8/06/2015

1981 Rickenbacker 4001 Electric Bass Guitar




It's funny when stuff like this just walks in the door for consignment. I happen to love the look of Ricki basses and really enjoy the "two on" pickup sound on these long-scale 4001s. This particular bass (one owner) was played in an all-girl punk band in the 80s and various metal-style outfits. When it came in it had the obligatory electrical tape stripes and funky stickers all over! It was also quite dirty, needed fret and truss work, and a bunch of electrical tidying-up.

The bottom line is that this beast sounds/plays great after work. It doesn't hurt that it's easy on the eyes and is all-original save for the missing bridge pickup cover and strap-lock strap buttons. The serial dates it to March of '81.



It's harder to see exactly in the photos, but this bass is certainly not "pristine." It's got a bunch of playwear and usewear, though the fundamentals are in good order. It's a standard "black trim" 4001 model with the through-neck build and maple body.


The tuners turn backwards just like all the other old Rickis I've played. I had to do a little bit of maintenance on them but they're good to go. I think the string choice on here right now is awfully heavy (feels almost like 110w or 115w on the low E?) so I've got something more standard on order.

This bass had a "warped neck" issue when it came in due to years of neglect. I finagled the truss rods into functional service, nixed the warp for the most part, and leveled/dressed the frets. When tuned to pitch (even with these thick strings), relief is about 1/64" or so with room to fuss with the truss. So -- spot-on. I couldn't be happier that it snapped back into service, but I suppose that's what having dual truss rods is for!


The rosewood board has medium-ish frets with a nice steeper radius. The board itself has a "bar finish" applied over it like other Rickis and cool triangular pearloid inlays. The back of the neck is a quick C shape and combined with that radius it feels quick as heck.


Both strap buttons are equipped with strap lock features -- a must for gigging with such a brute. The bass comes with a nice big old leather strap and the other ends of these locks.


This bass really cleaned-up very nice after work -- I was surprised.



All the electronics work and I managed to rescue a wonky 3-way switch to bring it back to regular functionality.


There's that big old "high mass" bridge along with the adjustable mute strip, if you like that stuff (I do -- I like to mix flatwounds with a bit of muting foam on electrics to get that thuddy-bum sound).


The individual saddles had been worn/filed down so that proper intonation was difficult to achieve. I built their slots back up and now she plays in tune.



How about that buckle/body wear? Lovely. Who needs to "relic" something when there's stuff like this floating about?



Can't argue with the curves...





Anyone else think that without binding this bass might be totally ruined aesthetically?


"Rick-O-Tone" stereo and regular mono jacks...


It comes with a newer hard case...


...big old leather strap with the strap lock ends installed... and an old cable.

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