Joey's Bass Notes

Rickenbacker Bass Guitar Maintenance & Setup

Changing Strings - Setup procedure 1
Truss Rod Adjustment - Setup procedure 2
Bridge Height Adjustment - Setup procedure 3
Pickup Height - Setup procedure 4
Intonation - Setup procedure 5
Using the Rick-O-Sound Jack
Removing The Treble (Bridge) Pickup Cover
4001 and 4003 Pickup Leads
The .0047 Capacitor Bypass Modification
Rickenbacker Bass Wiring Diagrams
Recognizing And Avoiding Rickenbacker Copies



Before you attempt to do any of the following procedures, please carefully and thoroughly read the entire page, then read each section as you do that procedure of your set up. For best results, do your set up procedures in the same order that they are found on this page. If you have little or no experience setting up guitars or working with hand tools, I suggest that with the exception of changing strings, you first learn do set ups or any other maintenance and modifications on an inexpensive instrument. Use all safety precautions when working with tools.

Maintaining and setting up a Rickenbacker bass can be somewhat different than other bass guitars, especially the 4000, 4001 and 4002 models. All Rickenbacker 4000 series basses have a dual truss rod system, which helps get a more accurate neck adjustment. "What's the difference between a 4001 and a 4003?" A 4003 is actually a modernized 4001. The neck laminations of wood are different and stronger in a 4003 neck than they are in a 4001 neck. The dual truss rod system is also stronger in the 4003 and each rod of the 4003 is adjusted like any other guitar truss rod. The truss rod system of a 4000 and 4001 bass is adjusted differently than other basses and that procedure is covered on this page. Many necks of 4001 basses were ruined by players and even guitar repairmen that did not know the proper procedure of adjusting the truss rods. 4001 basses were designed and factory set up to handle the Rickenbacker set of low tension flatwound bass strings.

During the '70's, many Rickenbacker bassists installed the Rotosound Swing Bass round wound strings to get that Chris Squire or Geddy Lee sound. The higher tension of Rotosound strings produced a forward bow in most of the necks. Quite a few 4001 basses handled the tension with no problem. Some of then were fine after they properly adjusted. Some might have handled the extra tension if they were adjusted properly, some just couldn't handle it at all, as every piece of wood is different even though it might be of the same type. Most of the 4001 basses that are still around have necks that are in good shape.

4001 basses from '72, until RIC ended production about '84 have a strip of shedua that runs through the middle of the entire length of the neck through body construction. Many people mistake this dark wood for walnut. The 4002 also has the stripof shedua. The set neck 4001S and 4005 have the shedua strip only in then neck. The pre '72 4001, 4001V63, 4001C64, 4001C64S 4003 and 4004 basses do not have the shedua strip. All 4001 basses have a 0.0047 mfd capacitor wired to the bridge pickup.

The 4003 basses from '79 to about '85 also have that capacitor. This capacitor removes most of the low frequencies, which also reduces some volume from the bridge pickup. This was an innovative attempt by RIC to compensate for the limited frequency range of early bass amplifiers. This is most effective when the 4001 is used with a Rick-O-Sound box and two amplifiers. The Rick-O-Sound box or similar assembly allows the 4001 and 4003 basses to be played in "stereo" which really means the neck pickup will play through one amp and the bridge pickup plays through another amp. The 4003 bass from 79'to '85 had the truss rod adjustments at the body end of the neck with a 2 piece pickguard for easier access to the adjustments. From 79'to '85 the 4003 has 2 extra tailpiece mounting screws in the heel. Most of the 4003S/5 and 4003S/8 basses had the 2 extra screws in the heel of the tailpiece from when they were introduced until they were discontinued.

The latest 4003 basses (from very late 2005 to present) again have the 0.0047 mfd capacitor in a special vintage tone circuit which gives you have the option of using the 0.0047mfd capacitor or not, by the push-pull feature of the treble (bridge) pickup tone potentiometer. This is a great component added to these basses, making them even more versatile than ever. It's sort of like having a 4001 and a 4003 in the same bass guitar.

