the Rickenbacker 4003 sound...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by konfusion17, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. konfusion17


    Apr 26, 2004
    Ever since I saw the rickenbacker 4003 bass its captured my awe. I've always wanted to play one but it turns out they are kinda rare around my house. So I was wondering if anyone could describe how it sounds, plays, and what kind of music its best suited for.

    I'm in the market for a new bass actually and I cant stop thinking about rics. I plan on finding one and seeing how I like it before anything, but im wondering if it would sound good in my band. We are an indie/post-hardcore band and I'm really looking for a unique sound.

    Any information or comments would be greatly appreciated.
  2. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Rics have a distinctive sound, that's for sure. Think Chris Squire of Yes, or Geddy Lee on Exit Stage Left. A definite growl with a bite. I think of my Ric as being like a Rottweiler. Not the most comfortable bass I've ever played (though it's fairly easy to play), but it's sturdy, has quite a "bark" (t's able to stand up and be noticed), has never let me down, and has considerable attitude.

    It's not very well suited for slapping. But put some fresh strings on it, and it can give you an aggressive, almost "angry" tone that's somewhat unique. :D You won't mistake it for a Jazz bass, which is why I'm getting a Jazz bass, for versatility.

    It's tough to describe a Ric. As with any bass, you really need to play one to see if you like the feel and tone. :)

    I'm never selling my Ric, personally. It was my first bass, and no other bass I've played captures its tone, which I like.
  3. Listen to ace of spades and tom sawyer to get the sound (those are 4001's but they sound very similer), you'll have to play one to get the feel. People have made rics sound great in all kinds of different music.
  4. Calypool slaps a Ric on Gov't Mule's Deepest End CD/DVD...sounds pretty good but it is Les.
  5. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Well, all I can really say is that my Rick has been my #1 for over 12 years despite other basses making threatening moves at its throne over the years. ;) It just fits me like its an extention of my own body. And the neck on that thing never moves. I set it up with low action and I think I've adjusted the truss rods out of necessity maybe twice in 12 years (three times if I count the time when I briefly went to some heavier strings as an experiment). Once in a while I'll have to tweak the bridge height screws a little, but never more than an 8th of a turn either way.
  6. :eek: Your first bass was a Ric?

    :crying: Damn... what a starter. I had an Australian Pawn-shop Onyx bass...

    Im also kinda entranced by the rics, I love the sound the guy from the Cure pulls outta his ric, sounds awesome. though its VERY hard to see one for sale, used or otherwise, so theres virtually no chance of trying one out. In portugal anyway.
  7. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I was an early Geddy-worshippper. Early for me, less so for him. I discovered him in about 1981, and I wanted THAT tone. I had owned a craptacular Beatle-bass copy by Ventura. And I had had a Fender Precision that belonged to my High School. It was their bribe to keep me in the school Jazz Band. Then I needed ANY workable bass at first. I got a then-popular Peavey T40. It had a distinctive tone, but not one that spoke to me. It weighed a ton and a half. The neck was not very fast, except compared to my Ventura. It was crap too. So at that point I had been a bassist for three or four years and had played a total of one quality basses, and I had to give that one back when I graduated.

    Then I found a '79 JetGlo Ric 4003 in a pawnshop. For $185. :hyper:

    That wasn't even a hard decision to make. It was my main bass for a couple of years, with assorted less noble backups, until I found a Univox-made Ric copy in a different pawnshop. It actually cost about as much as the real Ric. I bought it to be the backup to the real Ric...and it became my main bass, with the Ric as backup! Until American Airlines destroyed it I never played a gig without both of them. I still miss the Univox.
  8. alansan


    Mar 12, 2004
    Dublin, Ireland
    Although I thought I would never look back I am thinkinig of replacing the 4003 I sold last year. I have other basses that are better built with advanced electronics and ergonomics to match, but there is certainly a Rick vibe and uniqueness that I havn't felt on any other bass. Such as:

    - Aggressive lower end with a contrasting mellow sound higher up the neck

    - Longer sustain from the neck-through construction

    - A bias towards the mid-high range frequency notes with the pickups

    - Very different sounds depending where you pluck (slapping is no problem)

    - Built like a tank

    Ideally I'd love a white Rick with black hardware...
  9. I been playin Ric's for twenty years as my main bass with a short stint on a Fender jazz special fretless.YES you can slap a Ric..It just takes some adjustment to your technique,some can do it easily,some have to work at it,but enough on that...I read somewhere(here I think)someone desribing the sound of a Ric w\roundwound strings as"playing piano with a hammer"..I think that just about sums it up,espically the Chris Squire sound.Then theres the sound of sir Pual,he uses flats and gets a big ,fat,round sound..listen to the Beatles magical mystery tour and later recordings(including the Wings recordings)..then theres Lemmy,pure overdriven sonic assault that will melt your face off,but he did modify his Ric's to some extent..and for another example theres Mike Messaros(sp?) of the Smithereens(sp?)..the list goes on,check out the Ric forum,theres a link here somewhere on another Ric thread if you do a search..
  10. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    I finally bought a 4001 a couple of years ago. I've always wanted one since high school when I would stare at pictures of Roger Glover while listening to my Deep Purple albums. Geddy Lee too. In the video of the Exit... Stage Left tour there's an opening shot where you can see a white Rick with black pickguard (might actually be a double-neck - even better!) - only for a second but it awakened some kind of insatiable yearning...

