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Sell Me On Getting a Rickenbacker...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Motorhead Mark, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. Greetings All:

    I am looking for help here with regards to Rickenbackers bass guitars. I am a Fender player, but am looking to expand my arsenal and have been looking at the Rics...but I know nothing about them...

    So, could some of you Ric players pass along some advice with what I should be looking for when buying a bass. I know the obvious, but are some models better than others? Did they have a bad production year...etc etc...

    What are the differences between Fender and Ric's (besides the obvious body) I am currently using a Geddy Lee sig series bass...so what would be different with parts. ie necks, weight, balance, sound, tone, ease of control use etc etc etc...4003 better than 4004 etc ????

    So all you Ric bass players, time to brag about your bass and convince me too go buy one.
  2. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    Well, sir, all I can do is relate MY experiences with Rickenbackers. I have played them since the days of the 4001 (about 20-25 years now). I was out of playing for a number of years and upon returning, immediately bought a brand new 4003 (May 2001 production date). Rics are a different breed of animal. You will find the folks either love them or hate them. There is usually no middle ground there. I now own several basses (including Fender Jazz basses) but I would never dream of getting rid of my Ric! To me, it perfectly compliments the J-Bass sound. It is really nice to be able to switch off and get a totally different sound with the Ric and, as you know, they have a sound all their own!

    Should you buy one? I don't know. The only sure fire way to find out is to play one every chance you get and then make your decision. I haven't played the 4004, but the main differences (as I understand it) between the 4001 and the 4003 is better P/U's on the 4003 and the truss rod system is different. And, I might point out that the Ric uses a "double truss rod" and some of the guys who have attempted to adjust them have found them to be a nightmare. Me? I take mine to the shop and let those guys worry about it! I'm kind of a wuse when it comes to monkeying around with my guitars...hehe...Does the Ric feel like a Jazz? No. It feels like no other bass. That's why my recommendation is to "try it before you buy it!" Oh, and good luck and happy hunting!
  3. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

  4. Out of my 3 i will sell you a grand total of none! :D

    Ok...all joking aside...Id like to repeat what Embellisher said...there is literally a TON of info in the Ric megathread.

    My own comments are basically this...
    If you are planning on buying a used 4001 series..inspect the neck carefully..frets, bows, cracks..all the usual. Early Ric necks sometimes had problems.
    The newer necks are supposed to be stronger on all the basses.
    As for best years? There are none..every year is a good year for Ric. They are known to have excellent consistancy and quality control. But be weary of their customer service..i hear its far from good..but chances are you wont even have to deal with them. I have talked to many people who will say their Rics are playable right out of the box.(Aside from tuning of course ;))
    I wouldnt say any of the models are better than others...the 4004L and CII have humbuckers which would give you a different tone than that of the 4003's. If your looking for that classic tone..you would be best going for a 4003. But even then some people say they are a bit different to this day and that the pickups are wound tighter which gives a slightly different sound then the "classic Ric sound" everyone talks about.
    I find that Rics are about the same weight as a Pbass. Sometimes a bit heavier. Balance is excellent. Its only 33 1/4 scale...so its not too long..no neck dive at all. Controls are very easy..2 tones, 2 volumes (self explanitory). The necks are also not tapered as much towards the neck as say a Jazz or P bass..so that might be different for you...but i find the neck not as thick as a P, but not as thin as a J..somewhere in between.
    If you wanna hear a 4003 in action...go here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=136153
    This thread is of fourmite Acacia and his Motorhead tribute band...you will hear a Ric cutting through..just like a Ric should. Rics cut through like butta!
    The last piece of advice i can give! Find a Ric it stock someplace! Cause if you order one..expect to wait 9 months give or take a few months to recieve it. Ive had a fretless Ric 4003 on order since March..and there is no signs of it showing anytime soon.
    I agree with RandallFlagg..they arent for everyone...its best to seek one out and give her a whirl.
    There is also a Ric forum here..that has ton of info...and nothing but Ric players...also a good resource. http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/mccorp/framespage.html
    Good luck!
  5. 4string4ever

    4string4ever Guest

    Apr 18, 2004
    Orlando, Florida
    Being a new Ric owner, I can only tell you this. I just got my Ric on Saturday, and it's phenominal. The sound, the tone, the playability. Having been a Jazz bass player for many years, I am having some difficulty adjusting to my thumb placement on my plucking hand, but that being the only obstacle for me to overcome, I couldn't be happier.
  6. lawndart


    Oct 4, 2003
    Northern NJ
    I used to have an early 80s 4001. Whats so different sounding on a 4004? Its got humbucking PUs i know that but since you've played both i was curious what you think. No place around by me has a 4004 to play at least ive never seen one. Also does the 4004 have dual truss rods like my old 4001?
  7. I've always played Fenders until I bought a new 4003 about six months ago and I've barely picked up either Fender ( P and J ) since.

    Like others have said, it does come down to personal preference, but to me the ric is ideal.

    The main pro for me is the playing position. I rest my thumb on the pickup, and I find the P's pickup is too far forward and the J's is too close to the bridge, but the Ric is perfect when resting my thumb on the pickup cover ( I left it on, some people take it off )

    The neck is absolutely phenomenal, the best I've ever played and I haven't touched the setup. It was spot on straight out of the box.

    The quality and finish is also 100%. I can't fault it.

