E string to sound even amongst the others. If that doesn't work, I think I might have to swap out the pickups. Any other recommendations?

    Also, this is the first Rickenbacker I have ever owned so maybe it sounds like it should. Are there any Rick experts living on Vancouver Island that might be able to offer some advice?
  2. PaulBoyer

    PaulBoyer Commercial User

    Jan 27, 2012
    Well, I'm far from Vancouver, but if bypassing the .0047 microfarad capacitor (watch out: there are two .047 capacitors that you DON'T want to jump inside all that spaghetti under the pickguard), then try tilting the treble pickup up a bit on the E string side (adjusting with those big screws on either side of the pickup). Make sure the strings are new. Make sure the string isn't twisted (hard to determine that). One little trick that sometimes works is to just tweak the truss rod tightening nuts under the truss-rod cover. To do that, you should manually push the neck forward and tighten the nuts maybe a 1/4 turn, then relax the tension on the neck. Tensioning the neck sometimes moves "dead spots" around, suddenly resurrecting a dead-sounding string. Or even loosening the nuts a 1/4 turn may do it. Let us know how it goes.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  3. 254 stringer

    254 stringer Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    Have you changed the strings since you got it?
  4. Steve K

    Steve K

    Jun 20, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    I have changed the strings to a set of roundwound D'addarios and there is an evenness across the strings acoustically, but once plugged in, the E seems to get lost.
  5. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    Sometimes of the pickups are too close to the strings, it can damp the vibration... String to string sound improves with distance. The trade-off is lower output. Find the sweet spot, and that may help.

    If you like the action, recheck intonation, and make sure the strings are properly tuned. Then adjust p'up height. This is all fairly standard set-up when changing strings to something different (string tension and gauge changes).

    Of course, these suggestions presuppose the E string magnets haven't "gone south." Rick p'ups aren't cheap either!
  6. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    There are no E string magnets on those pickups (assuming the neck pickup is a correct for that era hi-gain, not a toaster), those pickups use a single rubberized bar magnet that covers all the strings at once.
  7. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Is there any way that you can post a recording of you bass?

    Rickenbacker 4001 bass have more of a trebly sound than the 4003 model. That's just the way that they are. Some love the sound and some hate the sound.
  8. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    Assuming you've already adjusted the pickups and setup the action with no success, try a set of Rickenbacker strings which are made for these instruments. They have strange gauges (three light guage and a fat E). Maybe the new strings have heavier middle strings and a relatively thinner E. This would result in a weaker signal on the E string. Just a thought. What type of rig are using? Maybe a bit of EQ would help.
  9. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Some Rics have this problem. It is interesting that when I convert a 4 string Rick into a 5 string Ric the E is great and that problem can then appear on the B string.

    Things to try:

    1 - Adjust pickup heights
    2 - bypass or remove the .0047 capacitor for the bridge pickup. This capacitor removes all bass and low mids from the bridge pickup.
    3 - roll off the volume on one of the pickups. On some Rics there can be a small amount of phase cancelation if both pickups are run at 10. This only works if the .0047 capacitor is removed or bypassed.
    4 - try a fatter E string
    5 - try newer 4003 pickups in your 4001
    6 - try a neck toaster pickup
    7 - try wiring the bass with all 250k ohm pots. A 4001 will come stock with 250k ohm volume pots and 500k ohm tone pots.
    8 - adjust the bridge
    9 - try a tapered E string
    10 - try a new set of strings
    11 - try Rickenbacker 4004 humbucker pickups
  10. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    i would change the strings again.
    i had this with a G string on my last set. for some reason it just was quiet.
    new set of strings = problem solved.

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