Rickenbacker neck question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by poorbassist15, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. So, after 6 years of waiting, I'm now in a position to buy a Rick. I have a few questions though.

    I'm looking for a thinner neck, going from Fenders to a Rick, its just a preference. Are there any years I should keep an eye out for? I'm not looking for a definitive the necks were thinner from xx-xx but just a general guide to neck shapes.

    Also, I have heard a lot of horror stories about the 4001 necks and rotosounds. I string all my basses with them and usually hit pretty hard so would a late 70s 4001 be as stable as a 4003? I intend to use it nightly, so I need something I'm not afraid I will break.

    Thanks all
  2. inthebassclef

    inthebassclef Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    So glad to hear you are going to a Rick. I love them. Here is what I can help with.
    A 4001, thin neck. May not have such a problem with Rotosounds as far as stability. However, they will likely eat your frets up. The 1970's Rick frets were not designed for steel.

    A 4003 will cope much better than a 4001. The necks are super stable. The necks on the 4003 are big though. Much bigger than a Fender neck. It is girth more than anything else. My 4003 is a 2012 and then neck is meaty. Even meatier than a P bass. Nut width is 1 & 7/8. However, really full sounding and attacks like a beast.

    4001 reissues (V63 and C64) great profile necks. Like a B width P bass, really comfortable. The necks are super stable and can handle rounds. However, the steels may still eat up your frets if you play really hard.

    Overall, your best bet is a 4003 if you can deal with the large neck. It took me a good 6 months of playing only my RIC to get really comfortable with it. However, after that time period it is actually uncomfortable when I play other basses.

    I would say go to a store around you that sells RIC's and play one for a good hour. If you are ok with the neck a newer 4003 is the way to go with the Roto's and will sound killer.

    Hope this helps and let me know if I can help in any way.
  3. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    As a Rick fanboy, I hate to say it but I've never played a 4003 that I liked. The '75 4001 I once had however... it was a thin, stable neck and took to Roto 66 just fine. No bridge problems either. The 4003's have had a much thicker neck down by the nut especially. I just don't like that.
  4. That's been my general consensus playing some old 4001s and new 4003s. The problem is they're so hard to come by, I have to drive 100 miles to try a used one. The few new ones I played, I'll be honest, I didn't like all that much.

    I think from my experience the neck on my Hondo copy is reasonably close to a 4003 and the neck kills me. It's just so wide. I really do like the new hi gains and 4001 reissues are just about as common as a Ferrari here. Scratch that, 4003's are that rare. 4001s are non existent. I feel like my choices are pretty much limited to 4003s and vintage 4001s.
  5. I'm debating trading my 72 P Bass for one but I don't think I'd ever forgive myself if I did.
  6. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Certainly a 4003 will handle whatever strings you choose, and not all 4003 necks are chunky. I have an '06 with a great thin neck. You'll have to try before you buy to make sure you like the neck profile, as there's no real definitive years for any specific shaped necks, (they're all over the place). You might also consider a 4004, which is what a modern Ric bass is all about. I quit playing 4001's and 4003's after getting my first 4004, but same issue with neck thickness. Gotta try before you buy.
  7. I'm concerned that the 4004 just doesn't have the character I expect from a Ric. That said, I've never tried one. I'll make it a point to try one when I'm looking.
  8. I found a ruby red Rick at a local store I'm going to go check out after work tomorrow. I'll report back on that one.
  9. Jeff Scott

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

    Is it Ruby or is it Red; those are two distinctly different finishes?
  10. Jeff Scott

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

    They have plenty of Rick character. I have two, both of which have the latest thinner, 2 piece necks. Previous to the current necks (which are the same as those on current 4003 models) the necks were a bit thicker, and considerably wider as you got to the heel end of the fingerboard. Try a new one if you can, I think you would find it quite comfy. :bassist:
  11. Looking at some sound demos on youtube, I am interested. They seem to have more tonal meat than a lot of the 4003's I've heard. I won't know til I play one though. Thanks for the recommendation. As to the color, I really have no idea. I'll know when I see it.
  12. loendmaestro


