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Roundwounds on a Rick?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by firstbassman, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. firstbassman

    firstbassman Apples & Dirges

    Sep 6, 2004
    NYC/Northern NJ
    I've always used flatwounds on my old-school 4001 - I remember long ago hearing that roundwounds would damage it somehow. Why they'd damage a Rick more than anything else is a mystery, as it's not a tender bird by any stretch, but I digress.

    So, is there any inherent problem with using roundwounds on a Rick?
  2. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    I'm just guessing here, but the thing about the roundwound being too high tension might have something to do with the fact that the only rounds available back then (someone said) were Rotos, which are generally stiff strings. You should be fine I think, but I'm probably not one to ask.
  3. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    I have heard the same thing, specifically, a friend of mine who only plays Ricks (he has four 4001's) told me that he was told that you could put rounds on 4003's, but they would damage the necks of 4001's. Of course he heard this after having rounds on his for about 10 years so he couldn't understand it, just like it sounds to me like it would defy logic. I'm no expert on Rick's, but I'll trust my friend's 20+ years of personal experience before I took anybody else's word for it. But if I were buying a new Rick and considering rounds I would probably check directly with Rick to see what they had to say.
  4. John Hall (Ric's owner and CEO) said this about old 4001's and roundwounds.

    "The string tension of a round wound string, especially a nearly
    pure iron string like those in the Roto Sound class, is almost 100lbs. greater than a typical flat wound string.
    The 4001 neck was designed in 1956 for the only type of strings
    available then . . . flat wound . . . and since the design favored
    a slim neck, the neck strength was right on the edge of the
    envelope. Round wound strings took many of these instruments
    beyond their rated capability for string tension, resulting in
    various problems.
    But of course there are many types of strings,
    not to mention that every piece of wood is different, so plenty of 4001's have been used with round wound strings for decades with no ill effect.
  5. firstbassman

    firstbassman Apples & Dirges

    Sep 6, 2004
    NYC/Northern NJ
    LajoieT and B'Aces High, you were both quite astute. Go directly to the source! Bloody genius, I tell ya.

    Here's what Jay from Rickenbacker customer service had to say about the subject:

    "The older 4001 strings had tapewound strings, like a flatwound light
    guage type. We do recommend that you use a lighter guage string on those because of the truss rod system. Our current guage of 45 55 75 105 is a round wound string, if you stay within that range it should be alright."
  6. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I have a 4001 right here from 1974 that has rounds on it, plays great (needs a new bridge, but that's due to something else)
  7. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    These people at Rickenbacker are just plain goofy. The thing that makes 4001 necks go crazy isn't the type of string, it's the tension of the string! Flatwound, Roundwound, it doesn't matter, but if you put heavy guage, high tension strings on a Rick, you could cause problems, and the reason you can't use higher tension strings, is because of that insanely crappy truss rod system!! I've NEVER had a problem with the neck on my 4001, but take off the nameplate on a 4001 and look at the arrangement; it's an absolute joke!... The load of the trussods bears down right on the weakest part of the neck! Tighten down those rods too much and POP! you'll crack the headstock or delam the fingerboard. If Rick would have gone with a single truss rod like the Fenders of the period, they would have had a much better reputation! Also, look at the guage of the Roundwounds that come on the 4003! ...45, 55, 75, 105!!! That's the goofiest bass string set I've ever seen! NOBODY sells a set like that except Rickenbacker!! It's obvious they want more tension projected toward the outer edges of the fingerboard rather than down the middle!!! Now why do you think that would be? They're just acknowledging that their trussrod system STILL stinks!!!
    I love my 4001, but the stuff that Hall says sometimes is comedy!!! They should have changed their trussrod system years ago, they they could have kept the nice slim feel of the 4001 neck rather than the FATSO 4003 neck, which I totally dislike; some people may prefer it, not me....