The 4004 basses have the same basic body style as the 4001/4003, but with super contoured edges and a modern look. They have dual truss rods that work like those in the 4003 basses. 4004 basses have humbucking pickups, which have a very high output and are dead quite as far as noise is concerned. There are two different 4004 models, the Laredo and The Cheyenne. Like the 4001, 4002 and 4003 models, the 4004 models have neck through body construction.

The 4004L (Laredo), which has a hard wood body (usually made of maple) and a maple neck through body stock. The fingerboard is bubinga. The 4004L has chrome hardware.

There is also the 4004Cii, which is the second version of the Cheyenne. The body wings of the Cii are constructed in sort of a maple/walnut/maple sandwich. The neck through body stock is maple and the fingerboard is bubinga. The hardware on the 4004Cii is gold. As well as al the standard RIC finishes, the 4004Cii also comes in green, red and blue translucent finishes which are not offered on any other Rickenbacker model. Some people feel the Laredo has a somewhat brighter sound than the Cheyenne due the body of the Cheyenne having walnut in the body wings. That's subjective and debatable.

The first version of the Cheyenne (Ci) had body wings that were constructed with walnut on the front and maple in the back. The 4004L has a conversion varnish finished fingerboard, whereas the 4004Cii fingerboard is left unfinished. Very few 4004Cii bassguitars were made with a conversion varnish finished fingerboard.

Until about 2008, the finish on Rickenbacker instruments is their own proprietary conversion varnish formula, which is more durable and looks better than finishes applied by other guitar companies. Sometime around 2008, RIC switched to a UV cured finish, which is even more durable and will not readily amber with age.

If you have a model 3000 or 3001, follow the truss rod/neck adjustment procedure on this page for the model 4001, adjust the bridge height/ intonation procedures on this page, but refer to the Standard Maintenance page for the other steps of the setup.
If you have a 2000 series model, follow the truss rod/neck adjustment procedure on this page for the current 4003 model, then refer to the Standard Maintenance page for the rest of the setup.

            A 4001, 4003 or 4004?

No one loves the 4001 more than me, they are great bass guitars, but I also love the 4003. I suggest that it would be much better for the bassist who wants a workhorse gigging Rickenbacker, to buy a new 4003 or 4004. Now, the new 4003 and 4004 basses are great to invest in. The latest models are built much tougher and have much more output from the pickups. You may pay the same price or less for a new 4003 than would for an old 4001 and get a top quality, new instrument that no one has modified, worn out or abused, with a warranty. If you gig regularly or are a fairly new bassist that wants a Rickenbacker, it might be wiser to leave the 4001 basses to the collectors and the seasoned Rickenbacker bassists.

If you find the treble pickup and tailpiece hardware not suited to your taste, go for a modernized Rickenbacker bass guitar, the 4004.

No other brand of newly purchased instruments hold their value as well as those manufactured by the Rickenbacker International Corporation (RIC). The instruments that RIC makes now are arguably their best ever.

The dual truss rod adjustment nuts of a 4001.
The screwdriver points to the .0047 mfd capacitor.


It is best to change strings one at a time to avoid a major change of tension all at once on the neck. After removing a string, you might want to save it as a backup in case you ever break the new string. You will need a pair of diagonal cutters or a string winder that has a string cutter on the end.

    String Removal:

  • Unwind the string from tuner.
  • After unwinding the string to be changed from the tuning peg, straighten the wound end as best that you can.
  • Bend the string up a little near the end of the bridge. That will help you avoid having the ball end damage the finish as you push the string out.
  • Carefully remove the ball end of the string you are removing, as you start to push the string through rear of the bridge, so the ball end doesn't damage the end of the body.
  • When the strings are out of the way, it's a good time to clean the areas of the neck, body and bridge that are hard to get to when the strings are in place.

    New String Installation:

  • Push the string through the hole in the rear of the tailpiece.
  • Pull the string through the front hole of the heel of the tailpiece and over the bridge.
  • If the bridge pickup cover is in place, carefully guide the string under the cover.
  • Hold the string, especially the ball end away from the body of the bass as you pass the string through the tailpiece, so not damage the finish.

