Some Rickenbacker 4003 questions

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Dec 14, 2015.


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  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Just got a brand new Rickenbacker, from Musiciansfriend. I have some concerns and would like to hear people's thoughts and opinions.

    First, I've been hearing a lot about these things being heavy. Mine isn't, and that makes me happy. I don't have a scale but it feels under 9 lbs to me.

    What I'm NOT happy about is that I have the bridge all the way down, and the action isn't all that great. It's not horrible, but it's definitely higher than my all my other basses. And I can tell it has some room to go before there would be even a hint of a buzz on the neck.

    There is a very slight bow in the neck too, and I've read that these necks should be dead straight. All my basses are pretty much dead straight anyway, so I went to make the adjustments. Lo and behold, I wasn't given the wrench to do that with. Case candy had 2 allen wrenches, a cloth, sticker, and maintenance manual. This kind of thing always leads me t believe that it is in fact a musiciansfriend return from someone else... though I'm pretty good at pinning those out, and all else on this bass seemed pretty new. The box was an original Ric box (or so it seems) and was heavy duty stapled shut, with no extra tape.

    So... the questions...

    Is there any way to drop the action past it's lowest point that I don't know about?
    Is there a chance that taking a wee bit of bow out of the neck (I'm talking maybe a half turn's worth at best) will significantly lower the action?
    Is the action on a Ric generally lower than what I'm getting here?
    Is there a chance that Rickenbacker neglected to include a wrench for the truss rods?
    Should I call MF and tell them the action is simply not right on this thing, and have them send me another?

    One of the things that's starting to get really annoying with my purchases from those guys is that the first instrument I recieve often has flaws of some sort. My last 2 purchases that happened. An American Strat that had a busted tone control (didn't work at all). And an Ibanez Talman, with a busted tuner. I also had a Highway One once with a pickup that didn't work.

    What to do. Help me out here boys and girls. Thanks.
     
  2. Tbone76, S-Bigbottom and Joe Nerve like this.
  3. 254 stringer

    254 stringer Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    Ok probably not a return. Ricks ship with a high nut so the customer can set it up to their liking. Also ric doesn't include the tool to adjust the truss rods. Send it back and buy from Wildwood they will set it up for you and it will play great right out of the box.
     
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  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    The nut -not the bridge- would cause high action? If what you say is accurate, I am going to be VERY MUCH in love with this bass. It's awesome in every way thus far, except for the action. Bridge is totally flat, and there's still a ways to go on both sides. If it remains the way it is, I don't want it. If I can get the action to match my other basses, I've a feeling I'll never let this thing go.

    Also, I have 2 guys I'm playing with now that are pretty much the top guitar tech guys in my area. Rather than return this, I'd pass it along to them.
     
  5. 254 stringer

    254 stringer Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    I don't think it will be a problem getting low action it just needs a good setup. Ricks kinda have a reputation for leaving the factory with a terrible setup if you know some techs let them see why they can do. Mine has super low action and the rods have no problem getting the neck straight also since there are two rods it seems small adjustments make a big difference in relief.
     
  6. 254 stringer

    254 stringer Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    image.jpeg Also I have a cheap(like maybe $5) tool kit my wife bought me at Kohls that has a T-handle 1/4 screwdriver bit set. The tool with no bits works perfect. The tool looks like that^
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
    Mr. Sound and foolforthecity like this.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Sorry to keep harping on this, but I want to get/be clear :). Though I never set up a Ric, I always set up all my basses and have been doing it for 30 years. I can get all my basses to exactly how I want them to be, but thus far not this. When you say they have a rep for leaving the factory with a lousy setup, do you mean it usually just needs a slight neck adjustment, and lowering of the saddles? Or do you mean it needs a heavy duty setup, from a pro - where things will need to be filed and stuff like that? I guess I'm just trying to clarify that I'm not a newbie saying a bass sucks because it came from the factory with high action. I buy basses all the time that come to me almost unplayable, and I set them up as soon as I get them.
     
  8. 254 stringer

    254 stringer Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    I can't say personally how much work mine needed but the most common issue I have seen is high nut and no tool for the rods. Occasionally I will see that someone needs to file a saddle. The fretwork seem to be good and I have rarely seen posts of any new basses needing leveling of high frets.
     
    Joe Nerve likes this.
  9. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    From the factory, the nut on a Rickenbacker if often (always?) too high. But that will really only be significant when fretting at the first couple of frets. They pertinent question is how much relief is there in the neck now? There have been plenty of arguments about whether a Ric neck should be truly straight, but you should be able to get it there regardless. So my advice is to get a proper tool to adjust the truss rod, get the neck truly flat, then see where you are at. Or better yet, get a good tech to set it up - they should deal with the nut as part of the setup and the whole thing should play well with moderately low action. If not, it's a dud and should be returned. Explain this all to your tech if you go that route so that nothing is done to the instrument that would void the warranty.
     
