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Used Rickenbacker 4003, What To Look For?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pentatonic, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I've been lurking here for a few weeks but this is my first post.

    I started playing bass when I was 12 or 13. Gave it up in my early 20s. I'm 50 now and recently started playing again. Picked up a Rogue violin bass 2 months ago, put LaBella flats on it and have been thumping right along. I also have a 2000ish MIM Sunburst P bass. Pix to follow.

    Ever since I knew what a Rickenbacker bass was I wanted one. Someone is selling a 2013 Midnight Blue locally at a good price. Not my first color choice but I am going to check it out today. Having never purchased a used instrument before, any suggestions on what to look for generally and in particular for a 4003 bass?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. IntrepidCellist


    Sep 10, 2009
    Beyond the typical things to look for with buying a used instrument, off the top of my head:

    1.) Make sure both truss rods work and are not broken. They're tougher than the 4001 truss rods, but I've seen people try to pass off 4003s with a broken rod (which is a pain to fix).
    2.) Check for excessive "tail lift", where the back end of the bridge where the strings anchor starts to pull away from the face of the instrument. A little is okay, but a lot can affect the break angle on the bridge and may have a negative effect on the sound.
    3.) Other than that, make sure the electronics (including the push-pull on the newer 4003s) work, there are no headstock or neck cracks, and ensure that you plug into the right output jack while testing.
  3. DionClassic

    DionClassic Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2012
    I feel like every RIC is its own thing... The fact that you'll be trying it out is key. Just make sure it feels right and you get the tone you're looking for. Ive heard of some having really high action and never really being able to dial it in...

    No matter what it'll be the sexiest bass on the block so as long as she feels right in your hands, you're laughing.

    Enjoy the RIC and expect many compliments!
  4. Mockyngbyrd


    May 1, 2013
    Good luck with the new Ric. I just got mine (2010 4003 JetGlo) this past October. They're very nice. Hopefully you'll get the split cable to try out the "Ric-O-Sound" (one cable to 2 amps).
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    The newer the better and don't pay more than $1400 to $1500 for anything. If new then $1600.
  6. Thanks for the replies everyone. Seller raised the price $200 after I said I was interested in it, I'm holding out for original listed price or just letting it go.

    Great forum!
  7. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I wouldn't put up with someone altering the price on the fly, if he's being a douche let him keep it.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Unless you really like this personal bass, you can get a brand new Ric delivered to your door from pickthericks for $1610 (maybe Wildwood, but I think PotR)

    Rics constantly sell for more used than they do new, so just be aware. What was the "good price" that went up $200 if you do not mind me asking.
  9. eb3mike


    Nov 5, 2010
    I recently purchased a 98 4003. Beautiful and great sounding instrument. I found out after I got it home that the neck had a slight twist in it. Doesn't affect playing, no fret buzz and the intonation is perfect. Sight the neck from the head stock down rather than from the body.

    Good Luck
  10. That's a BS, bush-league move. I would walk away at any price. It's even money that this seller will be a total PITA to deal with when you check out the instrument.

    There will be other Rics. Savor the hunt!
  11. Ironbar


    Aug 24, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    Amen on the price issue. If it were me, I'd tell the guy to take a flying leap, then hold out for a new Ric in your preferred color choice!
  12. First of all, the seller sucks majorly. Raising the price after you're interested? Meet up with him and offer him $200 below his original asking now.

    Things to look for:

    (1)Make sure it's not missing any of the key (expensive) components such as the serial number plate, or the Rickenbacker trussrod cover. If you have mobile internet access (phone) look up the serial number before you leave and see if the date matches his description.

    (2) Make sure it's a real Ric. Refer to Joey's bass notes:

    (3) Insist on taking off the truss rod cover and checking to truss rod nuts and block. Often time if the rods have been tampered with incorrectly the block with be beat up or even broken. That is this part that is holding the truss rods: http://i1019.photobucket.com/albums/af320/wiker64/FixingTrussRods01.jpg
  13. Thanks everyone,

    He was asking $1000 with an Orange Amp.

    Thank you.
  14. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    $1000 with an Orange amp? Everyone likes a good deal, but that raises a little flag for me. Is it stolen? Truss rod issues? Where did he get it? Hmmm--might run the serial number with the cops. But also raising price like that is major scumbucket move = not to be trusted as a man of his word.
  15. Ironbar


    Aug 24, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    That seems awfully damned cheap for a Rick bass AND an amp thrown in. I would run, not walk away from this deal.
  16. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Eww, this situation reeks of a scam or stolen bass.

    As a former RIC 4003 owner, I could tell you what to look for and what to avoid but that seems to have already been covered mostly in this thread.

    Ric 4003 basses are retro instruments, lovingly made and finished beautifully but often, and I mean often, can have little quirks that sometimes add to their charm (the occasional crooked pickup), and sometimes add to frustration and eventual full blown problems (damaged truss rods, catastrophic tail lift).

    Short answer, new Rickenbacker 4003's are as good if not better today than ever, so unless you are a collector there's really no good reason to get a used Ric. Because the persistent belief that new Rickenbackers cost $2000 (they don't, $1500 to $1600 ballpark) folks consistently spend way too much for the used ones (IMO) that may or may not have issues and that won't have a warranty of a new one.

    If you really want one, save a few more hundred bucks and get you a new one. You'll have a warranty IF there's a problem or even a loving quirk you aren't willing to live with.

    Good luck. :)

    [Edit: ....and welcome to Talkbass!] :bassist::hyper:
  17. Jonithen


    Dec 3, 2012
    Seacoast NH
    I am likewise in the market, and was absolutely baffled by the prices of used 4003's. Something collectible or from a vintage age, ok I can see spending money on if that is your thing. It makes absolutely no sense to me to spend as much or more on something 3-5 years old as it would to have something sent from one of the stores that can ship to the door. Maybe it's a case of people who bought high that don't want to take a bath, but this is definitely an instrument that it pays to research.
  18. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Just because it's an Orange amp doesn't mean it's a Tiny Terror, it could be their $179 practice combo. For a grand I'd check it out, but if he gets funky with the price I'd walk and not return his calls afterwards. I've seen Rics go for a grand, and if it's the little amp he's basically just throwing it in.
  19. RIC's warranty is highly over rated. Just ask anyone who has contacted their customer service department and you'll understand.
    Also, it is important to remember that RIC's "warranty" begins the day of manufacture, not the day you buy it.
    Food for thought.
  20. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Warranty in general is overrated if you have to ship the bass back to the manufacturer.

    If it's a pickup or something like that, you're better off just buying a new one and replacing it rather than spending more to ship the bass back and forth.

    Unless it's a case of complete structural failure or finish falling off within the year covered by the finish warranty I can't see that being a cost efficient option.

    That said, a good used bass with issues that either don't bother you or are easily fixed are a good deal if you're handy enough to do your own basic repairs and setup.

    I bought new recently because I didn't want to inherit wear/damage from a previous owner for a change,and am very happy with my 2010 4003.
    Pick of the Ricks and Wildwood seem to be the best dealers to buy from, not dissing any others but these guys go the extra mile.