The Bass-ment

OT-NonGretsch: Vintage 1969ish 4001 Rickenbacker advice

1

If you own or owned a Vintage 4001, you would know about the severely troublesome and flawed trussrods that these old 4001's were shipped with. These flawed design trussrods usually literally break the neck if it gets in the hands of someone not used to the issue.

Mine eventually cracked down the length until I found out about the flawed truss design. I have since replaced the truss-rods with proper ones and the flaw and subsequent danger is removed.

My Question: I generally want to use the lightest gauge round-wound strings possible with the 4001 to reduce the chance of this ever happening again even though I fixed the factory flaw.

Searching on the web it seems that Ric bases can basically operate safely between 135 to 200lbs.

If any of you Gretchers also played Vintage 4001, what do you recommend as the optimum light gauge without losing too much tone.

I play of course Chris Squire's stuff / Genesis and the 4001 is till date the only fretted bass I ever want to play, so I want to stay within that "tone" but still give the 4001 some slack regarding tension. I play fretless otherwise.

Thanks

2

Well they had the dual truss rod thing, but I never heard about problems with them even if just with the basses.

Being long scale etc. I think you could use .95s... .90 are just lo tension and lo tone. Heaviest strings I know of... what I use are .115.

What is weird is guitar strings often referred to by size of the high E, ie 10s, 11s but bass strings usually referred to by the low E 95s 105s, etc.

3

Those truss rods of the 60s-thru 1973 were seriously flawed.

They did not have the two sides of the rods connected at the bolt end. This caused the returning rod to fly away as it was mounted against the fretboard and then eventually either crack the fretboard off or split the neck.

The only safe way to set the neck on an old 4001, is to

  • If Neck has forward bow withloose trussrod, no strings; Then : Loosen trussrods, have strings completely loose.
  • Then clamp the rick with neck face down on a flat surface (protect neck surfaces between contact points with clamps) and adjust the clamps till the neck is straight on the table.
  • Then while still clamped on table tighten the trussrod until it just catch tight.
  • Remove the clamps between the back of the neck and table. The neck will now be adjusted straight without risking destruction. Tune up.
  • Iterate as necessary, but if you need a bit more adjustment clamp it tuned up and adjust truss with strings on and clamped flat on table.
  • Remove clamps.

For a neck that already has back bow or is straight the procedure is as follows:
- Tune up 3/4 way in standard tuning - Then clamp the rick with neck face down on a flat surface (protect neck surfaces between contact points with clamps) and adjust the clamps till the neck is straight on the table. Make sure it is clamped on the table with only the neck without nut on table surface or rest of guitar. I usually use the corner of a table. - Then while still clamped on table tighten the trussrod until it just catch tight. - Remove the clamps between the back of the neck and table. The neck will now be adjusted straight without risking destruction. Tune up. - Now tune up to Standard Tuning and repeat the process above. - Remove clamps.

In fact this is how I adjust all heavy gauge stringed necks.

  • Here is the Flawed design in its total length Old4001Truss
  • Here is an image of what the top end of the 4001 truss-rods looks like. 60-74/4001/truss
  • Here is an image what the end should look like so that it doesnt crack the neck as the previous one does. As you can see the nut threaded end goes through a bushing and the bushing is welded to the other end. The other end cannot fly away. ReoplacementTrussWithConstrainedEnd

As you can see the old truss is NOT constrained at the top end so WILL crack the neck eventually. Immense unnecessary forces are created at the headstock end, while if it was constrained like the new one is, then the truss will just bow and not create any of the massive amounts of force as the old one does when the loose end flies away. I think this flaw was fixed with the introduction of the the 4003's in 1981.

To add insult to injury, the thread at the top of the 60s-about 73 is on a square bar !!! It was not even thread on a rounded section!! You can see what happened to mine with the thread on the square rod.

Anyone who still has original trussrods in these lovely old 4001's are playing with proverbial fire. Eventually the neck will crack as about all of them do when someone tries to adjust the tension and not knowing how a 4001 works. Please replace them before it is too late.

4

I got a response from Rotosound: Here are their total string tensions for their 66-series strings.

  • RS66LC – 145.35 (40/60/75/95)
  • RS66LD – 181.97 (45/65/80/105)
  • RS66LF – 184.97 (45/65/85/105)
  • RS66LE – 204.01 (50/70/85/110)
  • SM66 – 155.38 (40/60/80/100)
  • BS66 – 178.29 (43/65/80/110)

I dont want to go the full 200lb on an old 4001 like this, so what do you basists think ?

At which point would I start losing tone or pick up other problems. The Rics are usually strung with RS66LD, but I definately need to go lighter to save the Bass.

I guess I have no other option but to go for RS66LC which coincides with what DC Birdman wisely suggested..

Anyone happened to compare RS66LC with RS66LD ? and what was the perceived difference ?

Thanks


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