  8. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    >>> No, but go light! 40-95, or 40-100. Those sets work great on a 4001.
  9. Walbassman


    Nov 27, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    I use either 40-95 or 45-105 on all of my Ricks.
  10. great info here guys thanks for sharing
  11. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    I've had Roto66 (45 - 105) on my '74 4001 ever since I bought it in '87. No probs.
  12. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Round Wounds since 1977 on mine, no problems at all.
  13. gauge?
  14. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Usually 100's, up to 105's. Many different brands over the years. The real trick is to know how to adjust the trussrods. On an older Ric, you shouldn't move the neck with the trussrod, you should flex the neck and snug the trussrods to that position. Most problems where from people who didn't know this.
  15. rickfan63


    Dec 5, 2006
    The truss rod system on Ricks dosen't stink! I've played Ricks on and off for 30 years, and the system works fine if you know how to use it. The old 4001 rods were designed to work with low tension flats due to the thin neck. Some (as mine) did fine with rounds, others didn't. They changed the system to allow for use of rounds (or any type of bass string for that matter) without issues. I've had flats, rounds, and groundwounds on my current Ricks and have had no problems. My current 4003's neck is totally straight, and I use only silght relief on my V63 and C64. My thin neck 1989 V63 had to have a neck repair done when I bought it used, because some moron, who didn't bother to learn how to care for a Rick bass properly, messed it up. This clown obviously didn't know how to adjust a bass period. It now works fine and is quite strong and I've played it in all types of climates. Which is a example to the quality of wood Rickenbacker uses. Now, I wouldn't use really heavy guage strings on one, but I wouldn't do THAT on my old Fender Jazz, for instance, either. I use light to medium guage strings on all my basses. Every bass has it's pros and cons. A Rickenbacker bass does what it does and it does it very well IMO.
  16. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I've owned a couple of '70s Rickenbacker 4001s, and used nothing but medium-gauge (.045-.065-.085-.105) nickel roundwounds. Did all my own truss rod adjustments too. Never had a problem with either of them.

    I haven't owned a 4003, but understand they're built for greater strength and stability. Still, I would never play anything heavier than medium gauge strings on any bass - but particularly not a Rickenbacker.

    I know that a lot of cats love that dark, subdued tone of a Rick with flatwounds. But for me, a Rickenbacker has always been about that sparkle, zing, ring and cut. If I owned a Rick right now, I'd probably string it with a set of extra light-gauge stainless steels - in .035-.055-.075-.095 - and play 'em with a pick... :cool:

  17. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    I think the thing is, if you have a 1960's or 70's Rick that's been played by a rock player in the last 30 years, it's probably had rounds on it with the higher tension at some point if not constantly. Necks that couldn't tolerate the higher tension gave up the ghost decades ago, and necks that can are still in good shape. My 1973 Rick was immediately strung with rounds the day I got it, although to keep from having to re-do the frets I have tended towards ground-off or flattened windings. I used to love the Rotosounds, but I don't fancy having my vintage Rick re-fretted a whole lot, and the sound I get out of DR hi-beams is quite nice.
  18. Interesting thread!
    I have Rotosound nickle round wounds on my 4001V64 with no problems what so ever.
    And that brings me to a question I have recently been thinking about.
    What does Rick use on their Basses when they ship them?
    Anyone know?
  19. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    They use their own Rickenbacker brand of strings - nickel roundwounds, I believe. Not sure of the gauge. Don't know who manufactures them either. But they're definitely Rickenbacker strings...

  20. 2001-Ps


    Dec 31, 2007
    Quebec, Canada
    I use DR Sunbeams 45-100 on a few late 70s 4001. Low tension on the neck & a beautifull combination sound wise...E. Ball strings are also a good choice as they are low tension...A while back I bought a 76 4001 with a slight crack at the headstock. She had a thin neck and was always set up (by the previous owner) with Rotos 45-105...So I figured these were possibly too much high tension for a thin RIC neck...