    Jan 15, 2004
    Vienna VA

    My 2003 is pretty chunky (but I like it). My 74 4001 is wafer thin....
  13. ngh


    Feb 6, 2013
    brooklyn, ny
    my 76 4001 has a super thin neck. too bad both truss rods are broken :crying:…
  14. Rickenbass


    Oct 14, 2013
    I was in the same exact boat as you in the early 80's. I went from playing Fender P basses to being able to afford my first used Rickenbacker. it was a mid 70's 4001 and I instantly loved the tone and the ease at which I flew up and down the neck! It was love at first sight. Alas, the love affair was short lived. My guitar tech advised me to get rid of it because the truss rods were maxed out and the neck could not longer be set to give an acceptable relief. In hindsight I wonder if the tech knew how to set a RIC "hairpin" trussrod.

    I went back to Fenders but never was able to get that perfect feel and the tone the 4001 gave me out of my head.

    Now nearly 30 years later I'm back playing music seriously and I'm knee deep in Rickenbackers!! I favor the vintage ones made in the 60's over most newer ones.

    Here is the straight gospel. the 4001 necks were not made to handle high tension strings. Back in the day a set of Rot Swing bass strings would put too much pressure on most Rickenbacker necks. Nowadays there are numerous round wound string manufacturers that offer lower tension rounds. I have round wounds an all my basses. I'm just very careful with tension values. Stainless steel strings will chew up any fret especially frets not made of stainless steel. Go with nickel strings instead if you want to use rounds. Your frets will love you for it!!

    the truss rod set up on the 4003 series basses can handle more tension with out a problem. The 4003 came out in 1980.

    Most Rickenbacker neck profiles are a shallow D profile while most Fenders are a C profile. Typically Rickenbacker necks may be wider at the nut than Fenders but the width is fairly consistent as you move toward the body. Typically Rickenbacker necks are thinner from front to back than Fenders.
  15. Rickenbass


    Oct 14, 2013
    Broken? How? If interested, I can hook you up with someone that will make you a new set of proper "hair pin" truss rods and get that Rickenbacker up and playing again!!

    It will cost you $200. give or take a few bucks!
  16. the problem is finding acceptable used ones. I feel like I'm in the Rickenbacker desert-where only Fenders exist.
  17. Rickenbass


    Oct 14, 2013
    Finding a nice used Rickenbacker hanging on the used rack at your local shop is like hitting the lottery. Great when it happens but it rarely ever happens!!

    You got yo go where they are, the Rickenbacker Resource Forum. You'll need to take a leap of faith and be OK with buying one before you play it. I've gotten some gems there and sold some gems there as well.

    What are you looking for, if you don't mind me asking? prices range quite a bit. Anything pre 1973 and you go into 3k plus territory. The further you go into the 60's the higher the price climbs. Anything 68 or earlier with a factory horseshoe pick up and you are talking 7k+. Crazy money, I know.

    A little secret for you. RIC made a run of 50 Shadow basses. All black (Jetglo) with checker board binding on the body and black neck binding. Black hardware and super thin shallow "D" profile necks. These are 4003's made in the mid to late 80's for Guitar Center. These basses all rock!! RIC got these babies right. I don't know of any Shadow owners that did not say it was one of the best Rickenbackers in their collection. The Shadow is Rickenbacker best kept secret!

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  18. A-Step-Towards

    A-Step-Towards Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Los Angeles California
    I heard the 4003's from the early 90s had thin necks, then I got a 1992 and it was much thinner then my 2011. I perfer a bigger neck so i sold the 1992 4003 and kept my 2011.
  19. Word. Fact is, Ric neck profiles are all over the map. You would have loved my Turquoise 4003 (limited COY), it had a vintage P-Bass profile. It was so different from my white 4003 (90's) that I had to sell it.
  20. I'm just looking for a good player. I would like to probably do some trading or spend less than $1500. If layaway was an option, I'd look for a tad higher but not 4001c64 kinda money. It doesn't have to be perfect, just needs to work. I do have a thing for Shadow Rics, and Tuxedo Rics, but they are pretty hard to find. I'm still leaning towards "classic" Rics. I don't want to rule a 4004 out but it'll likely be out of what I have to spend and I haven't played one to form an opinion.