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Al Krow

Please tell me why I should avoid getting a Rickenbacker!

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Made a trip to GuitarGuitar in Camden today (to return a wrong pedal they had sent me via their online store...but that is whole another story!). Whilst I was there, I spent a bit of time A/Bing a few basses through a Mesa 800D and GK speaker they had to hand.

The Rickenbacker 4003 was the bass that took me by surprise!

https://www.guitargu...er-4003s-walnut

Plenty of tonal variety, ranging from vintage to modern and touching at times on a Warwick growl (which I also really like). It looked great with a maple neck through and walnut body and felt very comfortable to hold. Initial reaction was that I would need to adjust to the thicker neck that the Rick has as compared to my current basses and I'd also need to get used to that bridge rest over the strings (very James Jamerson - but hey who doesn't have him as a bass hero?!)

Definitely not cheap though!

But if I can get hold of one second hand, I could maybe justify getting another bass to myself and Mrs Krow as I do currently have one empty space on my guitar / bass rack that is looking a little bereft after recently moving on an old time 1988 Aria Pro II...

Be great to hear your thoughts on Rickenbackers if you've ever owned one or spent any time playing them: the good, the bad and the ugly!

Edited by Al Krow

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Walnut is a great tone wood. I actually think Ricks are pretty flexible and I like the sound, just not the looks, ergonomics or the CEO.

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Because the guy who runs the company is proper tool. Buy one second hand if you like them.

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Iconic. I've owned 4 (at least). This includes a Chris Squire and a Macca one. I wanted to love them but the truth is the playability and tone don't suit me.

But at least I gave it a proper go :)

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I have never owned one or played one for any length of time. I have played with three for around 20-30 minutes and found that enough to know the shape/ layout just doesn't work for me. I have crappy old joints and maybe that's the reason but I can't imagine bouncing around for an hour and a half to two hours with one.

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Go for it if it's what you desire and can comfortably afford. Reasons for not buying it would be because you can't sell it on BC if GAS gets you 6 months down the line and you need to move it on.

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I currently own two 4001 models. They are great basses, and capable of a wider range of tones than you may think. Both of mine have great necks, though I do have to modify my right hand technique when I use them. Having said that, they are no longer my first choice basses simple because they don't suitmy main band.

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I bought a Mapleglo 4003 back in 2009. I did one gig and recording with it and sold it on. I actually only lost £50 which I figured was a good rate to hire one for a few months! :) I like 'em, nice tone, weight and balance. The problem was mostly that it is a lot of money to have tied up in a bass that is just an occasional player. Also at the time I felt it was an expensive bass to take around some of the venues I played. Strange because my T-bird was cheaper but still an expensive bass and I am much more relaxed about it now. I do think about owning one again but it is unlikely and would have to be a very cheap second hand bargain or I simply wouldn't entertain it. Oh and black, blue or red this time.

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"Touching on a Warwick growl" - that's funny!

Anyway, though, the Ric is simply the best bass that ever has been and ever will be made.

Apart from that, no reason at all.

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I always though Rickenbackers were old clank machines until I heard someone playing Dune Tune by Level 42 on one - then realised a lot of my favourite soul funk bassists from the early 70s played them (Larry Graham for one). They're quite versatile.

http://youtu.be/McBSPmqi5fo

As for the CEO - well he simply takes issue with people making unlicensed copies of his instruments - and can you blame him - he's more interested in protecting his customers and his business rather than the knock off merchants and theirs. I don't see that being odd in any way - maybe the zeal with which individuals have been chased is a little surprising. Very strange some manufacturers never bothered to protect their designs and probably now regret those decisions.

Edited by drTStingray

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Tell you why you should avoid getting a Rickenbacker?

Erm...

The only thing I can say is you should avoid NOT getting one. They're great IMO. The ergonomics aren't for everyone and they're expensive, but if you can afford one, get one. The great thing about them is that if you don't get on with it, you can turn it around without losing too much (especially if you get a good deal on it in the first place).