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  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    The action isn't horrible. But it's much lower on my other basses. I've a feeling this ta going to be fine with a neck adjustment. The rest of the bass is great.
     
  11. Winterglo

    Winterglo

    Aug 29, 2015
    Ilinois
    I used to set up my own basses before I got a Ric. Now I take it to the best Techs I can find. The double truss rod thing and I don't want to make a mistake. Pay the bucks, have a good pro do it for you. Unless you are very confident in your own skills. I think it's a truss rod adjustment and maybe the nut needs filing to your taste. Congrats on the Ricky.
     
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I keep saying this, and I will say it again. Nut height is not a matter of taste. For any given bass there is one height that is right, regardless of the player. Everything else is less than optimum. Assuming a properly adjusted neck without issues, if the clearance at the first fret on an open string is greater than the clearance at the second fret when fretting the first, it's just too high. Why would anyone want the bass to be inconsistent between frets one and two? There's no advantage. Of course if there is less clearance than as described, the open string will more likely buzz than one that's fretted. So there is only one height that is optimum.

    I would make allowance for a tiny bit extra height at the nut to allow for the eventual wear of the nut slots. But that's a compromise.

    Makes me wonder about all those adjustable nuts out there. What's the point?
     
  13. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    The point is to part people from their money, not everyone has integrity.
     
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I went today to my neighborhood guy (for the wrench), who I haven't seen in years and felt I kinda owed a visit. He strongly advised me to take it to him, explaining that Rics are in fact quite a different animal due to the 2X truss rod, and the fact that the neck runs all the way through. He said he's seen basses where it can be off way down the neck, and it's best if I let him adjust it, check it out, and then decide if the nut needs to worked with at all. Said he could tell me too if it was a bass with issues that I might want to return. I trust him, as he's done lots of work for me throughout my life. Gonna bring it there tomorrow afternoon.

    I trust him too cuz he was immediately able to show me the wrench that does the job :). Says he uses it only on Rics, and I think maybe Epiphones? I forgot. Anyway, doctors appt for Rickenbacker, 4:30PM tomorrow. I'm excited. The bass is kinda OK as is, but just a little to high for what I'm used to. I've a good feeling it's going to be fine.
     
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  15. MtJam

    MtJam

    Jan 14, 2009
    Maryland
    I think your bass will be fine once it visits the doctor!

    I bought one of those midnight blue Rics when MF was blowing them out a few years ago and, sure enough, it was unplayable out of the box. Took it to my local guy, and all was well after that. He fixed that super-high nut and adjusted the neck just right for me.

    The bass looked and sounded great! It's unfortunate there are so many similar stories out there. However, I think you will enjoy your Ric once it's set up to your liking.

    Enjoy!

    P.S. I ended up selling mine, but I have considered getting another one! Guess I should have kept it.
     
    Joe Nerve likes this.
  16. foolforthecity

    foolforthecity Supporting Member

    Hey Joe, don't know your situation with tools and stuff, but in my case I ran down to Sears and got a 1/4" nut driver for $6, then ground the outside of it down to thin the wall of it and it works great! Something else for the old toolbox.

    Edit: and I just stepped back in the thread a bit and saw 254 stringer's kit, which has the T-handle 1/4" drive, which is a great idea and has other uses as well
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
    Joe Nerve likes this.
  17. hintz

    hintz

    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    I know your having someone look at your Ric, but this vid might help you for future reference:)
     
  18. BigBobbyBass

    BigBobbyBass

    Jan 23, 2015
    For that kind of money, and the nut is to high? No way, no how.
     
  19. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    That kinda creeped me out a bit. He turns those rods like he's putting a screw in or something. What happened to the ol quarter of a turn then see what happens?

    I'm going to be nuts watching this guy play with my neck now tomorrow. Feel like I need a Rick specialist, which he might, or I hope actually he might be. Jeez. I never adjusted a truss rod the way that guy did in that video. I go more than a quarter turn when I know it's necessary, but I never went full turns like he's doing.
     
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  20. hintz

    hintz

    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    Yeah, I was kinda freaked watching this too!! I never knew what went into adjusting a Ric( though I've owned 2) until I read some threads here and watched that video!!

    Apparently this is the way its done with these, so you have to loosen both truss rods, physically move the neck straight and then tighten while holding the neck where you want it! I never would've guessed it was done this way as I always paid someone else to do this!! LOL

    Even so, id feel more comfortable paying a real pro to do this:) BTW, I found the link for that video here on TB and the description matches what I read so I'm assuming that's the correct way, but someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!!:)
     
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