360/6 setup advice

Setup, repair and restoration of Rickenbacker Instruments

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360/6 setup advice

Postby (tom_b) » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:25 am

I have a 660/12 and have long been eyeing a 360. Recently I've run across a NOS (early 2014) 360/6 at a good price but have some setup concerns before I decide whether to buy. It has been in the store inventory a good while and quite honestly plays poorly which is I'm sure why it hasn't sold. The action is quite high overall, bridge to nut. First position chords pull the G string out of tune even using a very light touch and an F chord is uncomfortable because of the height at the nut. Intonation is out, strings are probably original (a bit dull). Several of the strings are offset from the center of the saddles, but the string spacing still seems pretty uniform. Sighting the neck the fret line indicates some relief rather than pretty much flat as would be desired. The store will not set it up and there is no return since the guitar is clearance priced. I pretty much tweak my own guitars but I have much more practice with Fenders and Gibsons than Rics. I'm not really intimidated by any single issue I've described except for the nut height. I want to enjoy the guitar but am torn between taking a chance on it vs. walking away (which I've done to this point). Is it difficult for the semi-informed tweaker to perhaps remove the nut and sand down the bottom -- the nut slots would likely be too deep if adjustment were made from the top. Or is there perhaps too much going on to mess with it myself? I've never paid someone to fully set up any guitar, much less a Ric. I'm not opposed to that as long as it doesn't offset the savings in initial cost too much (it's priced at about 50% of MSRP), in which case I'd probably just wait for another. Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (strummersteve) » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:12 am

It sounds to me like someone may have tinkered with this guitar prior. I can understand the neck being slightly bowed and the strings being old. I would be concerned about the nut for sure and also the fact that the store refuses to do any kind of setup on the guitar prior to purchase. If it's priced at about 50% of MSRP ($1200 - $1300), it may be worth it if it really is NOS and you know someone who is good repairing Rickenbacker guitars. As far as where you live, are there any other Rickenbacker dealers in your area? If there are other dealers, I would tend to stay away from the store that this one is in since they are not very cooperative. Last but not least I would get the S/N from the guitar and check with RIC customer service to see if it was registered and really is NOS. You may want to also keep in mind that the Rickenbacker warranty starts on the date of manufacture, not the date of purchase and if this store is not an authorized Rickenbacker dealer, there is no warranty. I hope that this helps a bit.

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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (Badanovski) » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:14 pm

The action at the nut on my 4004 was ridiculously high. I was short on cash & couldn't afford a proper set up. I had read in several places that sanding the bottom of the nut never works out. Still I thought, if you're careful it should be okay. They were right!! :mrgreen:
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (Ric5150) » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:13 pm

They don't necessarily aim for the centers of the saddles, so that isn't too alarming - neither is the need for a truss rod tweak. The neck relief, old strings, and nut could be all that's wrong with intonation.

I picked up one of the 2014 360c63SPCs when they came out and had the same issue with the nut being really, really high. Even just a D sounded terrible. Spent a bit of time trying to figure out why I couldn't tune it before figuring out that was the issue. (The kid at GC went and got me a tuner and then still asked if I needed help - and I still let him get the sale. :? ) Same year, so maybe a trend there.

I went ahead and just started deepening the slots. I'm far from being a luthier, but bought a set of files a few years ago and have used them on a couple of guitars. I was pretty surprised how deep I had to go, and quite honestly they could probably stand to go a bit deeper but it's a little hard to 'undo' if you go too far. Anyway, went a good bit deeper than I expected, and had been planning to come back later and take the top of the nut down, but quite honestly, I haven't had any issues with the deeper-than-normal slots, so haven't gotten back to it. Deeping the slots a bit probably won't be a big deal. You can always take the top of the nut down if you have tuning stability issues. Being a little uneven on the top isn't as bad as being uneven on the bottom if your work isn't perfect.

