Ricky basses, are they as bad as this guy suggests?

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RockerRocker Frets: 2154
Seems this guy has a 'thing' with Ricky basses:



[Found this on Basschat, apologies if it was posted here before]
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    Inexplicably expensive - check
    Small fret wire that could not withstand round wound strings - check
    Stoopid, low quality POS bridge/tailpiece/mute design - check
    Annoying machineheads - check
    Distinctive tone - check

    People tolerate all of the crappy aspects to get that distinctive sound.

    Having said that, Geddy Lee tells a story of all the fan mail compliments that he received for the tone of his Rick on the Rush album, "Moving Pictures". Ironically, all but one of the songs featured Geddy's black Fender Jazz Bass.

    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 8519
    many of my iconic albums have Rickerbacker bass on them (Rush, Yes, Marillion etc). The definitive Prog bass. 
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  • StrangefanStrangefan Frets: 1899
    Wow, he is not a majestic story teller. 
    www.deadhappyband.com
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8745
    edited August 6
    I know @ICBM will get on my case.... but....

    I have thought about getting one for years, and haven't, because I don't think it would add anything to my collection and dare I say it, I think they are a bit anachronistic..
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    anachronistic
    That summaries Rickenbacker in one word. They have been making instruments the same way for decades ... and ... they are proud of it.

    Some Rick idiosyncrasies are not detectable in photographs. They only become apparent during ownership. i.e. After you have parted with yo' money. That is why Dave is hacked off. 

    The reason why I own a 4001 is because, like the Fender Jaguar, nothing else makes those sounds. (The Geddy thing is mainly down to his picking hand technique.)
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 1683
    I wish they'd make a short scale version 4003. Heresy, I know.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    I haven't watched the video, but given how popular they are, and have been for decades across probably more styles of music than any other bass except the P, J and probably the Stingray, if he thinks they're no good then the problem isn't in the bass.

    The Rick 4001/4003 is one of the best, most flexible-sounding basses there is. They are anachronistic only in the same way as the Precision and Jazz, in that there were perfected early on so there has been no need to change almost anything about them.

    Inexplicably expensive - check
    Nonsense. Not for the quality they are.


    Small fret wire that could not withstand round wound strings - check
    Nonsense. Most Rick players use roundwounds.

    Stoopid, low quality POS bridge/tailpiece/mute design - check
    There is a small amount of truth in that, yes. The casting is not a very high quality metal and they can suffer from 'tail lift' over a period of time.


    Annoying machineheads - check
    Nonsense. They're the same as any other Kluson-type heads. (Or Grovers, on some old ones.)

    Distinctive tone - check
    Absolutely.

    In fact, I will give you a fault you missed - the pickups. They have no hum cancellation as standard, which is unique among professional-quality basses I can think of except for the reissue '51-style P-Bass. It's relatively easy to fix even if you don't want to change the pickups - but the pickups themselves are not the best quality either, it has to be said.

    I admit that mine has humbuckers - a Rick HB1 in the neck and a Kent Armstrong in the bridge. It still sounds just like a Rick though - the distinctive sound is not actually in the pickups, surprisingly.

    For me they are the most perfect of all bass designs and I wouldn't play anything else normally.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Watched the video now.

    What a total load of tedious, moronic, uninformed bollocks. If you want to learn something about Rickenbacker basses, start by *not* wasting fifteen minutes of your life watching this.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8745
    edited August 7
    ICBM said:
    Watched the video now.

    What a total load of tedious, moronic, uninformed bollocks. If you want to learn something about Rickenbacker basses, start by *not* wasting fifteen minutes of your life watching this.
    Shame they don't hum cancel tho, hmm?







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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Bridgehouse said:

    Shame they don't hum cancel tho, hmm?







    Yes.

    You can RWRP the bridge pickup on a 4003 easily, because the magnet is only held in place by the screws that attach the coil to the baseplate, so you can flip it and swap the coil connections - instant hum cancelling, although only when both pickups are on and at the same volume… still useful though - essentially the same as a Jazz Bass.

     In my opinion it's a huge oversight on an otherwise professional-quality instrument, but they won't change it… John Hall says it affects the tone. He's wrong - I recorded my bass before and after at full WAV resolution - there was no audible difference.

    Funny that this idiot doesn't even mention it - unless I fell asleep at some point :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8745
    I must admit, they look beautiful, sound great, but like a lot of Rics they have some odd design choices.

