Setting intonation on a Rickenbacker bass

JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2121
A new set of strings forced me to fiinally adjust the truss rods on my 4001. It all went off fine and the neck is now optimally adjusted (according to Joey's Rickenbacker Pages, which have disappeared!) and this allows me to set the action very low which is fine. But.. this fiddling about has resulted in the intonation drifting on the E and A strings. When I come to adjust it I find that the screws are partially hidden as the action is now so low.

Is there any trick to setting the intonation or is it a case of raising the action high enough to reveal the adjustment screws? If I did this, would the subsequent lowering of the bridge cause any drift in the intonation again?
0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Comments

  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 460
    Any adjustment of truss rod or string height will require an intonation reset unfortunately.

    I haven't a clue about a work-around for the hidden screws though.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    JezWynd said:

    Is there any trick to setting the intonation or is it a case of raising the action high enough to reveal the adjustment screws?
    Yes - just raise the bridge as high as it will go without coming off the screws, adjust the saddles, then lower it again. It's a bit of a faff - you may have to raise it and lower it more than once - but once done it shouldn't need doing again unless you change string type/gauge.
    "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."
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2793
    JezWynd said:
    Is there any trick to setting the intonation or is it a case of raising the action high enough to reveal the adjustment screws? 
    There is an aftermarket product that substitutes Allen headed screws for the original intonation screws. The idea is that it is possible to engage an Allen key without the need to raise the entire saddle section of the bridge. In reality, the task is still easier with the saddle section raised, as described by ICBM.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2121
    Thanks everyone for your replies, I'll follow @ICBM's advice. It's a real faff to get a screwdriver in there even with the bridge raised, @Funkfingers suggestion of allen key replacements sounds tempting but Ric parts are so eye wateringly expensive I'll just go with it as it is.

    The bridge assembly is the old style 3 retaining screw model and was already lifted up slightly when I received it, which freaked me out enough to get the 5 screw version as a backup just in case. It's stayed very stable so no need to swap it in, although the string break angle over the saddles is very slight (15 degrees approx). If I was to swap in the new bridge plate and so increase the string break angle, would I notice any difference sonically?
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    Probably. I fixed my lifting original tailpiece by adding a new part, like a miniature Fender bridge, which is mounted in the recess under the tailpiece and screwed directly to the body. Purists will disapprove, no doubt - but after straightening the bridge when I got the bass, it had begun to lift again after about five years, so I decided to cure it permanently. It did noticeably increase the attack and punch of the tone.

    To be perfectly honest, and much as I love my Rick, I have to say that the Hipshot replacement bridge is a much better piece of engineering, if you can live with the way it looks.
    "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."
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2121
    Thanks @ICBM. You're quite right, the Hipshot is a much better mechanism, esp when it comes to adjustments but it's a really horrible looking lump it has to be said. Plus I do like the option of having the built in mute, however infrequently I actually use it! I think I'll live with the original as it is for now but maybe at next string change I'll swap the bridge for the 5 screw version. I've read there's a trick using washers under the plate to stop the bridge folding and as I found some washers in the case when it arrived it may be that they've been fitted to try and halt the lifting - it hasn't worsened since it arrived, it's 5mm off the body at the tip of the bridge assembly.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    5mm is a lot. I fixed mine when it was no more than half that - and it's a five-screw bridge anyway, so it will already have been replaced at some point.

    I'm not sure the washers really help - the problem is simply that the strings pull upwards on the back of the tailpiece, as a result of the break angle.

    This is my solution...



    It's actually made from a piece of Peavey speaker grille trim strip! Just what was to hand and a convenient size. It's notched so the 'ribs' of the tailpiece casting fit down tightly onto it.

    The strings now pass through the original holes in the tailpiece, then through the holes in this piece, then upwards to the bridge saddles, so the upward pull is now taken by this.

    Completely invisible when the tailpiece is fitted of course - unless you look backwards into the string tunnels.
    "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."
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2121
    ICBM said:
    5mm is a lot. I fixed mine when it was no more than half that - and it's a five-screw bridge anyway, so it will already have been replaced at some point.

    I'm not sure the washers really help - the problem is simply that the strings pull upwards on the back of the tailpiece, as a result of the break angle.
    So having the additional 2 fixing screws doesn't cure the problem.

    The washers (i'm sure you know this) are supposed to stop the bridge folding by filling the void under the plate where the fold occurs, though I agree that it's moot whether it works as it's the tail lifting that's causing the problem. It's only likely to halt any serious folding later on by which time it's too late to recover anyway except by straightening.

    It's a pretty dumb design flaw that they should have addressed definitively years ago. I like your fix - it takes the stress of the strings completely off the bridge. The simplest solution for Ric while retaining the aesthetics would be to drill a couple of screws into the body that slot into the underside of the bridge plate, something that would require only a slight reworking of the underside of the plate.

    Here's a pic of my bridge showing lift and the break of strings over saddles -


    I've just measured it accurately and it's 4mm but as you can see, the string break is really shallow. I'm uncertain how it affects the sound (never had a ric before) and it plays and sounds better than any bass I've had previously (even more so since I straightened the neck to spec). I've no complaints about sustain or note clarity which I'd have thought might be affected but, as I say, it's my first so I've nothing to measure against. As I'm content with it I should just leave it alone but I'm going to replace the cap on the bridge pu shortly so I thought I'd take the time to get everything tip top.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    That's really bad. It will affect the tone and punch quite noticeably - mine did and it was far less bent. When I straightened it the bass sounded much better, even the first time before I added the new piece.

    That one is so bent that straightening it without cracking it may be difficult, so if you're going to replace it anyway I wouldn't try.
    "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."
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2121
    ICBM said:
    That's really bad. It will affect the tone and punch quite noticeably - mine did and it was far less bent. When I straightened it the bass sounded much better, even the first time before I added the new piece.

    That one is so bent that straightening it without cracking it may be difficult, so if you're going to replace it anyway I wouldn't try.
    Interesting, thanks. I'll swap the new plate in and take from there.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2793
    JezWynd said:


    I've just measured it accurately and it's 4mm 
    That makes the 1.5mm gap on my '77 4001 seem good. 
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2121
    Just fitted the 5 screw replacement. Still a rise at the rear of the bridge. Before the strings put tension on it, it was less than half what it currently shows, which is approx 1.5mm. The only time I notice a real difference in tone is when the Hi Band Flanger is engaged - it sounds richer, more defined. Playing sans effects, I'm not hearing much different, maybe a slightly more defined attack. String break is still really shallow, due to the action set low I guess, but there's zero fret buzz so all good.


    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Sign In or Register to comment.