    String Installation continued:

  • After the string is completely through the bridge, cut the leading end approximately 3 inches past the intended tuner post.    
  • For best results, the string should neatly wind around the post 2 to 3 times.
  • With a needle nose pliers, make a 90° bend in the string approximately ½ inch from the leading end.    

I made the bent end longer than ½ inch in the picture to see it easier.


    String Installation continued: 

  • Place the bent end of the string in the hole in the center of the slot in the tuning post.
  • The string should be wound from the side of the tuning post that is opposite it's tuner key.
  • Now hold the leading end down with your thumb and the rest of the string up with your index finger as you wind the tuner key to bring the string to pitch.
  • As the string begins to tighten, be sure the string is seated properly it's bridge saddle groove and nut slot.    
  • Don't tighten the string too quickly. If you tighten the string past it's correct pitch you might break or damage it.     

Below: Neither is one of my basses, but these pictures show basses with strings that were installed wrong and sloppy. The photo directly below to the left shows an A string that was wound from the wrong side of the post. When a string is wound like this, it is not straight enough, which can result in difficulty getting it perfectly tuned and puts a great amount of stress on the nut, which can possibly make it crack, especially if it is the E or G string. The photo directly below to the right shows that the E and G strings were strung on the wrong sides of the posts. Notice that all the strings have an excessive amount of windings, which are not wrapped flush and tight around the tuner posts. Strings installed like this can keep a bassist retuning often.


TRUSS ROD ADJUSTMENT (for neck relief)

Rickenbacker instruments intonate and play best when the neck is as straight as possible. I have gotten quite a few emails from Rickenbacker bass owners who are not comfortable to yet do their own set up, telling me that a certain guitar repairman insists that a Rick bass neck should have relief just like any other bass guitar. If a guitar repairman tells you this, then it should immediately tell you that this guitar repairman has little or no knowledge and experience setting up or repairing Rickenbacker basses. Take your Rick elsewhere.

To tell if the neck of your Rickenbacker bass needs an adjustment, hold your bass in your lap, just like you are going to play it. Laying the bass down whether the neck is supported or not changes the relief somewhat, so you what to check the neck relief just like to are going to play your bass. Then using the tuned strings as a straight edge, fret the first with the index of the your fretting hand or get a guitar capo and capo the strings at the first fret. Holding the string down at the last fret with your other hand, you should be able to slide a piece of loose-leaf paper between the string and the 9th fret, with the string moving just a little. Or you can hold the string down with your first finger on your left hand and hold the string down at the last fret with your other hand. With your pinky on your left hand go to the furthest fret you can reach with it and tap down on the string. It shouldn't move much, just enough to hardly hear a tiny plink noise. The plink sound should be softer and less audible than you would hear from other bass guitars, since other bass guitars should have a little relief in the neck. If there was no sound at all, your neck might have a back bow. Do this with the E and G strings. If it's a five string Rickenbacker bass, use the B and G strings.

If a truss rod nut is stuck and won't turn due to corrosion, it must first be treated with a penetrating oil, like WD-40 or better yet, if you can find a product called Corrosion-Cracker. Apply one of these products sparingly (a drop or two at most) on the threads at the opening of the nut, using a needle bottle or the tip of a toothpick. You do not want to get any these products on the finish of you bass, so put a towel around the areas that you might accidentally get some on. After you've applied about a drop or so to the threads on the truss rod(s), wait a while for the product to penetrate. Then gently try to loosen the affected nut (turn counterclockwise). Do not try to tighten! There is still always the chance that you may break the truss rod. If you break a truss rod, new truss rods for 4003 and 4004 basses can be purchased from Rickenbacker. Broken 4001 rods would have to be repaired or depending on the break, new ones would have to be made by a luthier who knows how to make a 4001 truss rod.

Truss rod adjustments of all Rickenbacker basses should be done with the strings in tune.

The truss rods of 3000, 3001, 4000, 4001, 4003 (pre Sept '84), 4001S, 4002 and 4005 models adjust differently than the truss rods of 4003 (starting Sept '84), 4003S, 4003S/5, 4003S/8, 4004C, 4004Cii, 4004L, 4001V63, 4001C64 and 2000 series basses.