I want another 4003, but I really fancy getting a 4004 at some point as well (in either Laredo or Cheyenne II guise).

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You shouldn't avoid getting one....
If you love the look, feel and sound of a Rick - then get one. I know there are a lot of Rick haters on here, but if it's the bass that does it for you, and you are GASsing after one - then there's only one course of action :)

Like others, I don't care for the CEO very much, but I once bought a car from a salesman I didn't particularly like either - though the car was fine.. ;)

I've always liked Ricks, they're just very "different" in appearance and I love the sounds and variety of tone you can get. One of my fave bass players, Paul Grey (ex Damned, Hot Rods, UFO) plays them, and I've always really liked his sound. But as others have noted, they've been used in many genres of music, and always look & sound good. Just wear a sweat band on your right forearm to stop the body edge from digging in....

Also, try thoroughly before you buy - you may find they vary, well, at least in terms of set up, but I had a 4003 and it was pretty damn good, but wasn't the easiest to play - given that I'd played a few. These days, I don't own a Rick, but I've got an old 70's Shaftesbury that I love, and though I rarely play it, for me it's the best "Rick" I've ever played....

Good luck curing your GAS - let us know what you decide to do :)

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Some really interesting and varied points of view coming through - cheers! Opinion seems to be a lot more divided than about Sandbergs, which has been my go-to 4 string for the past three years and which seem to get a lot more love on this forum. Clearly the CEO has got the back up of many folk but whether that is 'cos he is simply just doing his job or being an idiot, is I guess the point of debate.

Picking up on a couple of responses from this thread...

[quote name='prowla' timestamp='1497389875' post='3317844']
Anyway, though, the Ric is simply the best bass that ever has been and ever will be made.
[/quote]

That's a very BIG statement in favour of Rics - please elaborate!

[quote name='Skybone' timestamp='1497421360' post='3317918']
The only thing I can say is you should avoid NOT getting one. They're great IMO. The ergonomics aren't for everyone and they're expensive, but if you can afford one, get one. The great thing about them is that if you don't get on with it, you can turn it around without losing too much (especially if you get a good deal on it in the first place).
[/quote]

They do seem to keep their value better than some other excellent basses (including the Warwick that I managed recently to get for a really good price second hand). Just been looking at the 4003s FS on another site and they've pretty much all been sold (or at least had asking prices - I appreciate that isn't the same thing!) at around the £1,250 mark and that isn't a massive discount on some of the new deals going?

One of the guys who has put his Rick up for sale, and has just acquired a Warwick $$ (which gives him pretty similar tastes to me), gives his reason as ".[i]..it's not getting used as I just don't get on with the neck[/i]." That was my immediate reaction, too, when I picked it up - it did feel like a slightly chunkier neck than either my Sandberg or Warwick. Kinda hoping that my reasonably large hand reach will mean that I could get used to this, but wondering whether this has been an off-putting factor for others, too?

Please do keep your thoughts / views coming - they're always interesting and informative to hear!

Edited by Al Krow

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I found when trying them, the only thing to watch is just because you really like the sound of this one, doesn't mean you will really like the sound of the next one you play, they seem to vary a lot even in apparently identical ones. Also second hand they are still pretty expensive. You could always get interest free on it if you want to pay for ever.

I do find them overpriced, but then overpriced is entirely related to what you want, and one mans overpriced is the next mans good deal - if it makes the sound you want and you can afford it, it is a good price.

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[quote name='Al Krow' timestamp='1497428974' post='3317987']
Some really interesting and varied points of view coming through - cheers! Opinion seems to be a lot more divided than about Sandbergs, which has been my go-to 4 string for the past three years and which seem to get a lot more love on this forum. Clearly the CEO has got the back up of many folk but whether that is 'cos he is simply just doing his job or being an idiot, is I guess the point of debate.[/quote]
Yes - I think the man is aggressively protecting his brand against counterfeiters; kudos to him for doing it, I say.

I do think that the vintage 70s/80s 'fakers are interesting machines and I did one up as a project recently.

