4003 Review

manufacturer: Rickenbacker date: 06/15/2015 category: Bass Guitars
Rickenbacker: 4003
20 frets, solid body, maple body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, 2 single-coil pickups, 2x volume, 2x tone, 2-way toggle switch.
 Sound: 9.5
 Overall Impression: 9.5
 Reliability & Durability: 8.5
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9.5
 Features: 9.8
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (4) pictures (3) 32 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 10
4003 Featured review by: UG Team, on july 17, 2003
7 of 8 people found this review helpful

Features: The Classic Rickenbacker bass - famous for its ringing sustain, treble punch and solid underlying bass. A subtle strip of binding graces the elegantly curved body and the Rosewood fingerboard. Deluxe triangular inlays and stereo capability are standard features.

1998 USA made jetglo (black) w/ white binding, 20 frets, solid top, 2x volume 2x tone, 2 single-coil pickups (1 treble, 1 bass), 2-way toggle switch, passive electronics, maple body + through neck, schaller deluxe tuners.

Comes complete with hard-shell case. // 10

Sound: Such a warm sound! Each pickup has it's own unique tone which is one of the reasons i prefer this over a P-Bass. It's definately a bass worth showing off. I'd recommend removing the bridge pickup cover, it just gets in the way. You'd be amazed just how effective slapping can be on this bass. I feel I should mention that i'm using a 15-watt Peavey guitar (not bass) amp, which probably doesn't do the rick justice. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: I love the really low action and the ringing sustain, you can get a lot of sound out of it with very little effort. The bridge pickup can be raised or lowered with a screwdriver to adjust the sensitivity. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This bass will surely outlive me. It's built like a tank, but is surprisingly light. The finish is flawless, it even warns in the manual not to use chlorine-based cleaning products as it dissolves the paint. The strap buttons are slightly undersized, which is a problem easily fixed with strap-locks. The neck is brilliant and has not one, but two truss rods. Don't bother bringing along a backup with this baby, you definately won't need it. // 10

Overall Impression: I've been playing bass for 4 or 5 years, and besides the rick, i own a squire P-Bass. I also own a squire telecaster. // 10

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 9
4003 Reviewed by: rikigo, on june 15, 2015
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Features: I purchased my RIC 4003 FG 2015 model in the US, from Australia. The same bass retails here for one and a half times this amount in USD, and twice this amount in AUD. So given the original price plus shipping, it was worth the effort. It is a standard 4003, strung with RIC 45-105's, with a 20-fret maple neck through body model with a rosewood fingerboard. It has a 84.5 cm "medium scale." A buying decision for me, was the dual 3/8" truss-rods, which are now standard, since 1975. The fretboard is inlaid with mother of pearl, in truncated triangular fret-markers. The body has a glossy nitro finish over solid maple. The finish easily takes advantage of the maple timber, especially on the back, to highlight the unique grain patterns. The elongated bout body shape with front-edge white binding, is unique to the Rickenbacker 4000 series. The RIC die-cast tailpiece and bridge is unique, but longer and heavier than my all-in-one Gibson EB-3 Bass. The 4003 Bass comes standard with two pickups, two volume and two tone dials, a three-way selector switch, and wiring for Mono and Stereo Rick-O-Sound (post-1971). One of the tone pots is a push-pull selector switch, which gives a choice of vintage or standard tones. It comes equipped with four RIC Schaller Deluxe non-locking machine heads. It also has Schaller straplocks as standard. Comes with a hard case containing a manual, cloth, hex keys, case keys, warranty (US-only) and RIC sticker. // 9

