NOTE: These are not our guitars; just saving the images for history and showcasing what's out there.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1968 RICKENBACKER 4001 BASS


via this auction
"It has all the stock features of this model including a toaster neck pickup and horseshoe bridge pickup, checkerboard binding, crushed shell inlays, and thin lacquer finish. The bass is in near mint condition and completely original. It even has its original German-made Maxima flatwound strings that came with the bass when new in 1968.

Very few of these basses were ever made. According to "The Complete History of Rickenbacker Guitars", the company made a total of only 850 bass instruments of all models from the first 4000 bass in 1958 through all production in 1968. Beginning in 1969 through 1973 the 4001 bass features began to change, reshaping the neck to a thicker profile and adding a center stringer, omitting the horseshoe pickup, replacing the shell inlays with plastic, changing the binding to solid white binding, changing the toaster pickup to a 4-pole pickup, and changing the finish to a modern thicker polyester lacquer. By the seventies this model looked similar but felt and sounded a lot different.

When new, this particular bass was never sold and remained in the Rickenbacker plant until the late 1980's when Rickenbacker liquidated a handful of old instruments that had accumulated over the years. These "second" instruments were sold to vintage guitar collectors/dealers, particularly in Southern California. The lot included guitars, basses, and some one off instruments (such as a 4005 6 string and 4005 8 string bass). I received the bass at that time and have used it occasionally for playing at home or recording. The bass has left my house maybe 5 times in the past 20-odd years.

As with almost every Rickenbacker bass from the early days, this one has several unique features or quirks. The most obvious is a tiny diameter hole that was drilled near the bridge and plugged by a thin dowel and is the largest cosmetic issue with this instrument. Otherwise there are a couple of very light finish scratches here and there, a match head size chip in the chrome plating on the bridge, and some corrosion on two of the screws on the input jack. Otherwise, there is no wear at all which is why I rate the condition as EXCELLENT instead of MINT. The main functional issue is the neck has a slight bow but still has remarkably good playing action. This results in relatively high playing action above the 12th fret, and less than perfect (but quite acceptable) intonation above the 15th fret, but the bass feels good, plays easily, and sounds incredible.

The bass has been serviced by a luthier and collector who specializes in vintage Rickenbacker basses. He adjusted the double truss rod and filed the original nut to improve playing action, adjusted the bridge saddles, cleaned two of the original pots, and cleaned oxidation on the input jack. His work optimized the playing action and intonation, and made the electronics 100% reliable (previously the input jack was touchy). Even though the strings are relatively high, the playing action is remarkably comfortable and of course free of string buzz and rattle. This bass is an absolute joy to play!

I believe this bass was never sold as a new instrument, either because of the hole near the bridge, and/or the neck situation. High playing action when new was apparently a common issue for many early Rickenbacker basses. The neck pickup rout removes enough wood from the neck/center block, that it structurally effects the neck on some basses, eventually resulting in a small up bow. My luthier has seen a number of sixties vintage Rickenbacker basses suffering from this problem which explains why the neck design was changed in later models. It is possible to remove the fingerboard and install a solid graphite rod to straighten the neck, but I don't think it's necessary..."


No comments: