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Rickenbacker Tone differences.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Navybass, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Navybass


    Mar 12, 2005
    Norfolk, Va.
    Has anyone else noticed that the newer Ric 4003's sound different than the older 4001's? I know what you all are going to say: Pickup placement was different for the neck pickup, different truss rod system, that 3rd Cap in the electronics, whatever else.

    I mean that the newer Ric's sound bassier, well at least to my ears.

    Today, I decided to change the pickups in my 2002 Ric 4003. I had a set of original pickups from a 1972 Ric 4001 just lying in my parts drawer. I put them in the 2003 and WOW, what a difference it made. The bass just seemed to come alive. It sounds more like an early 70's 4001 now.

    Apparently, Ric also changed their pickup design. Maybe in the winding, maybe the magnets used. I did notice a few differences between the older pickups and the newer ones;

    1. The pole pieces on the older ones are smaller.
    2. The neck pickup is physically thinner from front to back on the older ones. The length and width are the same for both, so the older ones fit in the same hole.
    3. The material used to make the black bobbins on both the neck and bridge pickups are different from the newer ones.
    4. The portion that holds the magnet and bobbin on the old pickup is also different than the new one.
  2. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    All my experience with Rickenbackers had been with a 73 4001. I played one of the new 4003s the other week, and it is definetly ALOT bassier. Its great :D
  3. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I had a 4001 back in the mid 80's and I remember I used to always use the neck pickup only, otherwise it was just too trebly for me. I got a good sound out of just the neck pickup. On my new(er) 4003, I use both pickups and I love the sound I get, but it still has that signature Ric tone to my ears. I'm glad you like the sound you're getting now...a little surprised you didn't like it before, though.
  4. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Newer Rick pickups are indeed hotter with more windings. Typically, I think older pickups ran in the 6-8kohm range, while newer ones clock in around 11kohms. That's the tone difference right there. I once unwound a set of newer Rick pickups down to to about 7k and it did sound more "vintage."
  5. paul n

    paul n

    May 6, 2005
    Arden, NC
    Yeah, the pickups are basicaly the same just WAY hotter. I think they excede 11k these days. I love them personaly (though I really want to get a set of the HB-1's), way better than the old pickups (to me). I had a 79 4001 before I got my new 4003 and it was just too weak, I had to really hit it to get enough juice out of it. That's not an issue with the new 4003.

    ~Paul :)
  6. anyonefortennis

    anyonefortennis Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    In my mind a 4001 should sound like Paul in "Magical Mistery Tour" and a 4003 sounds like Geddy Lee in "Exit... Stage Left".

    Not sure if it's the pups, wiring, strings or what but that's the way a ric sounds in my head. (Of course, the player itself has a lot to do with how ric's sound!)
  7. throw_this_away


    Mar 30, 2006
    Yeah, I find my 4003 to be darker and more bassy than my 4001. More bite in the tone of the 4003... but than I like the sound of both, and I like the fact that each has a slightly unique voice. The 4001 is more classic chris squire.
  8. the realy new ricks have a new "vintage tone pull", so you can have both the 4003 and 4001 bass in one, cant wait untill my rick comes, should be pretty cool
  9. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    I've replaced both pickups on my 88 4003S with a Rick neck toaster and a custom scatterwound Jason Lollar horseshoe repro.

    Even before I replaced the standard high output pickups, and on an earlier mid-70's 4001 I had years ago, I've found that any Ric I play sounds better with one or the other pickup solo'd.

    For some reason, both pickups together don't quite do what I like to hear.
  10. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I feel the same way.
  11. RSchuster


    Jan 27, 2006
    Alexandria, VA
    On my '03 4003, each toggle switch position gives a completely different sound . . . I use all three, but for different things. And also, simply moving where I play the strings makes a huge difference as well. I find the best place to play with both pickups on (toggle in the middle) is right in front of the bridge pickup, whereas I play closer to the neck pickup when the bridge pickup is on, and right in the middle when the neck pickup is on. It all sounds good to me. That's why I bought it!

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