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 Post subject: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:51 am
Posts: 8
Cheers...


I think this topic has been thoroughly discussed and analyzed in a multitude of different threads, but as a novice (with regards to Rickenbacker 4003 lore) I find it a bit frustrating to mix and match all those scattered little pearls of wisdom.

I am a proud owner of 4003 Ric and the time has come for me to change strings. Most of my other basses are mainly Jazz Fenders, big chunks of bolted wood that I can easily calibrate no matter what I toss unto them (mainly heavy gauge strings). This tinkering is exactly what i wish to avoid with my Ric 4003. Since acquiring a another 4003 for the sole purpose of experimenting is out of the question (and frankly i couldn’t bear to Frankenstein-ise another Ric no matter what ) i need some guidance (both spiritual and practical).

I use Rotosound flatwounds 50-110 gauge (or better used to), on most of my fenders (jazz and precision). My other choice was the Rotosound swing bass roundwounds 50-70-85-110 (saved for a specific jazz bass). On a couple occasions i did change the E string with a 115 gauge and once i tried to use flats with the A, E and rounds with the G, D strings... (after a while that bass was more of a longbow instead of a musical instrument).

Question (1): Can I use flats with my Ric and if the answear is yes, what gauge? Will I have to adjust the rods? (Terror-panic-fear). I figured that originally flatwouds were of lower tension and rounds were high, but at some point it got other way. Can the Rick 03 handle flats with minimum rod adjustment? The original ric-strings that came with the bass were great but I live in Athens Greece (yup eastern Europe, between Italy and Turkey) so they are hard to finds and yes shipment is a pain in the arse...

Question (2): Flatwounds on Rics change the sound dramatically? Even though I really like that fat warm sound (hence the flats) it’s that ringing thunder that brought me to the 4003 I’d hate to loose that.

Question (3): What other strings can you suggest (type, gauge and company would be nice to mention). Is there a European retailer for Rickenbacker made strings?

Question (4): What is the essential string gauge for a Rickenbacker 4003?

Question (5): What about the Rotosound Solo Bass 55 (in terms of sound, tension and fret wear)?

Question (6): I consider myself quite an aggressive player, lots of bending and hammering etc, but i cant say that there is any sign of wear on my frets, is there something specific with the Ric’s fretboard?

That’s all for now... sorry for bringing back and old issue but please go easy on it... I did post it on the deja-vu forum  !!!

Be(a)st Wishes & Bloody Kisses...
Ps: thanks for bringing a bass to the world that takes no $^*^$#^ from over opinionated, 11-crankin guitarists... Finally I can be heard if i want to !!!


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 Post subject: Re: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:58 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:07 am
Posts: 3717
The short answer is "yes" to all the above. Yes, flats work great on a 4003. Yes, the truss rods are easily adjustible. If you don't have an owner's manual, there is one online under the "Service" tab on this website.

Over-condensed history: flats were the original electric bass strings, and rounds started out with more tension due to the materials and manner of windings, and limited choices as to gauges. Now, with everybody making every style of string in every gauge, it's a matter of finding what you like in tone and feel, as pretty much all strings come in all gauges and tensions.

What is readily available where you live? Or what is readily available mail order that is reasonable in cost and delivery schedule? That will be a big factor as to what to use.

To find out who can get you RIC strings, international dealers are listed under the "Dealers" tab at the top as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:57 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:51 am
Posts: 8
Mondo thanks for answering...


So, this means that yes, i can use flats on my Ric... great !!!

• What about the change of sound? Does it sound a hell lot different? Does it compromise that famous sustained ringing tone?

• What about the Rotosound Solo Bass 55 (in terms of sound, tension and fret wear)? Has anyone tried them on a Ric? How do they sound and how do they treat the fret board?

• Still what is the essential gauge for a Ric? Really!?! Considering both flats and rounds?

• The Rotosound swing bass roundwound will wear down my fret faster compared to another roundwound? Why? If that’s the case, can someone suggest another roundwound friendlier to the fret board?

• This is Greece. I guess an average US pawn shop has a greater variety of musical instruments than an upper end greek music store. Adding to this the impression that a bassist is the closest friend a musician can get, it’s no small feat that I have access to flatwounds. Sure there is a greater variety of guitar strings, but bass strings are limited to the most commercial brands (or at least to the ones store owners know by experience that will eventually be sold). This means that if I can find a European retailer for Ric strings i`d be more than happy. Failing that i`d be happy to know alternatives… I know there is a brand that it is forbidden to utter its name in this forum? Are they THAT bad?!? I`m asking because as far as I can recall are made in Europe…

Once again thanks for your concern man :)


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 Post subject: Re: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:47 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:58 am
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Location: En Zed
I've heard that the stock RIC strings are around 156lbs total tension and that most RIC basses will handle tension up to about 200lbs without problems. Tension below about 135 might be a bit floppy.

So, if you keep the tension in the range of 135 to 200lbs, just about any strings should be fine. As for the essential gauge, well, that's something of a personal preference. Thicker strings will have more tension, thinner less, for the same tuning.

In general, flats will sound a bit less twangy and piano like than rounds, but there is a lot of variation in sound between different manufacturers. Your best bet is to try out several different brands and types and see what you like. Yeah, that can get expensive, but it's really the only way to find out what you like.

Rotosound Swingbass strings are stainless steel, which is a harder metal than some other roundwound strings. So, they may cause wear faster than ones with softer metals. So called "nickle" rounds are often nickle plated steel, which is slightly harder than pure nickle, but generally softer than a lot of stainless alloys...


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 Post subject: Re: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:23 am
Posts: 53
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hey June, I recently acquired a couple of 4001V63s – a 2001 Fireglo and a 1993 Mapleglo. I love flatwounds for both feel and sound, and prefer as hefty a gauge as possible, so I've set both axes up with Ernie Ball Group I flatwounds (.055", .075", .090", .110") – the heaviest and stiffest flatwounds I can find, as used on my Jazz-style for 20+ years and still going strong! This required enlargement of the slots in the nuts of both axes, but I'm loving both feel and tone, and I heartily recommend!

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"Well, I'll be... the critter went and done it."


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 Post subject: Re: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:51 am
Posts: 8
Once again friends MONDO thanks for your answers, last ones (please bear me) !!!

Quote:
This required enlargement of the slots in the nuts of both axes

Oh-MY-Gosh!!!! This means that i will have to tinker with the metal bridge so the strings can go through the holes?!? If that’s the case over what gauge strings can’t pass through or over the bridge and tinkering is required?!? -I’m not sure the thought of some dolt with a cutter around my Ric excites me :)

Any information about European Rickenbacker strings dealer(s)?!?

Finally any thoughts about well tested, respected and Rickenbacker-approved flatwound and roundwound strings NOT made by Ric?

June S.


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 Post subject: Re: Rickenbacker 4003 strings 101
 Post Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:57 pm
Posts: 4
Oh-MY-Gosh!!!! This means that i will have to tinker with the metal bridge so the strings can go through the holes?!? If that’s the case over what gauge strings can’t pass through or over the bridge and tinkering is required?!? -I’m not sure the thought of some dolt with a cutter around my Ric excites me :)
June S.[/quote]

Hi June,
I believe you misunderstood the end of the bass that was mentioned- the NUT. The nut is at the top, where the strings pass to the headstock. Those slots would possibly need to be widened a bit to allow the strings to smoothly pass. If you are not familiar with that type of work, a good tech or luthier could do it for you. NO metal cutting is involved, only widening of the slots on the nut, which is made of bakelite,Ii believe.
good luck,
Garret


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