3000, 3001, 4000, 4001, 4001S, 4002, pre Sept '84 4003 and 4005 bass guitars:

The difference between adjusting a truss rod on one of these basses and other basses, is that the necks of these basses must be manually moved to the desired position and then the adjustment nuts are tightened (turned clockwise). If you have detuned any strings to remove the truss rod cover, retune the strings before adjusting the truss rods. You will need a straight thin walled 1/4" nut driver that will fit in the area of the truss rod adjustment nuts. You can get the tool from Rickenbacker if you desire or you can get one at a hardware store. Do not use a nut driver with a "T" handle nor should you attach a ratchet type handle, as these will allow you to use too much strength when you turn the nuts and possibly break the truss rods.

You might need the assistance of someone else to hold the bass guitar down on a workbench to do this procedure or you can clamp the body of the bass to a workbench or table with a towel and use a clamp with rubber jaws and other soft material that you can put between the bass and the jaws of the clamp as well as on the workbench or table.

                Old Style Truss Rod Adjustment Procedure:

  • With the strings in tune, clamp the body to a padded workbench or table.
  • Loosen the truss rod adjustment nuts enough so are just a small distance from the bearing plate(metal plate behind the nuts).
  • Tighten the nuts so that they are just touching the bearing plate.
  • Pull back on the neck straight by the top of the neck with one hand, with enough strength to make the strings completely contact the fingerboard.
  • Tighten both nuts as you hold the neck like this.
  • After you tighten down the nuts, you then let go of the neck.
  • Tighten the nuts very snug, using only the strength of your hand, not your whole arm.

    Another method is to have the neck clamped with a 2"x 4" with adding smaller blocks of wood in between the fingerboard and the 2" x 4" and a cushiony material like cork in between the blocks and the fingerboard, or you might just find suitable blocks of cork to put in between the 2" x 4". Then loosen/tighten the truss rod nuts as I explain in the previous method.

    I will provide pictures of this technique soon. Some guys are comfortable with supporting the body between their legs while they do this procedure. I find that cumbersome. Some have been known to just support the neck just below the headstock on their leg, as they hold it by the headstock with one hand, letting the body hang free as they tighten down the truss rod adjustment nuts with the other hand (known as the "Quick and Dirty" method). Never try to tighten the nuts with more than the strength in your hand. If you use the strength of your arm to tighten them, you might break the truss rods. Never adjust the truss rod nuts of a 4000, 4001 or 4002 without following one of these procedures or the fingerboard might pop off the neck, sending you with your bass to a luthier to set the fingerboard on again. Never force an adjustment nut to turn. It might be stuck due to corrosion, or it may already be at the end of it's traveling distance of the threads on the truss rod.

    Forcing the nut to turn can break a truss rod and or pop the fingerboard off the neck. If you have never done any of these procedures, take your time and be very careful. It may take you more than one time to get the neck adjusted the way you want it.

4003 & 4003S (from Sept '84 to present), 4003S/5, S/8, 4001V63, 4001C64, 4004 & 2000 series:

The truss rods these models adjust like any other bass guitar except just like the 4001, there are 2 truss rods for more accurate adjustments. It is not necessary to manually hold the necks of the 4003, 4004 or 2000 series models while adjusting their truss rods. You might only have to adjust one truss rod or one needs to be adjusted less than the other. The 4003 basses in the first production years (approximately '79 to '85) had the truss rod adjustment at the body end of the neck. You can tell these from the newer 4003 basses, since the ones that have the truss rod adjustments at the body end have a two piece pickguard.

To access the truss rod adjustments on the early 4003 basses, you must remove the part of the pickguard that is closer to the neck. 4003 basses from about '85 to present have the truss rod adjustments under the truss rod cover. If you have loosened any strings to remove the cover, retune the strings before making any truss rod adjustments. Turning the truss rod adjustment to the right (clockwise) reduces forward bow, no matter which end of the neck the adjustment is located. Turning the truss rod adjustment to the left (counter clockwise) reduces back bow, no matter which end of the neck the adjustment is located.

The truss rod adjustments should never exceed more than 1/8 turn at once. After making the first 1/8 turn adjustment, wait about a day to see if the truss rods need to be further adjusted. Give the rod(s) a chance to set the neck relief. If you feel that the truss rod(s) need to be further adjusted, make a second 1/8 turn adjustment on the following day. It might take two or three days to get your neck to the proper adjustment.

