1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Rickenbacker sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by chris h, Aug 31, 2002.

  1. chris h

    chris h Guest

    Jun 16, 2002
    Oxford, England
    Can someone please try to describe the sound of a rickenbacker bass? Im not very clued up on these basses but think they look pretty cool, and I fancy a change from fenders! (no disregard to fender of course)

    Any good for clean sounds (i.e NOT lemmy)
    Accomidating for thumbstyle?
    Record well?
    Also, whats the deal with the pickups? how are they configured/placed etc?

    Forgive me for being a bit vague...:)
  2. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    You can get clean, driven or overdriven sounds from a Rick.

    Not that much. Not very comfortable for that, but that's just my opinion. My credo is that Rickenbacker basses are essentially made for being played with a pick. But Geddy Lee, i.e., fingering his Rick, shows another point of view...

    Sure, but it mostly depends the way you record : gear, skill, recorder you use, etc.

    Not that much. Essentially a pop/rock bass, IMHO.

    2 single coils. Any picture of any 4001/4003 shows where they are placed.

    Personal experience : after 25 years playing Ricks (on and off), I finally changed and now play a Status. Much more versatile, FWIW.

    Hope this helps,

    All the best,
  3. chris h

    chris h Guest

    Jun 16, 2002
    Oxford, England
    Thanks for the help. They just look cool. im coming down with GAS :(
  4. Rics have a big, round bottom, and zingy, trebly punch. Very distinctive! Nothing else like it... Here's a list of stuff to listen to featuring the Rickenbacker sound in all it's variations:
    The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (Dig "Penny Lane").
    Yes: Almost everything...
    Bachman-Turner Overdrive: All of it.
    Rush: Up to Signals. Esp dig Caress of Steel- "Lakeside Park"!
    The Jam: Lots of early stuff, like Snap!
    The Smithereens: 11.
    The Vapors' big hit: "Turning Japanese".
    That's a pretty good selection to get you hip to the Ric thing.

  5. Yup! My favourite Rick tone is both single coil pickups wide open, with a rather thin pick just down from the treble pickup, a bit towards the tailpiece. Good fundamental, punchy midrange, cuts like a knife without sounding too offensive.

    If you mean slapping, they're not too easy - the string spacing is considerably closer than a Fender. However, through the right rig, a Rick slapped can sound amazing - you've just got to be quite precise. As for just playing with your thumb, you can get some deep, round dub bass sounds by thumbing up by the neck pickup.

    Ricks can sit great in a track, but as jaylanb pointed out, it really depends on how you record them. They don't DI particularly well, and your room has to be very free of any noise the pickups could pick up to get a noise-free signal. They also sound best through tube gear.

    Though many say they're only good for rock/pop, I find I can get some rather nice fusion/jazz tones out of it, it really depends on how you play. I find my particular Rick to be more responsive to changes in playing style than the average one, so YMMV.

    Two single coils, wired parallel, and they're wound in the same direction, unlike on a Jazz where the two pickups are wired in opposite directions for noise cancelling when the volume is cranked on both pickups.

  6. I would say IMHO that the Ric's are not a good choice for thumb/slap style.
    Jaylanb is correct about the pickstyle tone though, This is where they really excel and the midrange punchiness they have is what does it I believe.

    PS: Chris, how close are you to Purton, Swindon?
  7. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    I happen to like my strings close space and can slap on them fine, but unless you have the right preamps and such, the sound can be less then great....kind of has that Flea zingy to it if you ask me....don't know why he doesn't play a Rick besides the string spacing issue.
  8. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    I have a few things to add to my previous comments.

    Chris H : if you want a good bass for slap and clean tones, I guess you should avoid Rickenbackers. They seduce many bass players because of their beautiful design and their very specific tone, but they are not good basses for slap.

    You also must know there is something disturbing with Ricks : even when setup correctly, Rickenbacker basses are not well balanced from one string to another. This is specific to recent Rickenbackers (4003's essentially). This means the E string is MUCH louder than the others and sounds a bit muddy, and the D and G string sound pretty weak. In fact, the A string is the best sounding of all.