    Bit like the intonation screw positions in that bridge - I mean, I know my P basses are only bent plate bridges, but I could adjust intonation with a Birmingham screwdriver on them :)
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    I must admit, they look beautiful, sound great, but like a lot of Rics they have some odd design choices.

    Bit like the intonation screw positions in that bridge - I mean, I know my P basses are only bent plate bridges, but I could adjust intonation with a Birmingham screwdriver on them :)
    The point of the over-tall bridge height screws is so that you can wind the bridge up nice and high, adjust the intonation, then lower it back down. OK it's a bit of a faff compared to a Fender, yes - but once set right it really never needs adjusting much.

    Clearly he did not know this either… or that the narrow truss rod access rout isn't a problem if you use the correct tool - a nut driver rather than an angled socket wrench. It's easy to be angry and dismissive when you don't bother to learn the right way to do something.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8745
    ICBM said:
    I must admit, they look beautiful, sound great, but like a lot of Rics they have some odd design choices.

    Bit like the intonation screw positions in that bridge - I mean, I know my P basses are only bent plate bridges, but I could adjust intonation with a Birmingham screwdriver on them :)
    The point of the over-tall bridge height screws is so that you can wind the bridge up nice and high, adjust the intonation, then lower it back down. OK it's a bit of a faff compared to a Fender, yes - but once set right it really never needs adjusting much.

    Clearly he did not know this either… or that the narrow truss rod access rout isn't a problem if you use the correct tool - a nut driver rather than an angled socket wrench. It's easy to be angry and dismissive when you don't bother to learn the right way to do something.
    I might possibly be winding you up now ;)
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2154
    Any Ricky's I saw in shops were expensive and out of my price league. They look the biz though as do P and J basses. Regarding the problem of string changing on a Ricky, this is a very infrequent procedure anyway so hardly a major problem. Or have I missed something...
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Bridgehouse said:

    I might possibly be winding you up now ;)
    I was wondering, since I assumed you knew that :).

    Worth mentioning for anyone else who took anything the idiot said at face value though ;).

    Rocker said:

    Regarding the problem of string changing on a Ricky, this is a very infrequent procedure anyway so hardly a major problem. Or have I missed something…
    Only that it's exactly the same as on any other bass.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 8745
    Rocker said:
    Any Ricky's I saw in shops were expensive and out of my price league. They look the biz though as do P and J basses. Regarding the problem of string changing on a Ricky, this is a very infrequent procedure anyway so hardly a major problem. Or have I missed something...
    I dunno, minor inconvenience once every 10 years is a show stopper for me...
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    edited August 7
    One of the great ironies of Dave's World Of Fun Stuff videos is that our hero spends the majority of his time slagging off something or someone. e.g. "Customer brought this mess for me to sort out. That customer is such an asshole." It is not all that often that the viewers get to witness Dave having any fun. So, you might wonder, who is the 'hole?
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • polotskapolotska Frets: 36
    edited August 7
    @ICBM — curious if you might elaborate on the sound of your bass with the pickups replaced. I’ve toyed with the idea of picking up a 4003 and replacing the pickups with the Rickenbacker humbuckers, as I like the Rickenbacker bass sound but am quite averse to hum.
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  • girya32girya32 Frets: 5
    I bought one to try it out, hated the bridge, changed that, still found it a clunky thing compared to a jazz, sold it after 2 months. They look lovely, but like all guitars there's that marmite element to your choice. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    polotska said:
    @ICBM — curious if you might elaborate on the sound of your bass with the pickups replaced. I’ve toyed with the idea of picking up a 4003 and replacing the pickups with the Rickenbacker humbuckers, as I like the Rickenbacker bass sound but am quite averse to hum.
    It doesn't sound very much different. I think the characteristic tone is more to do with the construction of the bass than the pickups.

    The neck pickup (Rick HB1) is a little thicker than a High-Gain - for a while I had it wired in parallel to sound more like a Toaster, but it lacked a bit of thump so I put it back to series.

    The bridge pickup is a happy accident - it's a Kent Armstrong guitar humbucker from the neck position of an Eggle New York Broadway - it happened to fit, so I thought I would try it. It's a 7K humbucker so quite low-wound. I don't know if it's even available any more, but it shouldn't be too hard to find something similar - it's quite like a Firebird mini-humbucker. It did need the baseplate drilling to fit, but no other mods. (When I got the bass it had been drilled anyway, for Bartolinis.)