Never force the adjustment nuts to turn. Use only the strength of your fingers, not your arm. If you can't turn the nut, it might be stuck due to corrosion or it may already be at the end of it's traveling distance on the threads of the truss rod. Forcing it can break the truss rod and /or pop the fingerboard off the neck.



3000, 3001, 4000, 4001 4003, 4003 and 4005 basses have a bridge that "floats" in the well of a tailpiece that is supported by two height adjustment screws, one on each side of the bridge. There is no individual height adjustment for each saddle. The individual saddle height is fixed on the bridge to match the radius of the fingerboard. To raise or lower the first and second strings, the height adjustment screw on the first string side of the bridge is adjusted. To lower the strings, use an Allen wrench to turn the screw counter clockwise. To raise them, turn the screw clockwise. To adjust the height of the third and fourth strings, do the same for the bridge height screw near the fourth string. After you have changed the bridge height, you will have to retune the strings since lowering the bridge height will loosen them and raising the bridge height will tighten them.

The 4004 basses have ABM bridges which have individual saddle height adjustment screws. Adjusting the bridge saddles is done by turning screws, one on each side of the bridge saddle. The screws are adjusted with an allen wrench. Turning the screw clockwise raises the bridge saddle, therefore raising the string height. Turning the screw counter clockwise lowers the saddle, therefore lowers the string height. The height of the strings are usually 3/32" from the bottom of the E string to the top of the 12th fret. The first string can be slightly closer to the fret. The overall string height as well as the string to string height on your bass should depend on your style of playing, and the type of strings that are installed on your bass guitar.

The ABM bridges also have a string to string spacing adjustment roller on each saddle. Loosen the string and turn the roller to change the string to string spacing to best suit your style. Do that to each saddle so that the string spacing is the same between all of the strings. Pick style players usually prefer the strings closer together. Finger and slap style players usually prefer wider string spacing.



It’s best to adjust your pickups with your bass plugged into your amplifier so you can get the output you desire, quicker and easier. You should also hold your bass in the playing position since the strings may slightly change height if you lay your bass down, Don't set the volume level on your amp too loud since you most likely will make some popping noises during the procedure.
The screws on the sides of the pickups adjust the pickup height. Rickenbacker bass guitar pickups have one pickup height adjustment screw on each side. Unlike most basses, on 3000, 3001. 4001, 4002 and 4003 basses, turning the screws to the right (clockwise) raises the pickups. Turning the screws to the left (counterclockwise) lowers the pickups. This is because the height adjustment screws go into mounting hardware instead of the body wood.

Since the 2000 series, 4004 and 4005 bass guitars have height adjustment screws that go into the body wood, they adjust pickup height like most other basses. Turning the screws to the right (clockwise) lowers the pickup. Turning the screws to the left (counterclockwise) raises the pickup. The 2000 series and first run of the 4004Cii/5 basses have HB2 pickups which have the height adjustments screws in the rear of the body.

In 2006, RIC began to install higain pickups with individually adjustable polepieces in 4003 basses. The polepieces on the pickups of the new 4003 basses are adjusted by using a hex key. It makes it easier to balance out the string to string volume with the individual polepieces.
The height adjustment screws of the 4001/4003 neck (bass) pickup are found at the sides of the pickups on the surface of the pickguard. There is a rubber washer (grommet) on the shafts on the neck pickup height adjustment screws to cushion and take up some space between the neck pickup mounting tabs and the pickguard.

If you have an old 4001 that seems to have a wobbly neck pickup, these rubber grommets might be missing. The height adjustment screws of the 4001/4003 bridge (treble) pickup are the two large screws found on the top of the metal pickup surround plate. There is a spring on the shaft of each of the bridge pickup height adjustment screws between the pickup mounting plate and the pickup surround plate to hold the pickup to the height that is set by the screw.

If you want a reference point, set your bridge pickup height to 5/32" between the top of the pole pieces and the bottoms of the strings, though this is hard to do if you have the bridge pickup cover on your bass.