And from my side it's OK if it remains a cottage industry without impinging on the brand itself.

[quote name='Al Krow' timestamp='1497428974' post='3317987']
That's a very BIG statement in favour of Rics - please elaborate!
[/quote]
(IMHO, of course!)

The Ric has unique sound and look; I find that if I see a band with one, all I do is look at the Ric and listen for it.

A lot of other basses are very samey Fender-alikes; they may be made better than Fenders, but they are visually uninspiring.

There is no other bass which is so instantly recognisable.

I find I can pick up any other brand of bass and play it and think it was really good, but then I walk away and it's pretty much forgotten.

[quote name='Woodinblack' timestamp='1497429215' post='3317990']
I do find them overpriced, but then overpriced is entirely related to what you want, and one mans overpriced is the next mans good deal - if it makes the sound you want and you can afford it, it is a good price.
[/quote]
They are priced similarly to other top-flight instruments, though there is a healthy mark-up in UK list prices.

The quality of the workmanship is really rather good and they do last well.

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[quote name='Al Krow' timestamp='1497428974' post='3317987']
Some really interesting and varied points of view coming through - cheers! Opinion seems to be a lot more divided than about Sandbergs, which has been my go-to 4 string for the past three years and which seem to get a lot more love on this forum. Clearly the CEO has got the back up of many folk but whether that is 'cos he is simply just doing his job or being an idiot, is I guess the point of debate.

Picking up on a couple of responses from this thread...



That's a very BIG statement in favour of Rics - please elaborate!



They do seem to keep their value better than some other excellent basses (including the Warwick that I managed recently to get for a really good price second hand). Just been looking at the 4003s FS on another site and they've pretty much all been sold (or at least had asking prices - I appreciate that isn't the same thing!) at around the £1,250 mark and that isn't a massive discount on some of the new deals going?

One of the guys who has put his Rick up for sale, and has just acquired a Warwick $$ (which gives him pretty similar tastes to me), gives his reason as ".[i]..it's not getting used as I just don't get on with the neck[/i]." That was my immediate reaction, too, when I picked it up - it did feel like a slightly chunkier neck than either my Sandberg or Warwick. Kinda hoping that my reasonably large hand reach will mean that I could get used to this, but wondering whether this has been an off-putting factor for others, too?

Please do keep your thoughts / views coming - they're always interesting and informative to hear!
[/quote]

Pricewise they're well over £2k new, so £1100-£1250 s/h is a big price hit if buying new... There appears to be one for less than £2k at Music Junkie, but it's not in stock so may be a come on.

I had a 4001 for about a year back in the day - really did not get on with it but did try and persevere. Hated the neck and the electronics were as noisy as a cheap chinese bass, .

Buying one is a lottery, build and finish quality can be at sub Gibson USA levels from what I've read...

If you like the look, then there is no alternative to one except a "faker".. In terms of the sound I'm not sure it's that special - Chris Squires so heavily modified it probably does not count as a rick - and Geddy Lee appears to have used a JAzz interchangeably with his rick..

Just my opinion, YMMV..

Edited by markstuk

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[quote name='bubinga5' timestamp='1497379405' post='3317723']
It's the one bass I have no desire to own. Don't like anything about it.
[/quote]
yep me also

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[quote name='prowla' timestamp='1497430810' post='3318004']
Yes - I think the man is aggressively protecting his brand against counterfeiters; kudos to him for doing it, I say.
[/quote]

Very aggressively, very offensively aggressive and completely over the top to protecting his brand. Certainly cant deny his passion, if not his way of dealing with people. But then the head of Gibson is apparently not that nice either.

However, I don't really have an issue with separating the man from the guitar, I don't think my (very low) opinion of the man would affect my choice as to whether to buy a ric. I always wanted one as a kid - my heros played rics, Geddy Lee and Chris Squire, as well as pretty well everyone playing 'punk' was top of the pops at the time.
Ultimately by the time I got round to playing a real one (I had an ibanez copy when I was young) I found it wasn't really anything that special and must have - the sort of thing that I would probably get if they were half the price and I found one that was a good one, but even second hand they are in the range where you can get something really special, so unlikely I would ever have one.

