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What's the big deal about Rickenbacker?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by snake23, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. snake23


    Dec 3, 2006
    A friend of mine just purchased a 1970's and 2001 model Ric. I played both of them, this is my first time playing a Ric and to be honest I thought they both kinda sucked. I don't see what the big deal is and why everyone thinks they are so great and why they cost so much. I have a 400 dollar Ibanez bass that i plugged in right after and it blew the Ric away in sound and playability. Am I missing something here?
  2. Different strokes for different folks?
  3. snake23


    Dec 3, 2006
    I understand people like different things for different reasons, was curious why some people like them so much. They are great looking basses but from everything I've read I was expecting much more.
  4. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    what was the ibanez?
    how about the strings on either, new old?
    how was the amp eq'ed?
    what kind of sound do you generally like?

    there's a couple things to make your argument, unfortunately most of them are subjective.

    was your bass a neck through?
    made in america?
    maple neck with laquered rosewood fretboard and a walnut body?
    aluminum bridge?

  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    For one thing, the sound is unique- either you want the Ric tone or you don't. For another, many of the famous Ric players had their own technique and an amp rig that was well-matched to the tone and technique. Take away the player and the amp rig, and you have a bass that just doesn't sound quite like you're used to.
  6. snake23


    Dec 3, 2006
    Ibanez is a soundgear, soapbar pickups ,rosewood fingerboard ,eq was flat and unchanged from one bass to another and the sound and volume were noticeably beefier and louder going from the ric to the ibanez. There was no comparison even my friend looked a little disturbed.
  7. StealingYerMail


    Nov 6, 2007
    As said, you like the tone or you don't. Your Ibanez probably has a hotter output than the Ric, and that's why it was louder.

    The Ric tone isn't for everyone. You really shouldn't just jump into Rics. It's a very definitive sound that you either want or don't.

    I personally love it, and feel that a Ric is light years ahead of Ibanez in every category, but there are others who feel differently.
  8. Always thought a Rickenbacker 4001 / 4003 is the coolest looking bass on the planet.
  9. snake23


    Dec 3, 2006
    Yeah I hear what you're saying it wasn't the sound for me, I like a more round and heavy bass tone.
  10. tercesyrev

    tercesyrev Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    Sorry to be a Ric basher but they have to be the most over priced bass. Weak pic ups, especially the neck p/u. The necks are like 2X2s you buy at a hard ware store. They're nice and straight when you buy them but over time they bow almost uncontrollably. Talk to any serious Luthier / Repair Technician and they say the trust rod system is very poor. I was at my luthier a few weeks back and he showed my a "pile" of Ric trust rods that he had to replace. That's right, lift the fret board off, cut out the old trust rod and replace it with a much better design. They are pretty, unique sound and perhaps nostalgic, but WAY overpriced. Take the Rickenbacker name off and sell them under a different label and they're worth squat. On the other hand, that doesnt' surprise me about the Ibanez. They could be one of the most under rated bass lines out there, especially their Prestige line.
  11. Snake, I hear ya man. People go nuts over Rics because they're hard to get and they've barely changed in 40 years. Seriously, that's the reason. Most of the folks that are after them "collectors," rather than working musicians. There's NOTHING WRONG with that though. I'd bet if Chevy was still making a perfectly rendered 1969 Corvette Stingray, there'd be plenty of folks trying to get one of those too.
    If you want a quality American made bass, there's several to choose from, MusicMan, Fender MIA, Gibson, etc. People just like owning a Ric.
  12. Certainly a distinctive bass tone. I have only had ocassional access to a few of these basses, and to me, it felt like it was built for my hands. I love the bright, aggressive tone. To appreciate these basses, you should listend to songs like Highway Star by Deep Purple, Most of the 1970's Yes recordings and of course, 70's Rush. If you can get that tone from your Ibanez, more power to you.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    People either love or hate Rics ...
  14. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    As a Ric owner, I love them... obviously.