Depending on your playing style and music you play and the type of pickup, you might want to lower or raise the pickup slightly to get the sound you want. If you want the most output from your bass, raise the pickups to just below the point of getting unwanted clicking and popping noises and unwanted distortion. The closer the pickups are to the strings, the louder the output from your bass will be, but if the pickups are too close, your notes will have less sustain and you can have unwanted distortion and the notes might sound odd, especially on the upper frets.

I’ve received several emails with complaints about a poor or weak sounding E string on a new 4003. I’ve also read about this issue on Rickenbacker forums. Don’t panic or get frustrated or get the feeling you've gotten a flawed 4003. There is a solution. Listen to each pickup soloed as well as both on to tell if it is just one pickup or both pickups that need to be adjusted.

Take advantage of the adjustable polepieces on the new Rickenbacker higain pickups. Adjust the A, D and G string polepieces down (lower) in relation to the E string and then raise up the whole pickup using the pickup height adjustment screws. Just the same, in case it's a G string that sounds weak, lower the E, A and D string polepieces, then raise up the whole pickup.

Sometimes bringing the pickups too high defeats the purpose and makes matters worse as the magnetic attraction can shorten the sustain and or produce poor tone. Just as well, a pickup that is too low can't grab all it can from the strings resulting in weak output and possibly poor tone.
If the adjustments I've just described in the paragraph above do not help the E string tone, give each truss rod nut a clockwise quarter turn tweak. That shouldn't be enough to change the relief of the neck, but might be enough to tune out a resonance issue.

If that still doesn't help the E string, if you have a skinny rat-tail file (long and round) or much better yet, a .105" nut file, make the E string nut slot just very slightly deeper. Be careful not to widen the nut slot or the string might rattle in the slot when you play it open and that would sound terrible.

Since the design of the treble (bridge) pickup assembly allows for more upward travel room than the bass (neck) pickup which is mounted on the pickguard, the bridge pickup has potential for more volume output than the neck pickup. I set my pickups to the height where I find the best potential for output without unwanted distortion or popping noises. You have to find what works best for you. the music you play, the amp and other gear you use and the group that you play in.


The bridges of 3000, 3001, 4000, 4001 4002, 4003 and 4005 bass guitars have intonation screws that can be a little hard to turn when with the bridge installed in the tailpiece. This step is done last in a set up procedure since all of the previous steps can affect intonation. After changing strings, and your bass seems to not need a set up you should still check the intonation of the strings, especially if you've changed gauges, brand or construction type. You'll need a dependable tuner, small screwdriver and an instrument cable.

              Intonation Procedure:

  • Plug your bass guitar into a good tuner using an instrument cable.
  • Turn all volume and tone controls to almost maximum.
  • Hold your bass guitar in playing position and play the first string open.
  • Make sure the string is perfectly tuned and then play the first string at the twelfth fret.
  • If the tuner shows that the 12th fret note is sharp when the open note is in tune, you must increase the length on the string by moving the bridge saddle in the direction away from the headstock.
  • If the tuner shows that the 12th fret note is flat when the open note is in tune, you must decrease the length on the string by moving the bridge saddle in the direction towards the headstock.
  • Loosen the string and then turn the saddle intonation adjustment screw for that string clockwise to increase string length orcounter-clockwise to increase string length.
  • Re-tune and repeat the previous steps as necessary with all of the strings.

How much you will have to turn the screws depends on how much adjustment the string needs.

Approximating will come with experience. Bring the string back up to pitch and check the note at the 12th fret again. It might take several tries to get it perfectly intonated. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the strings. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove the bridge from the tailpiece to turn one, two or all of the intonation adjustment screws.

To remove the bridge from the tailpiece, you will have to loosen all of the strings. Then you remove the bridge by pulling it straight up out of the well of the tailpiece. Depending on the gauge and type of string used, a saddle might run out of travel room and it might be necessary to remove the intonation screw and turn a saddle around to face the opposite way on the bridge, and then reinstall the intonation screw. This is something that usually only happens when the bass is set up very differently from usual set ups. For example, I had to do this to the 1st and 2nd string saddles of my 4001 basses when I tuned them to B-E-A-D or C#-F#-B-E with heavy gauge strings.