Sound: I have and will continue to play a variety of styles, principally rock, country, traditional, alternative, pop, mixed with rhythm and blues. The tuning, post new gear wear-in, so far, has been solid, even after leaving the guitar neglected for a few days. I can imagine that I could play it to fit into gig and concert performances with a variety of other instruments with the right sounding amp. It sounds quite different from my Fender P-Bass and Gison EB-3, through my Fender Rumble 350 2x10" 350-Watt Bass Combo, plus my Fender Rumble 30 30W 1x10 Bass Combo Amp and my Orange Crush 25BX practice amp. Re pedals, I tend to use my current basic line-up which include a Boss GE-7, TE-2, MT-2, BF-3, CE-5, a Dunlop Fuzzface abd Vox Wah. None of these are bass specific. My AVID "Fast Track Duo" extends it's capabilities even further with a host of tonal and effects options. Absolutely, no hum, it's sharply resonant and distinct tones, care of the two tonal controls, that swim immersively into rich Bass tones, with the right amp. As this a relatively new instrument I haven't taken it into "the farthest reaches" of gigging and recording that I have with my P-Bass, yet. The best depth to push the GAIN on your amp, is achieved at full volume, as these are passive pickups. Although, even at 3/4 volume, it has demonstrated a range so far, that clearly recreates many of my favourite Brit-'60s rock sounds, as keenly as cloning a complex CURE 'Thunderbird' Bassline. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: As with most Rickenbackers, the factory set-up was matchless. The pups were well set-up and the lower pup cover installed. All the timber-work is CNC routed and the body timber is keenly bookmatched. There have been no apparent flaws in any of the materials or finishes. I have not been required to do my usual strip-down to reset the guitar neck (as on the RIC 4003, it's impossible), body and interiors and rebuild it to the manfacturer's specifications, as it's come from the factory, absolutely flawless. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Rock-solid build, as long as look after the neck through body, which is comparable feature to my Gibson EB-3. The hardware is robust. Straplocks match male Schallers. Although, I have thing about using Ernie Balls on Gibson's, due to their locations, it's no problem with the RIC's. I would find it a thoroughly dependable beast, based on my experience with my RIC 360/6, it's a unique tone but you can never overcome the randomness of gig's, as things break, people trip over gear - nightmares do happen! Finish is robust to last with simple TLC and no solvent-based sprays or chemicals near it. I have learnt my "nitro-cellulose" lessons in my youth! // 8

Overall Impression: This will fit most Rock music but my home-made fretless bass will still have a place, for some of those blues and country numbers requiring a slide-approach. I have been playing since my teen years, so that makes this a vintage observation. I have many other guitars (acoustic and electric), basses and ukes, including uke bass gear, which all gets rotated and added onto at miscellaneous junctures. I swotted up before I bought this bass and I highly recommend "The Rickenbacker Electric Bass: 50 Years as Rock's Bottom," Paul D. Boyer, 2013, Hal Leonard Books. If it were stolen, I'd definitely acquire another one, but only if I could get it at the "right AUD price." I love that it doesn't suffer "dropsy" from the headstock, like other basses that... I need to keep-in-check. My favourite feature is the dual tone and volume controls, the purpose built bridge-tailpiece and it's overall styling from the distinct iconic upper bout and headstock silhouettes. These were hallmarks it's predecessor the Rickenbacker 4001's "crested-wave" body shape which was designed by luthier Roger Rossmeisl for Rickenbacker's original model 4000. I have compared the spec's to my existing Fender P-Bass and to my Gibson EB-3, before I bought it and it demonstrably adds a unique range in the Bass Dept. I may wish, in the future, that it comes with locking tuners after a grueling gig, but I haven't reached that hurdle, yet. The only thing that I feel compelled to test out is comparative set of strings, looks like it might be DR "Hall Balls," next? // 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 9.6
4003 Reviewed by: CaffeineTripp, on june 27, 2006
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Features: My 003 Ric was made in 1994. 33.25" scale, 20 frets on rosewood fretboard with triangle inlays, Schaller tuners, neck-thru design. Single coil pickups that run through either mono or stereo. Maple body that rates up to 9 lbs. Fireglo finish. // 10

Sound: She's quite punchy and the amp can't handle it. Very bright sound, full on the bottom end. Though the Ric doesn't much like being down-tuned, that's alright. Running medium guage Ric strings the bass produces a great sound. Excellent intonation, response, sustain, and tone. No need for any effects pedals. After all, why wreck a Ric's sound? // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: Being bought through eBay, and then sent hundreds of miles to its final destination. The owner of the Ric had the action set too low, GHS Boomers for strings. The bass volume knob did not work. Dings, knicks and scrapes around the head and the body. Though the Ric wasn't taken care of too well, it works much better now having been tuned, strings being replaced, and maintenance on the pickups. The finish was still bright and shiny, however. It does what it says, "glo." // 8

Reliability & Durability: Being 9 lbs., it's sturdy. It could take a beating, but who would allow it? It hasn't failed me in the two months that I've owned it. Always ready to give it's growl at E, and it's sweet melody at g. After 11 years of being played, it holds up to its name and its reputation. This is a Ric, it's meant to be played hard, but with that sense of posh. // 10

Overall Impression: Since playing a Ric years ago, I've been wanting one since. I'm very impressed with everything about this bass. The sound especially. The classic style; never changing. There is no comparison to this bass that I've come across. // 10

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 8.8
4003 Reviewed by: gingerbraface, on march 26, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 1500

