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Rickenbacker tone without ludicrous prices?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SabbathWorship, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. SabbathWorship


    Feb 27, 2019
    I love that Rickenbacker tone but I just don't have that type of cash. Are there any less expensive basses that sound like a Rickenbacker?
    zon6c-f, misslynn909 and Erik herman like this.
  2. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    What ludicrous prices? Yeah, some of the custom factory one-offs are way up there, but prices of the stock models are completely in line with those of other USA made instruments by the likes of Fender, EBMM, etc.

    One may have caviar taste (yuck, to me :roflmao:) but only have spam-in-a-can budget, but that doesn't mean one should knock what they, personally can't afford. Unless, of course, the asking price really is way out of line, say, for example, a pair of well used, still smelly sneakers worn by Magic Johnson, for $100,000.
    bobyoung53, ruju, MattZilla and 15 others like this.
  3. J Gold

    J Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    2 grand give or take is not at all ludicrous. Perhaps a used one in decent condition? But most of those are 12-1500 anyway.
  4. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    It can't be done. No manufacturer is making basses with the right features to get the job done.

    Somebody will suggest a Fender Jazz and a Sansamp with the treble dimed. Just say no!
  5. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Peavey T-40 is supposed to get close.. I don’t know how close in reality.
  6. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    From video demos I have seen/listened to, eh, sort of, kind of, maybe, if one isn't listening too hard.
    byoung93888, FRoss6788 and knumbskull like this.
  7. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Consider a good used 4003 of recent model year. Around a grand maybe?

    4003S models can be had for $1400 new and 4003 models for $1700 perhaps? There are deals to be had with places like Musicians Friend and Wildwood. There’s the master Rick thread here where some of the members are up on all the steps needed to seek out the best price using dealer bonus points, etc., etc.

    The Rickenbacker Club Part Twelve
  8. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida
    I only paid $1200 and change for a brand new 4003SW walnut from Musician’s Friend. Had a 20% off coupon.
  9. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    The fact that you can't afford something doesn't make the price ludicrous. I can't afford a Mercedes S class. It doesn't mean the price is ludicrous. ;)

    Buy used and shop carefully.
  10. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    I've been feverishly saving up for my dream Ferrari. Going by my current rate, I should have just enough about 20 years after I'm dead.
  11. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    Depending on which Rickenbacker tone you are after (there is more than one) then you might find elements of the tone elsewhere. I was being flippant before, but I've never heard a Jazz Bass tone that passed for a Rickenbacker. I've heard a bright Rotosound-y roundwound-y tone that some think is the Rickenbacker tone (Greg Lake on early ELP cuts is sometimes cited).

    That neck pickup on a 4003 is down near the end of the fretboard. The pickup in a $99 Epiphone EB-0 is in the same place! It won't sound the same, but a pickup hovering under the virtual 24th fret picks up a heap of fundamental while other harmonic overtones are pretty much absent. @Ric5 has done the most work of anybody in wringing Rickenbacker tones out of other platforms.

    The maple in a 4003 bass goes some way into making the tone unique as well. From personal experience (feel free to write this off if you don't buy into tonewood), the maple gives the bass a nice solid bass response, a mid scoop, then lots of trebly overtones. The pickups in a 4003 are in good positions to make the most of this. The 'bridge' pickup is pretty close to where the pickup is on a P bass; it isn't down at the bridge saddles at all.

    I got a passable Rickenbacker neck pickup tone with a Godin Shifter bass (in the neck pickup position) with fresh Rotosound strings:


    ...but it had the ergonomics of a chunky, overweight Fender bass...

    And I got a reasonable neck pickup tone from this Burns bass:


    ...but it was badly built...

    A few basses have a true neck pickup. Fewer of them have sizzly single coil pickups rather than something fatter sounding. Even fewer of them aren't shortscale. Find a 34'' bass with a single coil pickup in the neck position and a certain element of Rickenbacker neck pickup tone can be found.

    I think if I had to summarise the ingredients for Rickenbacker tone:

    1. Pickup positions (neck and middle, no true bridge pickup).
    2. Pickup type (single coils, not heaps of output, generally).
    3. Maple construction - my Rickenbacker sounds like a Rickenbacker unplugged. If you put your ear to the wood and pluck a note you hear a solid fundamental and that crushed-glass treble content as well.
    4. Neck-thru construction
    5. 33 1/4'' scale length (the strings are a wee bit more rubbery than on a 34'' bass).
    6. Circuitry, if you have the 4.7 nF capacitor in there.
    7. You already have a set idea of what you want: Al Cisneros in Sleep, Geddy on 2112, Chris Squire on Fragile or Paul McCartney on the White Album.
    With regards to point 7, who buys a Rickenbacker because they want a blank canvas bass to woodshed on? Who buys one because they had All The World's A Stage on vinyl when they were 12?

    The thing that I've noticed is that Rickenbacker tone doesn't always happen the way you think it should. You make a P bass growl by playing it a certain way, which you become comfortable with. Pure P bass technique doesn't always work on these guys, and Rick basses almost self-limit. The harder you play them the louder they go 'brang!' beyond a certain point.They don't get louder as such, the tone simply changes. What you would write off as ugly fret buzz on another bass actually sounds decent on a 4003.
    TH63, ICM, lucas303 and 11 others like this.
  12. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    Ovation Magnum
    Fender Jazz
    Peavey T-40

    Take your pick & EQ / tone seek to taste! :bassist:
    hardtop, Sean150, Spidey2112 and 3 others like this.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I was researching the T40 a few months back, and I believe I remember reading about a trick that involves rotating the bridge pickup 180 degrees to get the sound closer to a Ric. Course you also have to know which position to put all the switches in.
  14. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the closest comparison (to my ears) are Guild B-302 and X-702.
    jmlee and Guzzi Toad like this.
  15. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    I've heard Peavey foundations referred to as a poor mans ric.

    I've got 1 4003 and about 8 foundations... The poor mans part is right... as for being a Rickenbacker tone... I think the ear can be fooled into believing it.
    SteveHeissner and ctmullins like this.
  16. I have yet to get my hands on one but for less than half the price of a used Rick you can get a line 6 variax bass, rickenbacker is one of the sampled basses it replicates. I think they are really cool and will be getting one someday.
  17. Lammchop93

    Lammchop93 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    I think a jazz can be close with the right EQ.
    Wilmingtonian and Tony In Philly like this.
  18. higain617


    Sep 12, 2013
    I think you want both in single coil mode. They get pretty close, but aren’t the real thing. Gibson did a Grabber 3 reissue several years ago that supposedly got there.

    I think I may pull the trigger on a Ric soon.
  19. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    So, what have we learned?
    1) What someone considers ludicrous, someone else considers reasonable.
    2) Half a dozen basses come close to getting the Rickenbacker tone.
    3) Nothing really gets the Ric tone.

    Other than that, I like the McCartney Ric tone and people are still arguing if he's using the Ric or the Hofner or even a Jazz on quite a few Beatles songs.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  20. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    It's the most "bang for the buck" bass out there. I love mine!

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