Many bassists tried out a 4001 or early 4003 and couldn't understand why the neck pickup had so much more output than the bridge pickup and that the bridge pickup sounded very thin. This is because of the .0047 mfd capacitor that is on the output of the bridge pickup. It takes out most of the low end of the pickup, which also results in the reduced output. In a modern rock band, you need all the volume you can get from your bass. Leave the capacitor alone if you like the way the bass just the way it is.

Al1 standard 4001, 4001S, 4001C64 and 4001C64S models have the .0047mfd cap. The 4003's from '80 to late '84/early '85 have the cap. The .0047mfd cap was not installed in the 4003 from early '85 to the time that RIC added the Vintage Tone Control Circuit as described in the following paragraph. The 4001V63 does not have the .0047 mfd cap.

As of late '05 / early '06, Rickenbacker 4003 basses come with a Vintage Tone Circuit which features a push - pull treble tone control pot. With the knob on the pot pushed in, the capacitor is out of the circuit. If the knob is pulled out, the capacitor is engaged in the circuit. You can do this modification to your 4001 or 4003. You can purchase a push-pull potentiometer available at authorized RIC dealer or straight from RIC. The push - pull pot will replace the existing treble pickup tone pot. This is how the newest Rick basses (from late '05 to present) are wired.

The push - pull pot that you get from RIC will come with a diagram that shows how to wire in the new pot. If you get the pot from a source other than RIC or a RIC authorized dealer, follow the diagram called '4003 with Vintage Tone Circuit Wiring Diagram PDF' that I have made, located at the bottom of this page. If you get a push - pull pot that is not the genuine RIC part, the inside portion of the pot might be too tall for the space between the body route and the inside of the pickguard and you may have to route that area a little deeper to make the pot fit.

An alternative to the push - pull pot, is to wire a single pole double throw (SPDT) switch in parallel to the .0047 capacitor and have either sound at the flick of the switch. Of course you will have to mount the switch on the pickguard by routing a hole. Notice the mini switch on my '79 4001 fireglo at the bottom of this page. I did that modification many years ago as suggested by one of my electronics teachers who played bass. The push - pull pot is the better way to go since you won't have to make a hole in your pickguard for the switch and your bass won't look modified.

A simple cap modification can be done by soldering or just tightly wrapping ends of an insulated wire to the same two solder points as the .0047 mfd capacitor. This is the smaller capacitor that is connected from the lug on the pickup selector switch for the treble (bridge) pickup to the middle lug of the treble volume pot. I'm pointing to it in a picture at the top of this page. You can remove the cap first if you choose you solder in the wire, or you can leave it in. If you leave the cap in, it will make the reversal of the mod easier if you wish to do so. You won't hear the effect of the cap if you leave it in, since all of the signal will take the easier route through the wire instead of the cap.



The two output jacks of the 4001 or 4003 where not meant nor wired to be used at the same time. You use one or the other. When you use a regular instrument cable, you must plug it into the standard jack (the one closer to the end of the bass). If you plug a regular instrument cable into the Rick-O-Sound jack, you will only get sound from the bridge (treble pickup). You must use a Rick-O-Sound unit or similar stereo splitter, which has a 1/4" stereo plug on one end, which gets plugged into the Rick-O-Sound output jack of a 4001 or 4003. The signal from each pickup gets separated and then goes to two separate mono 1/4" plugs. This gives you the signal from neck pickup to go to one amp and the signal from the bridge pickup going to a second amp.

When set up with Rick-O-Sound, you can make it sound like there are 2 bass guitars playing at once. You can set the amps to sound very different from each other, having effects, different eq and / or overdrive on one and not the other. Not many bassists use Rick-O-Sound jack since it involves the use of two bass rigs. The modern 4004 basses have only the single mono jack since it is usually the only jack most bassists use on the 4001 and 4003.


I remember the feeling of having to remove the pickup cover for the first time. I was kind of worried that I would mess up something. Now I've done it so many times, it's no big deal.

There are 2 ways to do it.

