The Rickenbacker bass guitar was born in 1957 with the introduction of the single pick up 4000 4 string bass.
Rickenbacker’s design philosophy was completely different to that of Leo Fenders. The Rickenbacker bass used a neck through body construction which provides enhanced tone and sustain. Rickenbacker introduced the 4001 bass in 1961 which was a deluxe version of the 4000 as it featured a two pick up system. The neck pick up gave the instrument more flexibility and bass response, It had triangle inlays with a bound body and neck . They added a pick up selector and added volume and tone controls for the neck pick up. In 1971 Rickenbacker added the famous Rick-o-Sound stereo capability. This feature allows for separate outputs of the bass and treble position pickups through a stereo “Y Splitter” lead. This can be useful to create a stereo effect with two amps, special effects with a single multi channel amp, or create a bi-amp setup.
The 4001 bass was discontinued in the mid 1980’s due to the fact that a few years earlier Rickenbacker had introduced the 4003.
The 4003 bass is an improved version of the famous 4001, due to the thin neck of the 4001 and the fact that there was actually very little wood around the truss rod cavity at the headstock. The bass could have problems with the use of round wound bass strings due to the extra tension. Round wound strings are very poplar on Rickenbacker particularly Rotosound swing bass as they give the Rickenbacker that bright punchy sound. The 4003 was designed to resolve this issue by adding extra thickness to the whole neck resulting in a more substantial feel. Rickenbacker also improved the dual truss rod system and improved the neck lamination’s to make the neck stronger so they could cope with the use of round wound bass strings. In 1986 Rickenbacker removed the 0.0047 mf capacitor that was wired in series to the bridge pickup. This results in the bass having more bass frequencies and a little more volume from the bridge pick up. However many players saw this as backward step as it reduced the attack and brightness associated with 4001.
In 2006 Rickenbacker added a push/pull pot so you could engage this replaced capacitor so you get that classic Rickenbacker sound that many players wanted . So with a Rickenbacker 4003 bass made from 2006 onwards you will get even greater flexibility that you would if you bought an older model. So when it comes to buying a Rickenbacker bass if you want a ultra thin neck, bright percussive response with great attack any 4001 bass will fit the bill. If you want more tonal flexibility both vintage attack with the option of more bass response then in my book you cannot beat the 4003 from 2006 onwards. The difference is in the neck with the 4003 basses having a slightly rounder and thicker neck.
The Hall family, who own Rickenbacker, make every instrument in the time honored way of tradition craftsmanship. They have never made any instruments outside the USA and produce these fine instruments with care and dedication. They make instruments using the best materials in their time honored way of manufacturing. They are in my opinion unique sounding and the best looking bass guitar on the planet. Bass players tend to own many basses which are similar and do the same things, but I think every bass player should have one a least one Rickenbacker in his collection. The Rickenbacker bass guitars that are listed in this section will consist of 4001 and 4003