Purchased from: eBay

Features: This bass has a 1 piece neck and a 3 piece body (one of those body pieces is the neck piece). The bridge is really, very big. I've not seen a bigger stock bridge before. The pickups are 2 single coils which have no noticeable hum even at when driven. The pickup protector above the bridge pickup may be annoying if you play with a pick. I personally prefer to slap or finger, so it made a good place to rest my thumb or palm. 3 way pickup selector, with separate volume and tone controls for each pickup. Also the infamous "Rick-o-sound" stereo output jack allows for plugging each pickup into a separate am or effects loop. Something I've found myself using quite a bit. Mine came with a hardcase, which was great considering the price I paid! It was brand new in mint condition. Came set up well with a set of 45-105 strings (my favourite!). This bass was pretty much perfect for me out of the box! // 10

Sound: The 4003 is a very distinctive sound. Before purchasing this one, I had played 3. 2 in shops and one that belonged to a fellow bassist. The reason I bring this up is to do with the unique, distinctive "ricky" sound. The 3 I had played prior to this, all sound COMPLETELY different. The first one I played sounded more like a P-bass. It had a very loud neck pickup and a much quiter bridge pickup. The next one I played had roughly the same volume between the pickups, but still didn't have the mid-heavy sound you'd expect. The 3rd one did have the mid heavy sound, but the neck was louder than the bridge again.

So, what does my one sound like? It sounds closest to the 3rd one, though still quite different. Unlike the previous 3, it has a much louder bridge than neck. When I first got it, I was thinking of getting them leveled out. I can quite clearly see the the bridge pickup is slightly higher at the bottom than the top. However, I do really dig the tone it gives off. It's got that "ricky" tone, but with a slightly funky twist. It sounds really nice slapped. Which is something I've always used my P-bass for. I've rambled a bit here, but hopefully I've alerted you to the fact that the sound you get is kind-of pot luck. It makes it a bit hard to rate this section. Mine sounds great, but the others, while also good, varied a bit. Seeing as this is a review of the one I got, I'm going to rate it based on that. It sounds great, though the volume difference is a slight annoyance. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: My god! The sustaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain! I did touch on this briefly in the "features" section. This bass came set up pretty much perfectly. The action is low enough so that it doesn't slow down my playing, but high enough so I can get distinct dynamics out of it without fret-buzz. The strings it came with were 45-105s which are the gauge I like. They suit the bass very well, though I wouldn't blame you if you went for 40-100s. All the frets were flawless! Easily the best finish on frets I've seen from a box fresh bass. All the electronics are really nice and well done. Silent pickup selector (I didn't even know that was possible!). Really nothing I can fault here. Though, as I said in the sound section, there might be a bit of pot luck here. Mine was nice so I will rate it accordingly. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Very well built bass. Surprisingly heavy. This is the first time I've stood up and played one. I couldn't believe that something with such a thin body could be this heavy. It's a lot heavier than my P-bass. The only bass I've ever owned that was heavier was an Epiphone Thunderbird. I do tend to op for lighter instruments due to my skinny physique and disproportionate height (6' 6"/200cm), so I may be exaggerating the weight. It's not a huge issue. But something to aware of. 

This brings me on to this basses only major problem. The strap buttons. They are pathetic. The strap will not stay on for love-nor-money. I regularly switch between various techniques (finger/slap/tapping etc.). Switching between these techniques requires a slight (VERY slight) movement of the neck. The strap falls of every time without fail. This has made it impossible to use live to date. I am going to get strap locks fitted which is relatively inexpensive. So why is it such a problem? 

The reason is this bass is expensive. Really f--king expensive. So when I paid this amount of money, I expected nothing short of perfection. I could drip gold while I play and I would still question the justification of that price. Maybe I'm just cheap and being a overly critical. So you may disregard my score for this section if you so wish. But it is a major issue that will need to be fixed if you by this bass. // 6

Overall Impression: I'm not of the opinion that one bass can do everything. This bass certainly can't do everything. But what it does, it does VERY well. No bass I've played to date an make the transition from fingering to slapping mid-song sound so good, while falling from off of your shoulders at the same time. Joking aside, this is a bass I would recommend to someone who is willing to spend £1600 on a bass. I would question their sanity (I'm still questioning my own). But it is a good bass... That repeatedly ejects itself from your hands... If you buy this bass, make sure you have a decent set of straplocks waiting when it arrives. Otherwise, you could end up dropping it. Then you will cry and most probably end up hanging yourself with the E string. // 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
More Rickenbacker reviews rating category latest review
+ 370/12 9.2 Electric Guitars 07/13/2015
+ 360/6 8.9 Electric Guitars 01/12/2015
+ 360/12 8.6 Electric Guitars 12/20/2013
+ 330/12 9.4 Electric Guitars 03/22/2013
+ TR-25 8.3 Guitar Amplifiers 11/15/2012
+ view all
Only "https" links are allowed for pictures,
otherwise they won't appear