The Most Annoying Bass Ever Made?! The Rickenbacker

in Gear

The Most Annoying Bass Ever Made?! The Rickenbacker

Outrageous shape, neck-through body construction, 33.5-inch scale length and magnetic horseshoe pickups? Sure, a Rickenbacker bass looks a bit nuts, but it’s a stone-cold classic bass that can cut through the most unfriendly band mix. Don’t believe us? Well, in today’s video we unravel the story behind our Rick-Revolution! Including how you can WIN the Rickenbacker 4003 Scott’s playing in this video.

Quirky and clanky, Rickenbacker basses have simultaneously charmed and annoyed bass players since their launch in the 50s. Paul McCartney. Lemmy. Chris Squire. Chris Wolstenholme. Cliff Burton. John Entwistle. Phil Lynott. Robert Trujillo. Geezer Butler. At some point or other, these and many other household-name bass players have wielded a Rickenbacker 4001 (1961-82) or its successor the 4003 (’82 to date), and what a joyous noise they make, too.

The original Rickenbacker made its debut in 1957 and caused a stir with its visually stunning ‘crested wave’ body cutaways. With a crude bridge assembly, a re-design was inevitable. In 1961, the 4001 was released as a deluxe version of the 4000, in much the same way as the Fender Jazz Bass had been introduced as a deluxe version of the Precision a year earlier. In place of dots, the neck was given triangular inlays made of a ‘crushed-pearl’ material that sparkled when they caught the lights. A second pickup was also added towards the neck. In 1982, the 4001 was replaced by an updated version dubbed the Rickenbacker 4003.

The fact that these basses still look cool today, proves that style is key to the success of any instrument. Yet, strangely enough, the basic design was flawed - it’s all down to power emphasis with the ‘main’ pickup being of higher output than the neck unit. Also, the unusual horseshoe magnet that surrounds the main centre body pickup not only produced a powerful and unique sound, it also restricted the amount of string height adjustment. Heavier pick players using roundwound strings would get a degree of fret buzz and, with the lesser powered bridge pickup, the resulting sound was exaggerated and became the trademark Rickenbacker ‘clank’.

Ian’s Bass – Rickenbacker 4001S

Originally produced between 1964 and 1969 as a cheaper version of the 4001, the 4001S is basically a 4000 model with 4001 pickups and wiring. It differs from the 4001 in having no body or neck binding and dots instead of triangular position markers. Due partly to the association with Paul McCartney’s left-handed version, an original 4001S is now worth considerably more than its deluxe stablemate. In fact, it’s probably the most valuable Rickenbacker on the vintage market.

Scott’s Bass – Rickenbacker 4003

With great finish names like Fireglo, Mapleglo and Jetglo, the Rickenbacker 4003 has cemented itself a spot in music history. Introduced in 1982 in place of the Rickenbacker 4001, the 4003 features a wider neck profile, an improved truss rod system and a stereo output...and we're giving one away! Enter our FREE Giveaway now for a chance to WIN a bass and help us build a school in an under-resourced nation.

Sign up

Scott Devine profile shot
Students consistently overestimate how much they can achieve in one week… but drastically underestimate how much they can achieve within a year with the right guidance and support. Scott Devine, Head Honcho

Sign up today and you’ll get:

  • Full instant access
  • Pay nothing for 14 days
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Incredible support

Cost Comparison

Education can be expensive. But mistakes and wasted time is far more costly.

  • Music Academy $42,000 / yr
  • Private lessons $2,600 / yr
Start your free trial