    I would definitely recommend something like this if you want a Rick but don't like hum - it's a better solution overall than the RWRP bridge pickup since all the sounds are now hum-cancelling. The only real problem is that the Rick HB-1 can be hard to get, and nothing else perfectly fits the pickguard.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 455
    Who cares how easy they are to adjust when you're playing one?
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  • flyingvflyingv Frets: 125
    edited August 11
    Had a 75 4001 Fireglo' fantastic bass.


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  • BorkBork Frets: 79
    F'ckin awful instruments - uncomfortable and dysfunctional, they lack versatility, and in my opinion the CEO John Hall is an arrogant arse.  Avoid them if you have alternatives.  even the Japanese made rips offs are better built although you might want to upgrade the pickups.
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 455
    Bork said:
    F'ckin awful instruments - uncomfortable and dysfunctional, they lack versatility, and in my opinion the CEO John Hall is an arrogant arse.  Avoid them if you have alternatives.  even the Japanese made rips offs are better built although you might want to upgrade the pickups.
    That was all exactly the opposite of reality, apart from JH being arrogant.

    Ric are the best basses in the world.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Bork said:
    F'ckin awful instruments - uncomfortable and dysfunctional, they lack versatility, and in my opinion the CEO John Hall is an arrogant arse.  Avoid them if you have alternatives.  even the Japanese made rips offs are better built although you might want to upgrade the pickups.
    John Hall is certainly arrogant, that is true.

    Comfort is personal preference I admit, but for me they are the most comfortable bass, which is mainly why I play one.

    Lack versatility? Just look at the range of players and music genres they've been used in, from the 50s to the present. They are one of the *most* versatile basses.

    Japanese copies better quality? Rick quality can be a little variable, but there's no copy I've ever seen which is even close. That may be because RIC is so keen on legal action - it's probably not worth the trouble of anyone setting up for a decent quality production run, since they're likely to get sued immediately. Whether that's the right way to deal with competition or not is another question... but a licenced copy range will never happen while JH is in charge.

    I'm not a big fan of the company, but to say the basses (and guitars for that matter) are no good is simply plain wrong.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BorkBork Frets: 79
    edited August 11
    ICBM said:
    Bork said:
    F'ckin awful instruments - uncomfortable and dysfunctional, they lack versatility, and in my opinion the CEO John Hall is an arrogant arse.  Avoid them if you have alternatives.  even the Japanese made rips offs are better built although you might want to upgrade the pickups.
    John Hall is certainly arrogant, that is true.

    Comfort is personal preference I admit, but for me they are the most comfortable bass, which is mainly why I play one.

    Lack versatility? Just look at the range of players and music genres they've been used in, from the 50s to the present. They are one of the *most* versatile basses.

    Japanese copies better quality? Rick quality can be a little variable, but there's no copy I've ever seen which is even close. That may be because RIC is so keen on legal action - it's probably not worth the trouble of anyone setting up for a decent quality production run, since they're likely to get sued immediately. Whether that's the right way to deal with competition or not is another question... but a licenced copy range will never happen while JH is in charge.

    I'm not a big fan of the company, but to say the basses (and guitars for that matter) are no good is simply plain wrong.
    Let's be clear, I'm only talking about the basses.  Not guitars.

    They're not comfortable because those body edges dig into the ribs and forearm in an unpleasant way and they aren't designed for playing with fingers - which doesn't mean to say that it would prevent someone playing with fingers. All the players I can think of who are known for playing Rickenbackers have used a pick.

    Not versatile because no-one ever chose to play one in a function/covers band because they could nail the sound on a lot of songs unless they were doing prog or Jam.  When was the last time anyone saw someone slap on a Rickenbacker?  It sounds dreadful not only due to the electronics but also the string spacing.  No, definitely not versatile.

    The build quality (including design) is not brilliant - particularly the finishing and the bridge.  JH only started enforcing a claim relatively recently (since inheriting the company).  He even went after places selling secondhand Rickenbacker copies that were made before he started to enforce.  Copies that were already on the market, made in the 70's and 80's by Ibanez, Hondo, Tokai, Univox, Electra and Greco amongst others.  Some were not so good but the Ibanez ones were on a par (apart from pickups) and the Tokai versions were arguably better finished than Rickenbacker's own.

