Rickenbacker......older vs. todays???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sleevey55, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. sleevey55

    sleevey55 Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Billings Montana
    Have been thinking of buying a Ric now for a week or so, but I am wondering if I need to be looking at certain years or are they all (4001/4003 models) going to sound essentially the same and have the same quality? I think I can get a 2012 4003 Maple Glow traded to me, but dont know if I should look for an older one (70's or around then)? Any advice would be great!
  2. Aside from some finishing issues in 2011, I think it is a general consensus among Rickenbacker owners that the current generation 4003 basses are the best ones ever made, unless you have a strong preference for some vintage or aesthetic feature that has been discontinued (such as the switch from Bubinga to Chechen fingerboards).
  3. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Quality is pretty consistent over the years, but neck size has varied and since about 2006 or so, the 4003 offers a push/pull tone pot that allows for the vintage 4001 sound and the current 4003 sound. Ricks tend to hold value if kept clean and original, so you'll likely pay a premium for a 4001 and even some early 4003s.

    Truss rod adjustment on a 4001 requires a special (but not difficult) approach, so you'd need to be clear about that. If you can get a 2012 Maple Glo, it could well be a great acquisition. Necks have generally been relatively thin over the past few years (I don't really care about neck size, having played guitar and double bass over the years), if you care about that.
  4. .
    I own an old 4001.

    I wish I owned a modern 4003.
    They're a better bass IMO.
  5. 254 stringer

    254 stringer

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    I haven't played an older rick but my 2012 MG is an awesome bass. eny6ezuz.
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    The new ones are great basses.

    The older ones can be broken by simply adjusting the neck incorrectly
  7. bassmachine2112


    Mar 23, 2008
    I would get a new one.
    I,ve had mine since 99 added the push/pull switch,hipshot bridge.Still looking for a d-tuner but we,ve written the story so far together.
    If the new ones are as good as my 99 then they are good.
  8. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    I don't think you gain anything but maybe aesthetic features by buying an old one.
  9. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    The old truss rod system does require putting tension on the neck before you tighten them but they are more stable than the newer style once adjusted .

    Anything after 84 will have the newer style rods .

    Go for that 2012 Mapleglo .
  10. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    4003 ftw, without question.
  11. New +1.

    I've had both - my 2013 4003 can do the same as my old '77 4001, but with the benefit of modern parts and reliability!

    Don't forget the new ones have the vintage tone selector - so if you ever want the bass-less, period-correct '01 tone with the cap in place (though I'm not sure if you ever would!), you can have that too.

    For me, a modern 4003 gives me the proper Ric tone.
  12. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I know nothing about Rickenbackers and don't own one nor do I ever plan to buy one....but I've played several vintage ones and several new ones and the new ones blow the vintage away. They just sound better, in my humble, largely ignorance based opinion.
  13. Rickenbass


    Oct 14, 2013
    Newer and older Rickenbackers are two different animals. For a more "idiot proof" instrument, if there is such a thing, I'd stick with a newer 4003. If you are not very handy and don't like to screw with your basses the newer 4003 is a safer purchase. If you can't put your hands on an older 4001 and actually inspect it or play it, the newer 4003 is a safer purchase. If you don't know a whole lot about older Rickenbackers and how they operate and what their idiosyncrasies are, a newer 4003 is a safer purchase.

    Here's my disclaimer. I like certain 4001 basses better. I like the hairpin truss rod system, the long pole toaster sound, the checker board binding, and the real magnetic horseshoe pick ups. I do own a few 4003's that are simply awesome. My 1986 Shadow is one but even that one can't touch my 1965 4001 in sound or feel.

    The foto is proof that I have a bit invested in the brand and my words are backed up by action and not just air. Missing fromt he foto is my 2011 Jetglo drop D 4003.


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  14. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada
    Greetings from the South,

    I owned 3 4001's in the 70's & 80's. I did mess around with the pickups a bit on two of them but as they say hindsight is 20/20 lol. They were well made and very sturdy.

    All were strung with Roto Round Wounds or Tapes. Each one was selected out of a batch on delivery day at the original Gus Zoppi's or Massamino's music stores in Detroit. I selected for slim necks & sound and from all the neck issues on TB I've heard about I was fortunate.

    I've played modern 4003's and I found their necks were too chunky for me. Sound was a bit different too but still Ric. Maybe in the next few years if I come across a slim dotted neck 4000, 4001 or 4005 I'll take it home. The newer thicker neck Rics aren't for me.

  15. PaulBoyer

    PaulBoyer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 27, 2012

    Correction: Make that after 1985.
  16. sleevey55

    sleevey55 Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Billings Montana
    Ok guys..........great info. Tell me, whats the Horshoe pickups you are referring too? What is a "long pole toaster"???
  17. Rickenbass


    Oct 14, 2013
    The horseshoe treble pup is/was two magnets bent in the shape of a "U". The two magnetic "U"'s were then mounded to an aluminum plat, open ends facing one another with a wound bobbin with 4 pole pieces in it. The magnetic "U"'s or horsehoes as they are called, created a magnetic field that enabled the bobbin to pick up the vibration from the stings and viola! The electric pick up was created!! A guy by the name of George Beauchamp invented it ans formed a company with Adolph Rickenbacher. This company became Rickenbacker in later years. The horseshoe pick up was used in basses in the late 1950's into 1968. It is partly responsible the growly tone of Chris Squire and many other notible early Rickenbacker bass players.

    The toaster pick up is the neck pick up on 60's and early 70's basses and looks like a toaster with it's slots. The long pole toaster was used in the 60's and 70's up to 1973 on both Rickenbacker guitars and basses.

    A foto is worth a thousand words. You won't easily find a real horsie equipped bass for under 7k. They are snapped up pretty fast by collectors. Basses with real toasted are a little easier to find.


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  18. antonspon


    Mar 27, 2013
    I have two 4001's, a '73 and an '81, both awesome to play and sound great, build quality on the '73 is marginally better than the '81. Yes, the trussrods are a pain to adjust, but once set they don't seem to need further attention (my necks have remained stable for the last 20 years!). I've tried some new 4003's in stores - the necks seem a bit thicker, but still a great bass. However, two of the ones I tried had misaligned strings (not in line with polepieces and visibly skew across the neck) due to bridges being slightly out of line, so it's worth checking. That issue aside, I'd love to add a new 4003 to my collection...
  19. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    I had a 77 4001, 04 4003 and an 07 4003. That 07 was the best of all of them, and they were all different. It was a great machine.
  20. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Regarding the horseshoe pickups; I've never owned or played a bass with an original HS (with magnetized shoes). But my Dec '72 came with a Lollar reissue HS that was not to my liking at all. The string to string output was very poorly matched and when digging in (which I invariably do, especially on a Rick), the PU farted out terribly.

    So, I replaced it with a RIC reissue HS about two years ago. Same problems. I sought out a period-correct '72 high-gain with surround and I added the push-pull pot so I could get the vintage 4001 tone (which most people tend to dislike because they get fixated on the bassier 4003 tone) and the modern 4003 tone. That '72 high-gain is perfect and works well with the original toaster.