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Rickenbacker advice...

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So I'm looking for a Rickenbacker. I tried a 4003 in Guitar Guitar (Camden) before the lockdown started and was thoroughly underwhelmed. I'd always been led to believe that Ric's have a thin, shallow neck, this one was like a baseball bat. 

So is there a  Ric with a thin shallow neck? A particular vintage of 4001?  I've also looked at the C63/C64 basses. Anyone got either of these? Would welcome some advice.

 

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Posted (edited)

I've owned a (2006) rickenbacker 4003 for a while. It had a huge fat neck, and the whole bass felt big.. 

Now I own a '78 4001 which has a a way thinner (and better playable for me) neck. This bass feels much more comfortable to me overall. 

These to basses look the same, but I think there really is a big difference. And I think the 4001 has a better characterful sound too which I felt a lot less with the 4003. Though I think the electronics (cap) have altered as happened much apparently. 

Edited by SurroundedByManatees
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I've got a 4003 from 2002 and would say the neck is fairly shallow (I've got some calipers arriving midweek so can get you measurements if you fancy), but being quite wide at the nut almost makes up for it so I wouldn't describe their necks as being thin or 'fast. They're pretty unique necks that take a bit of getting used to imo, but once you get there they're pretty comfy. 

What are you used to playing? I have to admit that I picked the Ric up for the first time in months and it did feel a little weird at first. 

Where abouts are you in London? I'm in Enfield and you're more than welcome to come over to have a play on it once life is back to normal. 

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As with all companies, Rickenbacker changed the specs relatively regularly.

I had a 4003 from 2005, which had a thinner neck than the current run of 4003's, it also didn't have the "Vintage" circuit, which came in 2006, along with the current thicker neck. A mid 90's to 2005 model would be a good place to start looking for one. Alternatively, you could try and find a 4001 from the 70's. However, it is known that the necks vary quite a bit, because they were all hand made, so no two 4001's are the same.

You could try looking for a Faker, which have more consistent necks. I have 2 Rockinbetter's that are both over 10 years old (not the current crop of "Chinabackers"/"Chickenbackers". The neck is relatively thin, and feels great. You could try and find a 70's 4001 MIJ copy (Ibanez / Greco / Aria / etc.), but you will pay for them.

The best piece of advice I can give regarding Ric's is that you really do need to "try before you buy", which I know is not the best advice in the current climate, but it is the only way to go with Ric's. They, more than any other brand seem to make instruments that "speak" to people, and unfortunately, you do have to try a few before one says "hello" back.

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I've got an early '73 4001 (had it over 30 years) that has the most lovely slim neck and plays beautifully.  I haven't played later models so I can't comment on those, but thankfully it looks like others here can.  Good luck! 🙂

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1 hour ago, W1_Pro said:

So I'm looking for a Rickenbacker. I tried a 4003 in Guitar Guitar (Camden) before the lockdown started and was thoroughly underwhelmed. I'd always been led to believe that Ric's have a thin, shallow neck, this one was like a baseball bat. 

So is there a  Ric with a thin shallow neck? A particular vintage of 4001?  I've also looked at the C63/C64 basses. Anyone got either of these? Would welcome some advice.

 

Anything from very early ‘73 or earlier, although they’re not all the same. My 2 x 72s have very slim necks. Having said that, after ‘73 they went to a very slightly narrower but deeper feel, (the ‘72s feel slightly wider and flatter, which is my preference) until probably the ‘80s. Recent ones have similar proportions to mine, but are slightly bigger. Of course anything from early 70s or even earlier is going to cost.
 

C Series basses should be relatively slim, same with CS or V63 pre about ‘96; after that they get much bigger. The online Rickenbacker Resource forum has a thread about neck sizes. 

Bear in mind a Ric has a very different neck to something like an Ibanez SR, they’re thicker at the nut but thinner up top.

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Posted (edited)

There are lots of reasons why the sounds differ too, and it’s not just the cap. 4003s typically have hotter pickups and lower pot values, which make them darker sounding. But the spec has changed constantly both for necks and electronics. 
 

Was the 4003 you tried new? 

Edited by 4000
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1 hour ago, 4000 said:

There are lots of reasons why the sounds differ too, and it’s not just the cap. 4003s typically have hotter pickups and lower pot values, which make them darker sounding. But the spec has changed constantly both for necks and electronics. 
 

Was the 4003 you tried new? 

Yes, brand new. 

It sounded fine to me- admitedly I was in a shop at low volume, but it was cool.

So, with regard to the 'c' ones...I really fancy a c64- I love the reverse headstock - so would that have a shallow neck do you know?

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8 hours ago, W1_Pro said:

Yes, brand new. 

It sounded fine to me- admitedly I was in a shop at low volume, but it was cool.

So, with regard to the 'c' ones...I really fancy a c64- I love the reverse headstock - so would that have a shallow neck do you know?

Well relatively speaking, yes, but it depends on your definition of shallow. There are certainly shallower necks out there.
 