    Sure, they've got a distinctive sound and there's a place for them in musical history but let's not kid ourselves that these basses have ever the first choice of session pro's since they stopped being fashionable in the 70's. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Bork said:

    They're not comfortable because those body edges dig into the ribs and forearm in an unpleasant way and they aren't designed for playing with fingers - which doesn't mean to say that it would prevent someone playing with fingers. All the players I can think of who are known for playing Rickenbackers have used a pick.
    Wrong. It's the most comfortable bass shape for me, the edges do not dig in, and I play with fingers as much or more than with a pick. So do a lot of players.

    Bork said:

    Not versatile because no-one ever chose to play one in a function/covers band because they could nail the sound on a lot of songs unless they were doing prog or Jam.
    Wrong. You can get just about any bass sound out of a Rick with the right amp.

    Bork said:

    When was the last time anyone saw someone slap on a Rickenbacker?  It sounds dreadful not only due to the electronics but also the string spacing.
    Slap sounds dreadful, period. Don't blame the bass ;).

    Bork said:

    No, definitely not versatile.
    Wrong. Just look at the number of different players in different genres who have used them.

    Bork said:

    The build quality (including design) is rubbish - particularly the finishing and the bridge.
    Wrong. The bridge does have a slight issue with the metal being too weak and sometimes suffering from 'tail lift' as they get older, but the finishing is excellent.

    Bork said:

    JH only started staking a claim relatively recently (since inheriting the company).
    Wrong, it started in the 1960s under F.C. Hall. They would never be able to defend them now if they hadn't done since the beginning either - that's exactly why Fender have lost most of theirs.

    Bork said:

    The copies I'm referring to were made in the 70's and 80's by Ibanez, Hondo, Tokai, Univox, Electra and Greco amongst others.  Some were not so good but the Ibanez ones were on a par and the Tokai versions were better than Rickenbacker's own.
    Wrong. I've worked on many of them, and although the Ibanez ones are definitely the best they're still not in the same league as the real thing. The Tokai ones aren't as good.

    You probably don't like Ricks because they don't suit you for whatever reason, but you're still wrong on every point :). I really dislike all modern basses made from fancy woods and with active electronics that I've ever played, but I wouldn't claim they're no good or not the right choice for some players...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • lasermonkeylasermonkey Frets: 798
    My Ric 4001 is my go-to bass precisely because it's so versatile. If I could only have one bass, it would be the Ric.
    My wife asked me to stop singing Wonderwall.
    I said maybe.....
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    ICBM said:
    the Ibanez ones are definitely the best they're still not in the same league as the real thing. 
    I have to agree with this.

    ICBM said:
    You probably don't like Ricks because they don't suit you for whatever reason
    I bought my 4001 from an old friend. I soon had to stop myself from using it on everything. It was slanting my writing in ways that were not always appropriate for the songs. Sometimes, eighth note roots on a P Bass suffice.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 455
    My 2010 Ric has a finish I would put up against any mass-produced guitar.

    The neck is a delight.

    Questioning John Hall's credentials is funny - he was brought up on the company from the start; his mum designed the Ric logo!

    I doubt very much that he would be a friend of mine, but I respect the way he defends his brand (as do other companies, be they designer clothes, electronic gadgets, watches, car makers, drinks producers, or any other premium products, groups & artists, and so-on). It is far more responsible to his customers than allowing the market to be flooded with fakes which you can hardly tell from the original and you can't trust anybody selling one (I'm thinking Fender and Gibson); put a Ric up next to any 'faker and you can tell them apart.

    They are good for plectrum and fingerstyle; however, I would agree that the 4001 is not so good for slap, because of (a) the position of the neck pickup and (b) the pickguard is slightly microphonic if you tap it with your popping finger.

    Stereotyping them as only being suitable for the genres of a couple of memorable players (prog and The Jam) is a bit myopic; Macca played one in The Beatles and Wings, I watched a Kinks gig from '65 on TV and Peter Quaife was playing one, a number of punk bands had them, Kasabian and other modern bands have them, Deep Purple (unless you call them prog), Maurice Gibb used one.

    Me, I like the 'fakers; I think they're fun, but put one next to a real Ric and the quality of the Ric will be obvious. I'm not sure the vintage ones are any sort of a threat to Ric, but I guess he's just being even-handed in the approach to them; if the product infringed intellectual rights when it was produced 30 years ago, does it matter that 30 years have now passed?

    On the minus side, though I like its quirky design, I think the build of the bridge is poor and they really could have and should have sorted it; I've got a Hipshot on one.
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