The Rickenbacker Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by By-Tor, May 24, 2001.

  1. By-Tor


    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Can anyone enlighten me on the 4001 and 4003 basses. What are the differences etc. I'm looking for another 4-string and am considering the Ric. What is the neck like?
  2. Jon Pomplin

    Jon Pomplin

    Mar 23, 2001
    I own a 1980 Rick 4001, black. I have played several 4001's and 4003's over the years and have found that each one has a personality all it's own. However, in comparison I personally feel the 4001's are a much better instrument that the 4003's. It just seems to me that there is something missing in the 4003's. The neck doesn't have the same feel. I suggest that if you want to buy a new one, get one of the V63 reissues or the Chris Squire model. Otherwise, find a good used one and play the crap out of it before you purchase. Listen for rattles in the neck, a good sign one of the 2 truss rods are broken (Had mine dropped 3 days after I got it and had to be sent back to Rickenbacker for repair. Turns out it played even better after that).
    Be careful of non-standard tunings, it can throw off the intonation. Have it strobed if you plan to play non-standard and ever few years it is a good idea. You should never have to mess with the truss rods, once they are set, they should be cool. Always have a certified luthier look at any used guitar (trim frets, set truss, action, electronics etc).

    I used the Rick on 3 tracks on the Project 814 CD "DECLASSIFIED". There is a sound the rick gets, especially when played with a pick that just can't be matched. It truly "sings". You can check out examples from the CD on the media page on the Project 814 website The tracks with Rick parts are Catamaran Tack (bass lead part), 5 and 1 and Episode 69 (funky octave parts). Remember that real audio is crappy quality, it sounds better right from the CD.

    (Shameless plug) - You can get a copy of the CD online through a secured ordering system at:
    Cellar Records (US and CANADA addresses)
    CD BABY (Planet Earth addresses)

    Jon Pomplin
    PROJECT 814
  3. By-Tor


    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks for the ton of info.

    I checked out the clips, NICE!
  4. 5not4


    Sep 7, 2000
    Flint, MI
    I had read a while ago that the 4001's couldn't take the string tension of roundwounds and would void the warranty. The 4003's were made to accept the increased tension of roundwounds.

    Can anyone confirm this?
  5. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    This is correct. The 4001 was never intended to have round wound strings on it. Remember, back in 1959 when the first 4000 was designed and made, round wound bass strings didn't exist. The 4001 came a couple of years later and everything was pretty much the same as the 4000 except for the obvious.

    Rickenbacker was using soft metal rods (2) back then as truss rods. And they did a great job of supporting the tension of flat wound strings. With the popularization of round wound strings during the 70's Rickenbacker knew that they had to make some changes to the rod system if their basses were going to support the extra string/neck tension created by round wound strings and to keep their basses popular with bassplayers around the world.

    So in the early 80's the truss rod system was improved to support round wound strings. To distinguish the difference between the new and the old style, the 4001 was renamed the 4003. They were originally identical except for the improved truss rod system. However over the past 20 years the 4003 has gone through some minor changes that visually are not apparent, but there have been changes just the same in pick-ups and neck dimensions.

    Rickenbacker factory supplied every 4001 with flat wound strings. And during the 70's sold only flat wound strings as replacements. If you put round wounds on your 4001 you were on your own if you had any problems, or you dealt with the store that you bought the bass from to see if they could fix the problem (most could and would to keep their customers happy).

    When the 4003 arrived it came factory equipped with round wound strings as standard and still do to this day.

    I personally own a 1972 4001. I used Ric flat wounds on it for the first 10 yrs then switched to round wound strings on it for the past 19 years without having any neck problems. But i've only ever used light or med-light gauge strings on it. I would never put medium gauge or heavier round wounds on it. To me it's just not worth the risk.
  6. By-Tor


    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Some valuable info here.

