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Troubles with a Rickenbacker 4001 - can it be fixed?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jim y, Jan 19, 2003.

  1. jim y

    jim y

    Jan 19, 2003
    Wales UK
    Hi. I wonder if anyone can suggest options for my "old" rick. It's early 80's and has a fundamental fault I can't get to the bottom of plus a few other niggles.
    There is a strange overtone on the bottom notes - I suspect something is loose but it isn't anything obvious. It has two truss rods - could they be resonating? Is there something I could do to stop it?
    The bridge seems to be diecast zinc alloy - too light I think. Is there a brass replacement available?
    The pickups are incredibly weak and not humbucking - I can find no replacements on the market. Would it be possible to fit a jazz or soapbar pickup without major surgery? There was a capacitor wired in series with the bridge pickup which I have shorted out - this improved things a bit. I am going to have it refretted - the existing frets are tiny - smaller than most guitars. What grade of fretwire should I go for?
    I'm fond of this Bass, but if it's too much trouble to make it playable it will have stay on the wall hanger.
    Nowadays, I prefer to play finger style. Can a Rick ever be set up for this (Every Rick player I have seen uses a pick)?
    It still has the string damper gimmick which I actually think could be useful, but it is badly designed and can't be set evenly across the strings - has anyone found a fix for this?
    The basic construction and finish of this bass are first class, but the fittings? Yuch!
    Sorry that's a lot of questions but the situation's slowly driving me mad. I love this Bass but a cheap Legend P-bass copy I got for jamming around with is currently superior in every way for sound and playabilty - it should not be so!
  2. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
  3. tim4003


    Apr 30, 2002
    Dawsonville , GA
    Hi jim,
    I'll try to help.
    As for your overtone problem, take off your nameplate and check out the nuts on the truss rods and see if they are loose. Just snug them up though,as these can be easily stripped! The necks on 4001's have to be physically forced and then turn the nuts to adjust the neck.
    Pickups can be purchased direct from R.I.C. at:
    Neck p/u's are $75 & bridge p/u's are $125.(single coil)
    Visit the Ric forum for more help:
  4. BassWizard55

    BassWizard55 Guest

    Dec 21, 2002
    Rome, Ga
    It sounds to me that you just don't need a Rickenbacker. You're getting rid of all the things that make the ricks unique tone, the pickup, the bridge, ect. I think you should just go bass shoping my friend.
  5. jim y

    jim y

    Jan 19, 2003
    Wales UK
    Many thanks for the swift replies people.
    The truss rod nuts are fully tight - but having just seen on the Rick forum the description of hollow sounding necks I took it apart and investigated. The truss rods are loose - not anchored in the heel and don't ever seem to have been. Wha! This is a problem for the Rick Luthier forum.
    Actually, this particular Bass has never produced the "Rickenbacker" sound very well - with these skinny frets, it's impossible to get a low action with roundwound strings without tons of fret buzz from the E and A strings. Adding compression for recording just makes things worse because the pickups are so weak in the first place. They are the cheapest/nastiest things I have seen since the days of plywood Aisan copies - the pole pieces are in fact plastic plugs!
    Thanks for the Seymore Duncan tip - once the truss rod and fret problems are dealt with I'll look into them - but I don't think any UK stores bother to stock them.

    (HD's edit - substituted "Asian" for another term considered to be a slur...)
  6. LowEndRider

    LowEndRider Guest

    Mar 4, 2002
    Bartolini made a replacement pickup that slots into the string damper assembly for more bite although I'm not sure what the output would be like...
  7. jim y

    jim y

    Jan 19, 2003
    Wales UK
    Hey LowEnd - I thought for some time that the damper slot could take a pickup - had no idea someone actually made one - thanks for the tip. I guess it would sound very toppy.
    Leaned a lot about those truss rods from the Rick resource site. They don't anchor but are meant to distort when the nuts tighten and then grip and push the neck at the same time. Clever - but those nuts have to be really tight for it to work. There is an alloy (dural?) double washer under both nuts that shows crushing marks so I guess it works loose over time. Anyhow, this seems to have cured the worst of the overtone - just a hint of it on the open E but it doesn't come thru the pickups too bad. There is still a hollow "donk" when you tap the neck but with 2 folded steel rods under tension in there, I'm not surprised. I'd never before realised that the rods could affect tone so much. Now I must do something about the noise pickup - it's worse than a Strat! May be a wiring/screening issue - not just the pickups.
    Thanks again for pointing me the right way.
  8. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    I believe Bartolini does (or did) make replacements pickups for Ricks too.

    I've seen them on one or two Rickenbackers.

    But I don't have specifics.
  9. LowEndRider

    LowEndRider Guest

    Mar 4, 2002
    P.S. Jim y
    here's a seymour dncan on my '77 4001
  10. jim y

    jim y

    Jan 19, 2003
    Wales UK
    So that's what they look like! I couldn't find a pic on the SD site. Speaking of which - does anyone know a UK dealer who actually stocks these Seymour Duncan Rick pickups? I found a few SD stockists - but none have the Rick replacements.
    Come to that - who are Bartolini? I can find lots of guitars fitted with their pickups but not the pickups alone! Is there a website? Hmmm... I know, I'll seach the threads!
    Thanks ;)
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

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