2017 Midnight Blue 4003 Rickenbacker Bass
This is the Rickenbacker 4003 bass in Midnight Blue. It’s tough to get one of these. To buy a new Rick takes months to a year to get one, and usually midnight blue isn’t even an option any more. It’s just beautiful to see in person. These basses are so well designed physically. They contour to the body, a pleasure to hold and a pleasure to play. And it’s a Rickenbacker…
The Rickenbacker bass is one of the most iconic instruments in the world, for sure. Played by many legends of Rock. You have metal players like Lemmy from Motorhead and the bass players in Metallica and Black Sabbath. Then you have any other kind of rock as well – from Chris Squire of Yes, to Geddy Lee of Rush, to Wings, to the Eagles, to the Kinks, to the Raconteurs, to The Clash, and on and on.
The Rickenbacker bass is known for it’s mid/high range growl that cuts through the mix. The 4001 models (made from 1961 to 1981) are particularly middy and clanky. Not only are they physically clanky, but the bridge pickup had a capacity in it’s circuit that was a lowcut. So, the bridge pickup was all mid and highs. You could use that pickup by itself for something really nasty, or mix it in with the other pickup (which had a full range), and you could thus control how much “Rick sound” you had in your mix.
The 4003 bass was first released in 1981 as an update to the instrument. It was upgraded to handle contemporary high-tension strings. The double truss rod system was drastically improved, as any truss maintenance on the 4001s was dreaded, complicated business. The 4003 is more contemporarily engineered in such ways.
The best addition to the 4003 is the higher output and the option of choosing a more contemporary sound (with bassier thump on the low end) or the vintage sound with the pull of a knob. On these newer 4003’s, the tone knob for the bridge pickup has a push/pull option that turns on a capacitor that is a low cut. This is the old vintage Rick bass sound. They had that capacitor in the circuit until 1981, then took it out, then put it back but with an option to have it engaged or not engaged. When it’s not engaged, the bass sounds beefier and fuller. When it is engaged, the bass sounds more mid and growly like the old 4001’s (because it’s the same circuitry now engaged).
The Rickenbacker 4003 has the second output jack on it. This comes standard from the factory like this. The second output is called the Rick-O-Sound output. It’s a stereo output. What that means is that you can put a stereo cable into the output, and you can then run that cable to two different channels or two different amps even – with one of the pickups going to one amp and the other pickup going to the other amp. This means you can switch amps using your pickup selector, or mix them for some crazy sounds.
So, when you use Rick-O-Sound output, you can have the pickups sounding (one bassier one growlier), and then going to different amps, and those amps may have pedals and effects, and you can blend these in the middle position with your volume and tone knobs…. in other words a creative bass player can have a heyday creating unexpected and wonderful sounds.
Another one of the defining characteristics of Rickenbacker basses is the neckthru construction. This is a single piece of maple woood that runs the length of the neck and though to the end of the body. The wings are maple as well. The finish is a beautiful blue and the binding goes all the way around the body and up the neck – very sexy looking. The fingerboard is rosewood with the classic Rick gloss finish. The inlays are the big triangles that look so Rick.