    So anyway, I finally ended up with an autumnglo 4001. It is definitely my favorite bass. Took a little getting used to - there's not really anyplace to anchor your thumb when playing fingerstyle (I learned to just rest it on the pickguard), and the neck by the nut is really chunky - I know that turns some people off but doesn't bother me. Mine's older (1976) - the older pickups are pretty low-gain, but nothing a preamp can't help.

    A lot of people will say that there's a "Rick sound", but I'm of the opinion that a lot of sounds can be had from it. Just the neck pick up is deep yet biting, while both pickups give a broader rounder sound more like a Jazz bass with both pickups on full. And as someone else mentioned, altering where and how you attack the strings makes a big difference.

    I've got it on a couple of tracks here - "Is Free - Take One" is a mellower standard kind of bass sound, and "Theme from Hieronymous" has an old Boss T-Wah and Budda Phatbass distortion.

    I say try one - I doubt you'll be disappointed!
  11. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Rics have always been my favorite basses. They were very popular when I started playing and are making a comeback as far as popular artists using them.
  12. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Yeah, you can slap on 'em. I slap on mine with no problems. I guess it can get a little getting used to, with the neck pickup where it is and with the string spacing. I love Ricks. They're a traditional, timeless design, yet after all these decades, they're still just a little different.
  13. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I was 19 and in college when I got my Ric as my first bass -- I had played sax for about 8 years and decided it was time for a change. Got addicted to Rush, and wanted to play like Geddy, so in 1987 caught the bass-playing bug. I went down to the local music store and they had a used black 4003 for $400. Seeing this a sign of Providence, I bought it and have never regretted the decision. If I hadn't bought it, I would have blown the cash on beer or something anyway. My Ric is currently being tuned up to perfection by a master luthier as a personal favor, and I miss it. :(
  14. This thread turned into a discussion of how "slappable" Rics are. I don't think a bassist in a post-punk band is too worried about that. Anyway, original poster, I am in the same boat as you, as far as having thought Rics are cool looking and playing post-punk stuff. I finally got to play one, though, and it just didn't feel or sound right for me. But I play kind of weird for post-punk stuff: I use my fingers and play mostly fast, modal lines (I guess that's what you call it. That's what somebody told me). The problems I had with the Ric: the neck pickup is really uncomfortable as a thumbrest, the one I played (it was a 4001, I'm not sure how much of a difference there is), didn't have nearly as much growl as my aluminum neck Kramer w/Barts, I didn't like the way the bass felt while I stood and played with it. The neck and the string action were really nice, though. I imagine that if you play with a pick, as most good indie/postpunk bass players do, the problems I mentioned will be nonissues.

    Oh, yeah, I hear that you can only slap with a Ric if you're Les claypool, or something... ;)
  15. I don't know if this is derailing the thread too much but how do the 4003's compare to the 4004 Cheyenne ii? I love the Ric sound but the 4003's are somewhat uncomfortable, as stated by boognish. The 4004 seem more comfortable, but do they have the sound in them? Seeing as they have humbuckers instead of single coils I expect some differnence. Anyone out there have any experience?
  16. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    While I've never played one myself (someday I hope!), from what I've heard from bassists who own them say the tone is similar, but they're not quite as bright and a little thicker, yes because of the humbuckers. But I guess if you're handy with a soldering iron you could always split the coils on them. ;)

    And they are more ergonomic. No binding, thus no edge on the top of the body that can dig into your forearm. And no bridge pickup cover weirdness (I love how that cover looks, but it gets in my way and thus I keep mine off).
  17. 00soul


    Jan 4, 2005
    seal beach, ca

    yeah, the first few days i had my ric i wanted to return it because i couldnt find a decent place to anchor my thumb. i ended up taking off the pick-up cover and using the adjustment screw for a thumb rest. since then i havent picked up another bass and now trips to the music store leave me gas free

  18. Wrong.

    Geddy used his 74' Jazz bass on all of Moving Pictures.
  19. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    I have been playing Rics for many, many years. Started out on the 4001 and ended up with this midnight blue 4003:


    As many have pointed out here, Rics have a sound all their own. They also take a little getting used to. I would personally recommend that before you make a final decision, try one out and see if it "fits" you. I can promise you one thing, however. Most folks who play Rics wouldn't give theirs up for anything! Good luck to you!
  20. pdusen


    Aug 18, 2004
    I read that the Rick neck is different from most necks. How is this?

    I currently use an Ibanez GSR200. It is 41mm wide at the nut, which I don't mind at all. What bothers me is how insanely wide it gets down toward the body.

    Would a rick 4003 Neck feel better for me? I don't care too much how thick the neck is, it's width that concerns me.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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