  7. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    I recently got interested in Ricks and while I can't get one right now I did find a web forum devoted to them (much like the GbL for G&Ls). It's at

    Not much bass traffic but some and all Rick-specific
  8. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    i'm an happy rickenbacker player! i have a 1980 mapleglo 4001 i play both with flatwoud and rounwound strings without any problem. i agree with the opinion of jon about the sound and the neck of the 4001 and i suggest you too to find a used rick. make sure that once bought you do the bypass surgery to cut out the third capacitor of the bridge pickup, you'll improve a lot your sound with more bottom end and power output. about the rick sound vivist the thread on this forun titled rickenbacker and you'll have a lot of precious info about this wonderful and absoultely unique instrument!
  9. As a very proud 4001V63 owner (that's the designation for the 1963 re-issue, By-Tor), I'd like to throw in on the truss rod issue that the V63s DO have twin truss rods specifically to deal with roundwounds. These are incredible sounding basses...nothing really sounds like one, and they play beautifully.

    Good luck!
  10. Edgar


    Nov 4, 2000
    Montreal, QC, CA
    I always thought that Flatwound had more tension then Roundwound.
  11. Yeah, that's what I thought to...but you look at some brands like TI and they have very low tension flats...much lower than rounds. Here is the quote on the V63 from Rick site;

    "From Liverpool in 1963 to the present day, this instrument meticulously recreates the greatest ancestor of the industry standard bass guitar. It is authentic in every detail, even to the 'horseshoe' bass pickup of 1931. A fully laminated neck with striped headstock runs the full length of the body for unparalleled tone and sustain. The only concession to modern technology has been a redesigned truss rod system permitting round wound strings as standard. "

    The V63 is discontinued and has been replaced by the 4001C63/ might find a good deal on V63 brand new out there :)
  12. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    ALL 4000 series basses including the 4001v63 have HAVE two truss rods, always have and always will.
    The problem with the early designed dual rod system was in the design itself, and the softness of the metal rods used. To much tension on the neck could pop the fretboard right off the neck of the bass, ouch!

    PS - 4001v63's are increasing in price in the marketplace, not the opposite because they've been discontinued. This is happening because of the new C-Series 4001C64 and 4001C64S with are listing for $2995.00 to start. That's too much money for alot of people, so the demand for 4001v63's is increasing, hense the higher prices. The other problem is that Rickenbacker will not be commence production until some minor detail of the 4001C64S are finalized. Paul McCartney has been given the first 4001C64S prototype to evaluate and record with. RIC are anxiously waiting for his comments on the bass.
    It's expected that the C-Series basses won't start shipping until the late fall (Oct-Nov).
  13. Good info, Bassman! Glad I got mine new for $1500 including the case in Dec 2000. All the more reason to keep it and cherish it :)
  14. Turlu

    Turlu Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2000
    Ottawa, Ontario CANADA
    Hey Slaphappy!

    Bassman is right on the V63.

    I bought HIS recently !!! :)

    I really enjoy mine and now will not consider selling it for any reasons !

    That V63 with a light overdrive effect (BOSS ODB-3) does wonders !!!

    I just bought Dean Markley SR2000 strings (taper) and I will let you know how they sound when I install them this week. Other than that, the Blue Steel are doing an excellent job as well.
  15. I'll be interested to hear your report on those tapers....

    I've just kept using Rick's own stock nickel rounds on mine...just like that sound on this bass.
  16. Jon Pomplin

    Jon Pomplin

    Mar 23, 2001
    I have tried several different string makers on my '80 4001 like Diaddario, Dean Markley, Fender, Rick, Gore Tek, and Rotosounds. Also have used half-wounds, and rounds and still find myself going back to the rotosounds. However, they don't seem to be as good as they were back in the 70's. Maybe I'm just getting old but they seem to die out quicker. Always on the lookout for good strings for the Rick (use Fender tapered RW strings exclusively on the Jazz bass). The trick is finding ones that meet my sound requirements and don't tear the neck all to hell. At least with the Roto's I know what to expect.