Nice blueburst avatar, by the way. :D
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (tom_b) » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:49 pm

Thank you all for your very good advice. I decided to purchase it, a nice simple Mapleglo with a touch of birdseye, and am in the middle of setting it up. The guitar was clearanced at GC, a local Ric dealer, and their policy is not to allow returns on such items. Turns out they are having a "reopening" since they've finished their store remodel; the Regional VP for GC was at the door greeting everyone. He saw me commiserating for some time in the Platinum Room, walked over and began talking with me. After hearing my concerns he told me I could bring it back if I wasn't satisfied (got it in writing just for good measure), he said he didn't want me to keep the guitar if I wasn't happy with it. Really nice guy and someone who knows how to represent and stand by his product. They assured me it has never been sold, but I'll follow up next week with the factory to verify (good advice). All that, plus each of your experiences and comments, was enough to swing me over and give it a try.

The neck had a lot of relief, 0.028", at the 8th fret. Bringing it to straight has already helped tremendously, string height and intonation to follow. I won't do anything beyond turning screws until I'm positive I'll keep it -- no nut work until then. There are a couple of odd buzzes, nothing audible when amplified, but maybe they'll be addressed through the rest of the setup. Just for information and comparison, what kind of string height/action do some of you use and if you don't mind, tell me how you measure. I'm used to measuring at the 17th fret ala Fender.

Again, I really appreciate each of you taking the time to provide feedback. Thanks also for the gracious avatar comment, you ought to know a good blueburst when you see one. :D
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (strummersteve) » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:21 pm

tom_b wrote:<Snip>Just for information and comparison, what kind of string height/action do some of you use and if you don't mind, tell me how you measure. I'm used to measuring at the 17th fret ala Fender.

For what it's worth, I tend not to measure string height. With the neck straight, I simply try to get the action as low as possible without buzzing. If you are comfortable, I would not adjust the nut at all. What I usually do to check the string height is hold the string down on the 1st and 12h or 13th fret. Then with the string held down is to tap on the string at around the 7th fret. At that point there should be a space less than the thickness of a business card (almost but not touching the fret). I find that by measuring the height you will not be thinking of the sound and comfort factor. Simply put, go for the sound and comfort and forget about the measurements and most of all enjoy!! Congratulations!!
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (tom_b) » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:06 pm

Just as an update, now that I've finished it plays beautifully, intonation and action are great. The nut is a tad high, not nearly as bad as I originally feared. I'll eventually get that worked on just to ease the pressure required for 1st and 2nd fret notes. It's an awkward balance trying to use light pressure to keep from pulling notes slightly sharp, but needing enough pressure to keep the notes clear. Anything above the 3rd fret is almost too easy!

I had some rattles/buzzes and checked every spring, screw, etc. I thought the truss rod might even be rattling. Turned out it was two of the washers on the top of the tuning posts. Snugged up the nuts and all is good. I though it was fretting out on the high E above about the 20th fret (not that I ever play there). Turns out the neck pickup was way too high causing the string to contact it, easy fix. I'm really enjoying the great tone playing through a Fender DRRI. I have a Line6 Variax and was used to the "sounds" produced, but it's no comparison to the lush tone of the real thing. Thanks again for your comments and for sharing your experiences.
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (Ric5150) » Tue Apr 05, 2016 1:57 am

Glad it's working out for you. It amazes me how bad they allow necks/setups to get at GCs some times. I can't remember what it was right now but I remember trying 3 guitars of the same model several years ago. None of them would play open strings without significant buzzing and anything fretted was completely dead - on all 3 of them. Pretty hard to try out a guitar when you can't play anything on it...

My setup approach is incredibly non-scientific. Capo the 1st fret, then press the low E string down behind the last fret. That takes the nut and bridge out of it. On most guitars, I set the neck where I can just barely insert a Fender medium pick (or a similar thickness) between the E string and the 7th fret. (Yes, I know, I'm doing it "wrong". On a Rick, I'll generally go a little lower such that the pick is a little thicker than the gap - but I still like a little relief in the neck.)

From there I adjust bridge height just slightly past where it stops buzzing. If the strings are then higher than I like, it's either unlevel frets or the nut is too high.

Glad you're enjoying the 360.
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Re: 360/6 setup advice

Postby (tom_b) » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:21 pm

After playing it as it was for 3 yrs, I finally got the nut worked on this week. Much, much better now, 1st position chords no longer pull it out of tune. I was hesitant to let just anyone work on a Ric but in the end a nut is a nut. Looking back, it was definitely a good purchase for me, very satisfied.
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