              Method 1:

  • Loosen and remove the strings from the tuners.
  • Pull the strings out from under the pickup cover.
  • Loosen and remove the 4 small screws that hold down the surround plate.
  • Carefully and slowly pick the assembly up enough to slide a towel or cloth under it, carefully turn it over and rest it on the towel.
  • Don't pick the assembly up fast or far, you don't want to break a wire or solder joint. The cloth is to protect the finish.

Now examine the way the assembly is put together before you take it apart. The most important thing to remember is that the ground wire goes between the top of the spring and the pickup surround plate of whichever side it reaches easier.

Put the assembly back together the same way without the cover in place. It's really not that hard. The older ones are harder to reassemble. The older ones had spacers which were loose and not part of the pickup mounting plate
When you have the assembly together reinstall it on the body.
Should you forget or become confused as to how the assembly goes back together, refer to this diagram which is located on the RIC website.

Follow the instructions in the Pickup Height Section above to set the pickup height.

               Method 2 suggested by John Hall (RIC CEO):

  • Don't loosen the strings at all.
  • Loosen the two pickup height adjustment screws (the large ones at the sides of the assembly).
  • Neverpull these screws out or up at all thoughout this procedure.
  • After loosening the screws all the way, let the pickup drop to the inside of the body.
  • Squeeze the sides of the pickup cover until you can get it out from the under the surround plate. It won't break. You can even push one side into the opposite inner wall of the pickup cavity to squeeze it enough to come out.
  • Be careful since you don't want the springs and ground wire to come off the screws, which is why you shouldn't remove them.
  • When you get the cover out, hold the pickup assembly up a bit so that the screws go in the holes at the sides of the pickup mounting plate.
  • Adjust the pickup height to the specs I've mentioned in the Pickup Height section.

4001 & 4003 PICKUP LEADS

You can accidentally disconnect or break a wire on a pickup when you are working on your opened bass guitar, especially with an older instrument or you've bought one that someone did some modifications on. When you are mounting a pickup after it's removal or replacement, the neck pickup should be positioned so that the lead is closer to the control cavity. The directionality of the treble (bridge) should depend on which direction the pickup is installed when the polepieces line up better under the strings. There is no wrong physical direction as far as pickup phasing. Phasing of the pickups depend on how they are wired.

Wiring the pickups properly as seen in these pictures, the PDF wiring diagrams below and the schematics on the RIC website will insure the proper pickup phasing. If the pickups that are wired out of phase from each other, you will hear a loss of bass response when both pickups are on. This is a completely separate issue from the 0.0047mfd capacitor wired to the 4001 bridge pickup.
Toaster Pickup Wiring
Toaster Wires Close-up

The black wire is hot and the ground splits to go into the pickup and is also attached to the bolt on the mounting ring
'79 Bass (Neck) Higain
'06 Bass (Neck) Higain

The hot lead is the short wire on these two pickups. On the '79 pickup, the ground attached to the mounting ring and the the ground lead on the pickup is also attached to the grounding washer. On the '06 pickup the ground wire splits going to the grounding washer and going to the pickup. Inspect your pickup carefully to see how it was wired.
'79 Treble (Bridge) Higain
'06 Treble (Bridge) Higain

The hot lead that goes to the pickup selector switch is soldered to the short black wire hot wire on the pickup, then covered with shrink wrap. The ground wires are attached to a grounding washer on one of the two screws that attaches the mounting bar to the pickup/magnet assembly. One ground wire is from the lead coming from the control cavity, the second is the ground to the pickup and the third ground wire goes to the washer that gets placed on one of the pickup height adjustment screws to ground the pickup mounting ring.

Rickenbacker Bass Guitar Wiring Diagrams

NOTE: Due to theft of my wiring diagrams by some websites that do not comply with the Joey's Bass Notes Terms of Use page, my wiring diagrams are no longer available. They may appear in a future publication. At that time, I will let visitors of this website know where the diagrams can be found. Until then I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. Blame the infringers who use the work of other without a bit of work on their own part to make money on their dummy storage sites, not me.
 Home          Standard Maintenance           Fake Ricks            Other Notes            Media            Links    

           Website Terms Of Service            
© 2004 - 2014 JOEY'S BASS NOTES
All rights reserved