    At last, you must know that many 4003 users experienced problems with neck stability during the first two years of owning. Necks often warp during this lap of time, then they normally get steady.

    In conclusion, I'd say if you want a great bass for slap and clean tones, you should look in another direction. There are many awesome basses in an affordable price range : Status (used), Warwick (affordable at least in Europe), Groove Tools (yes, they do 4-stringers !), and even some Yamaha or Ibanez basses. All of them have a very different feel from Fender's, but I keep on believing that for what you want, you can't be wrong with a Fender.

    Hope this helps,

    All the best,
  9. Jaylandb... so you are implying that it's better to get an older used 4001? Should 4003's be avoided?

    BTW Mike Mills of REM used a Rick during the 80s most of the time. Mike Mezaros is Smithereens bassist and still uses Ricks. Bruce Foxton played the Rick with The Jam but later moved to Fender (sounds like he has one on "The Gift") and the Epiphone Rivoli.

    I'd like to test a Rick 4001 someday if I could...
  10. I would not say Roundabout is representative of the average Rick tone - he doubled that with one of Steve Howe's Gibson hollowbody guitars.

  11. I agree totally - if you can figure out the right equpiment and have the precision with your thumb, they can sound killer slapped - that piano-ringey bottom end is sort of Wooten-esque!

  12. Jean, I know you had some terrible 4003 experiences. I hope that's not the norm - I absoutely love my 4003. The AD and G strings sound EXTREMELY EVEN all the way up and down the neck - I've never heard a bass with more "body" in the upper registers, it really kicks butt up there. The E is a little quieter (I play without compression and compensate by hitting that string a little harder), but a little compression would take care of this), and does sound a little different, but I don't find it unpleasant whatsoever.

    As for neck stability, I did something horrible to my Rick neck and it's held up so far... I went from Roto RS66LA's to TI EB-344 Powerbass (a HUGE jump in guage and tension!) in one day, I cranked the crap out of the rods in that one day to compensate, and the neck has thus far (about a month) survived just fine and is staying put very well, and I am very critical of my action...

    YMMV i guess, but I have no complaints with my 4003JG, which I have owned since February. I hope that won't change over the years.

  13. chris h

    chris h Guest

    Jun 16, 2002
    Oxford, England
    Thanks for all your comments. I already have a two basses that cover everything I want, but was mainly just curious about the rickenbacker. Your'e right, they are seductive because of the different look etc.

    Do I live near swindon? Kind of, but not really(!) why?

    Also, from looking at pictures of them, the neck seems to be a fairly constant width from head to body. is this true, or just a visual illusion?!

    I am going to the 'Music live' show in november, and will strive to put some time in with one..

    Thanks again everyone
  14. Hi Chris,

    I asked about Swindon because my "Babe" lives in Purton and she's been after me to buy a, er, well that turquois color that they make the Ric 4003's in. LSS is that I'll be there in Jan. and will have that one with me.
  15. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    As Jeff said, it is possible that my opinion about 4003's is dependent on the bad experience I had. But I must say other 4003 players I know experienced the same.

    However, I indeed would recommend a used 4001, for one reason : a 15 or 20 year old bass that kept steady will never cause bad surprises, unless you mistreat it...

    Hope this helps,
  16. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    Actually the loudest string on my Rick is the D...the EAG are very even...Thats not unusual for basses though. A early 90's Musicman Stingray I had, had a loudass E string.
  17. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    I have a 2001 4003 and it is outstanding. The build quality is uncompromised. I had it set up and it is perfect. I don't notice any string deviation. I am very, very happy with it and the joy of owning a shiny new RIC has been such a kick in the pants. So don't rule a new one out.
  18. My wife just kicked me in the pants and let me tell you, it didn't feel so good...

  19. MorganM


    Dec 11, 1999
    I just ordered my new JetGlo 4003. But it doesn't ship until 9/30!!!!

Share This Page