1975 Rickenbacker 4001 Bass

Although this is a guitar-oriented blog, it’s important to show love to our four string brethren.  In fact, I’m sure many of us dabble in bass, or at least consider ourselves decent bassists (it’s just a guitar without the top two strings rights?) given it’s similarity to the guitar.  For me, bass holds a special place in my heart – for many a year it was my primary instrument, before I picked up the guitar.


During my “bass period” I played in a multitude of various bands, but focused mostly on Rock n’ Roll.  I had a small arsenal of basses – a Fender Jazz Bass and a Musicman Stingray – but was too young to be a serious connoisseur or collector.  My Dad’s good friend Steve lived up the street, and every time we’d go to his house I’d be drawn to this funky looking bass in the corner – his Rickenbacker.  Steve is an avid music enthusiast and hobbyist who has been part of all kinds of bands throughout his life, and his Rickenbacker was some of the last remaining evidence of his younger musical endeavors.

Originally, Steve was a keyboard player.  He had some wild prog-rock set up that most likely emulated some of his favorites of the day – Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Blue Oyster Cult, Yes, Boston, etc.  At some point, I believe Steve wanted to join a particular band – a group that needed a bass player, not a keyboardist.  In a common twist of fate that has led so many musicians to their true instruments, Steve traded his keyboard rig for the Rickenbacker and an amp.  Now I’m not sure if this was Steve’s true calling (and I have no more information on this particular group) but regardless – Steve acquired this beautiful bass that many years later, another young musician was admiring.

Steve was always a huge supporter of my music – from jam sessions with him and my Dad to my own bands, he was always a positive presence.  So one lucky Christmas day (or maybe it was my birthday) Steve and my Dad decided it was time to bestow the great power of the Rickenbacker upon me.  Alas, I was the proud owner of one of the coolest and most iconic instruments of all time.

This particular Rickenbacker is a 4001 model that was made in January of 1975 (indicated by the serial number “OA499” on the jack plate).  It has all of the classic Rickenbacker features – neck-through construction, triangle inlays, wave-crest headstock, and iconic body shape.  But beyond its aesthetic, there are some really unique features of the Rickenbacker.  Firstly, Rickenbackers have dual truss rods as opposed to the standard single truss rod.  This allows greater control of neck concave, specific to each side of the neck.  Second, Rickenbackers are famous for their stereo output jack.  Yes, as opposed to a single mono output jack, as seen on most electric instruments, Rickenbacker has two outputs, giving the player an option for a stereo/dual-mono sound.  As written on the jack plate, one output is “standard” and together they create the “Rick-o-sound.”  Basically, this makes each output jack correspond with one pick up, so with two cables  you can run them into separate amps or into the Rick-o-sound DI box that allows you to blend the two.  There are many varying opinions about the practicality of this option, but nevertheless, it makes the Rick unique.  Lastly, the neck-through construction gives the Rickenbacker its instantly identifiable tone that has become associated with the likes Paul McCartney, Geddy Lee, Lemmy, and many others.  The 4001 is a truly innovative and unique instrument that has undoubtedly earned its placed in music history.

So overall, this is a very special, classic axe that I am so grateful to have in my collection.  Although now I mainly play the six string, I always come back to my roots and slap the bass with the Rick.  From some random shop, to Steve’s prog-rock bands, to my own musical escapades, this bass has seen quite a bit in its almost 40 year life span.  Vintage instruments are special not only for their tone, but for their history, history that can give a particular instrument distinct tonanilty, unachievable from any physical material – tone only achievable through its own unique life.  I can only imagine what this bass will have to say in another 50 years!

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8 thoughts on “1975 Rickenbacker 4001 Bass

  1. Steve says:

    I really hated to part with that bass but I knew it would be in good hands and enjoy an extended life. And it gives me great pride to know that this is exactly what happened to it. Better yet I was very excited to see and hear it on stage a couple of times during one ir two of Justin’s performances. Oh, and don’t forget Chris Squire plays one as well and lights it up on the lesser known (but one of my favorite) Yes albums – Drama.

  2. Laurent says:

    That is definitely one beautiful bass!

  3. Adam McKay-Allen Jarvis says:

    I’ve always wanted a Ric, but their basses are hard to come by in Canada unless you’re someplace big like Toronto or Montreal. In my mind, the Ric is one of the “sacred 4,” the other 3 being the Fender Precision, Fender Jazz, and Music Man StingRay – lots of great bass history behind those instruments!

    A beautiful bass you have there – if you ever tire of it, I know of a loving home…. 🙂

  4. Looks like a trick looking bridge too – interesting post.

  5. Laurel Dean says:

    The Rickenbacker Manufacturing Co. made metal bodies for the National String Instrument Corp. back in the day. NSIC pioneered resonator guitars. What are your thoughts on resonator guitars? Just curious. Great post

  6. I’ve always wanted to own two basses, that Rickenbacker and an authentic Hofner violin Bass. I played with a very talented Bass player for several years that would make the RIck sound fantastic no matter what he plugged it into. Great Post!

  7. John Gray says:

    Had a 4001 Fireglow in the 60’s, brilliant bass, was never the same again, after an altercation with a, I wont say fan, at a venue in Coolangatta :))
    Ah memories of a fantastic bass

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