    The only small drawback is the sound. Although the Ric has a great sound of it's own, sometimes I miss the grunt of a Precision, but I do find that the Ric cuts through the mix better right across all four strings.
  8. Bob the Bass

    Bob the Bass

    Aug 13, 2004
    Having played a Shergold custom for years, then a Peavey, I always dreamed of owning a Ric - they are difficult to get hold of in the UK!
    Bought a 4003 brand new last year - for me it plays like a dream, but I know other bassists who hate Rics !!
    They are NOT cheap, so I would suggest you try one out first, but DEFINITELY go for a new 4003 as opposed to second hand 4001
    In my opinion the 4003 is best bass money can buy !!:bassist:
  9. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    my rickenbacker sounded fantastic as long as you could use that sound in your music... in the right setting, nothing but a Rickenbacker will do!

    In my experience, they seem to demand a lot of space in the mix, and you need to be cranked far louder than everyone else to be heard, wheras my Fenders seem to find a place even if there's a lot of other stuff going on...

    I always used to hurt my right forearm on the sharp body edge, and while playing with a pick, would frequently bash and cut my fingers on the big metal 'treble' pickup cover

    I also think they're pretty expensive for what they are... and the price of a 4003 in the UK has gone up in the last 10 years from about £700 to about £1200 :(

    otherwise... whoah baby!! they're unique..there are fewer finer sounds in bassdom than a cranked Rickenbacker bass clanking away!
  10. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    That's funny, in the 60's we in America assumed they were made in the UK.
    I have 3 Ric basses, they're all keepers. My faves.
  11. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    I used to anchor the tip of my thumb on the little screw-head on the upper part of the bridge pup ring, the one toward the neck, sorta pointing inwards. Over the years it just sort of gravitated to that point. Then I saw a video of Geddy and he had this thumb exactly there. It's a good middle point since the Rick can vary quite a bit in tone depending on where you pluck the string.
  12. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Mark, did you uh, ever get one?

    Anyhow, I had a couple of extra comments that came to mind regarding the Rick 4001 I had.

    I had a lefty model and played it from 1980 till it got stolen in 2002. I never really had any problems with it except that I had to really undercut the 4th string's saddle in order to make it move back far enough to intonate. It was really hanging off the back there.

    Years later (2001 or so) I found, according to some guys at the Rickenbacker Forum, that there were a bunch of 4001s (or a run of them) that had their bridges misplaced by about a quarter of an inch. It's not something you notice just by looking at it, and because, I guess, I was a lefty and used to doing weird things to intonate righty guitars, I didn't think much of it. I was just about to take the bridge and plate off when the thing got stolen.

    The later models I assume don't have this problem, and the 4001s apparently only had a batch of them go out that way.

    As mentioned, the double trus rod thing is a complete nightmare, but since you're getting a later model it won't be. They've - I think - adopted a more 'normal' trus rod system.

    Another thing that bugged me about the 4001 was access to the adjustment screws on the bridge - the ones that make the saddles move. It's incredibly hard on the 4001s to get a screw driver in there unless you use an 'L' shaped driver, and even then, the way the screw holes are threaded on both sides, what you're doing when you turn the screw is actually just tightening it into the bridge, not so much moving the saddle. The screw will only go in so far before it's tight front-to-back, and that's it. It was probably an oversight on Rickenbacker's part to not have the screwholes unthreaded.

    And an interesting thing about the bridge -- having taken it out completely in order to visually set the intonation -- was that, with all that chrome hardware around the bridge and bridge pup and tailpiece, the actual bridge sits on two allen screws. That's fine really, allens are great. But when I took mine out the first time I was amazed to find that the ends of the screws, parts that you would think were turning in, or at least attached to, some metallic part of that massive looking bridge, was instead pressing down onto bare wood. The string pressure and adjustments over the years had made the ends of the screws bore into the wood a little bit, and that would've been fine since I was planning on relocating the bridge anyhow, but it was so interesting to find that the famous 'clank' tone was coming from bridge that was planted in bare wood!

    Anyhow, I completely agree with all the comments above: the Rick is a singular beast. It has its sound, and it's a good sound, but it has to be 'your' sound. I personally love the sound but having played the 4001 for 20 years or so, and then having it stolen, I went onto other things. For me, and this is just personally, if I somehow retrieved my Rick, I'd clean it up, string it and use it, but if not (of which it is certain by now), I wouldn't go out and get another one.

    If you look up the Rickenbacker forum though, there's lots of posts about the 4000 series as well as all the other Ricks that have come out.

    Best regards.
  13. 4string4ever

    4string4ever Guest

    Apr 18, 2004
    Orlando, Florida
    That is the very spot I have gravitated to. The screw head is too small to anchor my thumb, so I took the screw out, cut a rectangular piece of clear plexiglass, and epoxied it on the ends, where it would touch the pup ring on one end and the pick guard on the other. Perfect thumbrest.
  14. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Good job!

    That is the only place to play though. I tried the "McCartney thing" and had the thumb on the side of the neck beyond the neck pup but wow! They don't tell you about how subsonic a Rick can get. Everybody always talks about their 'clank' metallic sound, but there's some beautiful lows in there too. I guess that's why some guys split the pups and go bi-amp.

    You know, I take back what I said previously: I WOULD get another -- but a brand new one without all the problems. There's just that tone you know? I've got 'the other McCartney' sound in my Turser Beatle bass, but it would be nice to have a Rick again. Maybe put flatwounds on it this time.
  15. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I had a black 4003 (late 80's early 90's). I bought it used. The bassist before me replaced the bridge with a badass 2 and the pickups with Seymour Duncan rick replacement humbuckers. I guess it would sound more like the 4004s. Regardless...the Absolute best 4 string I've ever played, heard or saw. The neck was THE most comfortable 4 string neck I've ever played. The tone was Rick sounding but with more bottom end. I'm really looking forward to the 4004Cii 5 string.

    As stated before...play one first...they aren't for everyone. NOTHING plays, feels or sounds like a Ric and that's a good thing.