    I actually wanted once way back a bunch of years ago when I had a chance to play one. It was just the perfect neck size and string spacing I wanted and a tone that I love. I finally purchased one last year after years of GASing and I can't say I regret it. After owning one I notice that I can get a ton of tones out of my Ric. I can go from the Rush-like tone to a beefy reggae like tone. As for the Pick ups not being loud enough, that's true... but with the new 4003 pick ups you can always adjust each pole for each string on the pick up to make it louder to fix the problem.

    Idk... I like them, but I can see why not everyone would... (Same goes for any bass though...seriously.)
  15. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    They are unique. I have one and love it. Unfortunately the bands I'm playing with now play a music that requires a different sound, so I don't use the Ric, but it's there if I need it and if I need it, nothing else will do. Beyond the looks and the sound the company is run in a different way from all the others, and John Hall is his own man. There is a lot of proud American tradition in Rickenbacker.
  16. melt


    May 16, 2007
    You know, posts like this make me laugh. The problem with the truss rod design on the Rick 4001 was that nobody knew how to adjust it ('including most "serious luthiers/repair technicians" unfortunately). The neck was supposed to be set in place by hand, and then the rods adjusted to keep it there. Unfortunately loads of people tried to adjust the neck in the same way they would on other basses and quickly ran out of adjustment, damaging the rods and often the neck. Not so much a fault of the design as of the lack of knowledge of the people adjusting it. And you shouldn't need to lift the fingerboard off to get at a Ric trussrod; undo the nuts and they slide straight out (ever heard of the term "field replaceable"?). This means that if your rods bend/break you can relatively easily fix/replace them. How many basses can you say that about?

    The Ric 4003 has however an improved trussrod design which allows you to adjust the neck via the truss rods in the same way as most other basses. That came in in the early 80s so they've been around a while! Still field replaceable too. FWIW I have had several 4000 series basses; the rods on my 72 were fine until I took it to a luthier who it turned out didn't know how to adjust them. They've since been replaced, which was an easy enough job. My 73 4000 has no problems whatsoever. In fact, if you read the posts by Geddy Lee's bass tech, he finds the necks on the Rics don't move at all, unlike his Fenders. Same thing as I've found. I've owned dozens of basses, many high-end, and the Ric necks move far less than any other make I've owned. If I don't change string gauge I don't need to adjust my Ric necks, period. Ever. Can you say that about other basses? As for weak pickups, if you mean "less powerful than active" pickups then you might be right. However the horseshoe in my CS reads over 10k, which I wouldn't say is weak. Also I can get a far more aggressive tone out of my Rics than I ever could out of any Ibanez I've played (although I have nothing against Ibanez, they're nice basses). In terms of value they're hand made in the USA. That costs, in case you haven't noticed. A neck through, completely original bass with body/neck binding and an expensive finish which costs about the same as a bolt on USA Fender with none of the above. Sure, they're expensive compared to Far Eastern basses, but what made in USA bass isn't? (and for the record I'm UK based so have no loyalty either way).

    One last thing; if you just plug a Ric into a typical amp with the same settings you'd use for everything else, you're missing the point. They need the right amps/cabs and right eq to bring out the best of them. But I would suggest that you listen to Lemmy, Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Roger Glover, Bruce Foxton, early Mike Rutherford, Paul McCartney etc etc. If you don't like the sounds they're producing then you may simply not like Rickenbackers. If you do but when you play one you don't get those sounds, then I suggest you start again from scratch.....
  17. Drucocu


    Jan 24, 2007
    thank you, I'd wrote the same thing, and I'm no american either (switzerland).

  18. melt


    May 16, 2007
    I currently have 4 Rics, and not one MM/Fender/Gibson etc. The reason? I've never played a MM/Gibson/Fender that I like half as much. And I'm a working musician, not a collector. I choose Rics because I love them (although they're not the only basses I own), not because "they've barely changed in 40 years", and certainly not because they're hard to get.
  19. Ouch! I stand corrected sir!
  20. deBont Amps

    deBont Amps Commercial User

    Apr 10, 2007
    deBont Amps
    I don't care for the sound of a Ric that much either, BUT the sound seems to work very very well for certain types of music, especially brit pop/rock (some bands I really like use 'em). Like many times said before in this thread, you need the right amps/cabs to get it. An Ibanez soundgear IMO would be totally worthless in the situations where the Ric is at his best.

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