See, I think the recent Ric necks are pretty nice, if scaled up a bit from my old ones. The proportions are similar, although mine are definitely shallower. Unless there was something weird about the one you’ve played, or unless they’ve changed them yet again, which is possible, I wouldn’t consider any of the more recent ones I’ve played anything like “baseball bat”. I’ve played some that are, but that was at least 15 years ago, maybe more. The newer ones are typically a fair bit slimmer than a typical P Bass, for instance. But you won’t get a nut measurement like a Jazz on any of them (although speaking personally, a slim nut does not a slim neck make. I don’t think Jazzes have slim necks, unless you spend all your time on the first few frets).
 

What in your terms is a very shallow neck? I’ve always thought of most Ric necks as narrow rather than incredibly shallow, although there are exceptions (BTW, for reference I’ve played literally hundreds of them). The shallowest I’ve played was maybe my ‘91 CS, although it was still pretty similar to my ‘72s. The slimmest all round was my old ‘71 21 fretter, but good luck finding one of those. C series should be pretty slim, but it depends what your definition of slim is.  You need to play as many as you can and make your own mind up. 

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I have a 4001c64 and I wouldn't call the neck thin, width wise it's sort of like a precision but a bit shallower. I prefer Jazz necks and I always struggle getting used to it when I pick it up but the sound makes it worth the effort.

The old 60's 4001's and c64, v63 and CS have a horseshoe pickup and cap whereas the 4003 has a high gain with push pull cap switching. The toaster is also in a slightly different position. I suppose it depends what sound you're looking for. If you're after a McCartney vibe you'll want the c or v series.

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17 hours ago, 4000 said:

Well relatively speaking, yes, but it depends on your definition of shallow. There are certainly shallower necks out there.
 

See, I think the recent Ric necks are pretty nice, if scaled up a bit from my old ones. The proportions are similar, although mine are definitely shallower. Unless there was something weird about the one you’ve played, or unless they’ve changed them yet again, which is possible, I wouldn’t consider any of the more recent ones I’ve played anything like “baseball bat”. I’ve played some that are, but that was at least 15 years ago, maybe more. The newer ones are typically a fair bit slimmer than a typical P Bass, for instance. But you won’t get a nut measurement like a Jazz on any of them (although speaking personally, a slim nut does not a slim neck make. I don’t think Jazzes have slim necks, unless you spend all your time on the first few frets).
 

What in your terms is a very shallow neck? I’ve always thought of most Ric necks as narrow rather than incredibly shallow, although there are exceptions (BTW, for reference I’ve played literally hundreds of them). The shallowest I’ve played was maybe my ‘91 CS, although it was still pretty similar to my ‘72s. The slimmest all round was my old ‘71 21 fretter, but good luck finding one of those. C series should be pretty slim, but it depends what your definition of slim is.  You need to play as many as you can and make your own mind up. 

Well, with regard to neck shape...I have an  John Birch Rick copy from 1973 and thats really lovely. It's more or less the same width as a P but there's much less weight in the 'shoulders' of the neck- if thats the correct term. So the profile is like a shallow U as opposed to a C.  I think I shall take your advice and try and play as many as possible. It's finding C64's and C63's that seems to be the killer. Not very common. 

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Friend of mine in Scotland had a John Birch Rickenbacker. It was thin and light, and the neck was very skinny, as I recall. It was astoundingly playable, and cost a fortune.

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25 minutes ago, songofthewind said:

Friend of mine in Scotland had a John Birch Rickenbacker. It was thin and light, and the neck was very skinny, as I recall. It was astoundingly playable, and cost a fortune.

Mine is very playable too! I have absolutely no idea what it's worth. It's beautifully built and the pickups are truly wonderful.

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, W1_Pro said:

Well, with regard to neck shape...I have an  John Birch Rick copy from 1973 and thats really lovely. It's more or less the same width as a P but there's much less weight in the 'shoulders' of the neck- if thats the correct term. So the profile is like a shallow U as opposed to a C.  I think I shall take your advice and try and play as many as possible. It's finding C64's and C63's that seems to be the killer. Not very common. 

A friend had a John Birch copy which I was desperate to get my hands on (had always fancied one) but when I played it I didn’t  like it at all. The neck was a little bigger than my ’72s, but it was the weight and the sound; it was far heavier than my Rics and had nothing of the sound that I love. Of all the thousands of basses I’ve played, it was one of the ones I liked least. It was an incredible disappointment, although others may be more to my taste, I don’t know.
I’d try playing everything, not just C Series, but I suspect the nearest to what you’re after might be from pre-‘73 (or an early V or CS). As I stated earlier, the pre-73 necks have a wider, flatter feel. 
It’s a long time since I played a C and I think I’ve only played 2; unlike you I’m not keen on the reverse headstock so never had too much thought for buying one, although I do remember the second one I played sounded very good. 
Of course either way it won’t be cheap, but I would advise playing first.

Edited by 4000

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I have a couple of 4003 basses and of course, one is flatter and one is rounder. The difference with a Precision or Jazz is they GET FAT at the 7th fret on up. I try to adapt and that is a knack the really clever players ( like Macca and Ox ) have . 