However, we are all different, and if they work for you, everyone elses opinion should be irrelevant.

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I love the look of those walnut 4003s, and that is what I'd be going for if I could come up with a believable excuse to justify one. I fear it might involve the sale of other basses, so it's a bind!

Many non-standard basses affect the way you play, and I'm sure a Rick would too. Sometimes it's good to be open to letting a bass bring out something different in your playing, even if it takes a while to settle into. I love what the shortscale hollow-body brings to the table, and the T-bird has me reaching for a plectrum more often than usual. Who knows how I would interface with a Rick long term, but I'm not afraid of the period of getting to know a bass which isn't like a Fender. Although not a popular feature, I would be straight on the Rick-o-sound too. That's actually a large part of the appeal to me!

I do think we would be better acquainted with the design if there was some kind of budget version, if only from Rick themselves. We all know what we are getting to some degree with, for example, an upscale Fender or one of the many ripoffs (come back to that in a minute!) but with a Rick the only option is to jump in at the top end. You can't just dip your toes in, so it becomes a bigger risk if you don't dig the bass for whatever reason.

Regarding the protection of the brand, I think our perceptions are skewed by the fact that we are used to a market where designs haven't been properly protected, and we can pick up direct rip-offs for a song, or modified/improved versions trading on the designs of another company. It's much the same as those poor musicians who unwittingly signed all their royalties over to a marauding record company years back because they didnt have the legal know-how, or buying a pair of Ray-tan glasses down the market for a fraction of the price of Ray-bans. Rick are actually protecting their intellectual property in the way companies normally do, and it is an anomaly that Fender and Gibson designs appear to be practically public domain.

I don't know the law on electrical circuits, but the same kind of thing applies to pedals too. Folks​ rag on Behringer for 'stealing designs', then toodle off to their favourite boutique builder for a wicked Muff clone. Rick are too expensive and should let people copy their product, Behri are too cheap and should stop copying companies products...???

I don't know, whatever the situation, I dig Rickenbacker 4003s, and I would like one. 'Nuff said.

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[quote name='Al Krow' timestamp='1497428974' post='3317987']
..... when I picked it up - it did feel like a slightly chunkier neck than either my Sandberg or Warwick. Kinda hoping that my reasonably large hand reach will mean that I could get used to this, but wondering whether this has been an off-putting factor for others, too?

Please do keep your thoughts / views coming - they're always interesting and informative to hear!
[/quote]

I think for me, Ricks have slightly chunky necks, but I don't find them overly chunky
What I think I disliked (a bit) about the 4003 I used to own, was not so much the chunkiness - but the neck didn't seem to taper as much as it does on say, a Fender Jazz. I've not played a Rick with as chunky a neck as an old 70's Fender P I once owned - but again, a chunky neck that doesn't taper noticeably toward the nut is what I think I don't like - again, that's just personal preference.

One of the nicest basses I've ever played, and perhaps the best, most comfortable Rick I ever played, belongs to Gelfin of this forum. I've mentioned it before, but he challenges anyone not to like it, and pretty much everyone who has played it (even Rick haters) seem to be won over.... You'd think that such things would be far more universal and without so much variation - but some basses just seem to be better players, or have more "mojo" or just seem easier to bond with..... EDIT: So there are great Ricks out there lol ;)

Good luck in your search - maybe just go for the one you really liked - again, it's your money and your choice. Listen to peoples opinions, but bear in mind that they may have just taken a dislike (or stronger) towards a particular brand, and Rick seems to be one of those brands....

BTW. You mention Sandbergs - I've nothing against them, but I tried to bond with a couple, and just couldn't. I tried a couple that one guy was selling, one of the cheaper models and a rather expensive one, and oddly enough the cheaper one felt and sounded the better bass - still not a patch on my RW Precision mind.. but again, it's all about personal taste & preference....

Edited by Marc S

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