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 I love a parallel neck (Rics, Alembics) but I learned to play on one, so for me it’s the most natural. Obviously for anyone who didn’t, I imagine it can feel weird. 
I struggle with the taper of most basses; because I prefer narrow string spacing the whole ‘narrow at one end, wide at the other’ thing is really of no use to me, I don’t want it to be wide anywhere!

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Ahh... the lovely Rickenbirchers. They are one shiny object of bass desire that I’ve never had the opportunity to experience. I suspect they were made to look like Rics but not necessarily play or sound like them. I recall Tony Wilson of Hot Chocolate had a beautiful example  

image.jpeg.c20873eb70f536c90cd8db5acce04848.jpeg

 

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10 minutes ago, EMG456 said:

Ahh... the lovely Rickenbirchers. They are one shiny object of bass desire that I’ve never had the opportunity to experience. I suspect they were made to look like Rics but not necessarily play or sound like them. I recall Tony Wilson of Hot Chocolate had a beautiful example  

image.jpeg.c20873eb70f536c90cd8db5acce04848.jpeg

 

The one I tried, which my friend lent me for a while, did indeed sound nothing at all like a Ric, nor did it really feel like one, which was probably the point. 

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3 hours ago, EMG456 said:

Ahh... the lovely Rickenbirchers. They are one shiny object of bass desire that I’ve never had the opportunity to experience. I suspect they were made to look like Rics but not necessarily play or sound like them. I recall Tony Wilson of Hot Chocolate had a beautiful example  

image.jpeg.c20873eb70f536c90cd8db5acce04848.jpeg

 

Heres a pic of mine. Found it  in a music shop in Swansea in about 1984. Needed a refret. The star markings on the fingerboard are well glam rock I've always thought.  The pickups are John Birch's own model. What later became known as the hyperflux I think. The electronics are idiosyncratic to say the least, but it plays well, and I've just restrung it with some tapes, and it sounds very pleasing. Much better with light gauge or low tension strings, as theres very little mass behind the heel of the neck, so it does tend to sit forward a bit. 

fullsizeoutput_1c73.jpeg

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5 hours ago, 4000 said:

A friend had a John Birch copy which I was desperate to get my hands on (had always fancied one) but when I played it I didn’t  like it at all. The neck was a little bigger than my ’72s, but it was the weight and the sound; it was far heavier than my Rics and had nothing of the sound that I love. Of all the thousands of basses I’ve played, it was one of the ones I liked least. It was an incredible disappointment, although others may be more to my taste, I don’t know.
I’d try playing everything, not just C Series, but I suspect the nearest to what you’re after might be from pre-‘73 (or an early V or CS). As I stated earlier, the pre-73 necks have a wider, flatter feel. 
It’s a long time since I played a C and I think I’ve only played 2; unlike you I’m not keen on the reverse headstock so never had too much thought for buying one, although I do remember the second one I played sounded very good. 
Of course either way it won’t be cheap, but I would advise playing first.

Righto then. Pre 73. I'll keep my eyes peeled. I quite like the idea of that as it goes, they were the ones with the crushed oyster shell position markers I think? Very tasty.

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1 hour ago, W1_Pro said:

Righto then. Pre 73. I'll keep my eyes peeled. I quite like the idea of that as it goes, they were the ones with the crushed oyster shell position markers I think? Very tasty.

Yes, crushed pearl. And checkered/chequered binding. Like these:

 

FAA4E31F-D906-406B-A23B-9FF311D98756.png

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26 minutes ago, 4000 said:

Yes, crushed pearl. And checkered/chequered binding. Like these:

 

FAA4E31F-D906-406B-A23B-9FF311D98756.png

I say. Ding dong...

 

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Just in answer to the neck profile thing, a few years back I owned a 4003; gotta say while I didn't mind the neck as such, but there was very little (if at all) tapering in its entire length...pretty much the same from the nut up to the dusty end. 

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56 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

Just in answer to the neck profile thing, a few years back I owned a 4003; gotta say while I didn't mind the neck as such, but there was very little (if at all) tapering in its entire length...pretty much the same from the nut up to the dusty end. 

That’s what I love about them.

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31 minutes ago, 4000 said:

That’s what I love about them.

It always make me laugh the amount of things that suit peoples requirements...maybe it's just my shovel sized hands, but all these questions kind of kill me, 'What's the nut width/neck radius/neck profile/fingerboard material, body material?'  It's a nonsense.  We've already proved at two recent bashes that in blind tests players can't tell the difference between any basses or even pick their own out in a shootout (sorry, @prowla).  I've played hundreds of basses over the last three decades and all that's really important is the constituant elements that contribute the to overall plays like buttah experience; strings, plectrums, low action, adjustability and whether I actually like what the forking thing looks like.

Back on track, I didn't have an issue with the 4003 at all, it was just a bit odd the very first time I picked it up after it was delivered, but thereafter I wasn't going, 'Oh boo hoo, why doesn't this feel like anything else I've got.'

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