Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

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Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (Winston Smith) » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:41 am

Hi everybody, I'm new here and I know that this is a popular and debated topic on this forum, but yet I have to ask you.

I have a 4003 bass and I noticed a tail lift of about 4 or 5 mm at most, probably due to years of AEAD tuning with a very huge A string (140/135). Yes, I've been that stupid :)
Now, I'm playing some prog rock stuff with a drop D tuning, regular 105-45 strings and I was wondering if it would be a good idea to replace the bridge with the infamous hipshot. What do you guys think?
Aluminium or brass? Why?

I would really really like to make this bass more modern and lighter by installing the aluminium bridge and the hipshot ultralite tuners, the question is: is it worth it?

Another issue, while I play on the neck pickup on the E/D string, the string often comes in contact with the neck pickup pole, even if it is already pretty low. Any advice?

Thanks a lot guys :)
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (thx1955) » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:38 am

Hi Winston,
Welcome to the Forum, I'd say replacing the Bridge would be a good idea, and, you've multiple choices.

The Hipshot will certainly work, I've used, and use the brass version because it's denser and the weight doesn't bother me, the said it is a lot heavier than the Aluminium version, both are "drop in" and both will work well.

Another avenue to consider is the new Rickenbacker bridge which is great and will work perfectly well with the 105-45 strings, it is also half the weight of the Brass Hipshot, around 12oz compared to 23oz
Installing the new bridge will involve a couple of new (but hidden) holes to accommodate the anchor, but, it will completely cure any tail lift going forward.
The new bridge assembly comes with a template that allows for the accurate location of the new holes.

The neck pickup typically is not height adjustable but could be converted to allow you a little room to lower, there's not a lot though.
As for the tuners, I"d leave as is, and avoid putting more holes in the headstock, if they've become loose, they can be adjusted or replaced with ones that will fit the same hole pattern.
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (Kiddwad57) » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:58 am

Hey Winston,

I'm sorry you are experiencing excessive tail lift with your bass.

At one time I had really strong emotions about my experience with the Hipshot bridge. This was due to their marketing hype versus the reality of the situation:

"Our Rickenbacker® Bass Replacement Bridge will shake the faith of the most ardent Rick purists. Say goodbye to “tail lift”, maddening intonation and string height adjustments once and for all!" -Hipshot 2020

My experience, and I know for a fact that I'm not alone in this, is that due to a shallow breaking point, the lack of string tension over the bridge caused the individual pieces to clatter and flop under my plucking fingers. Then, on the very first gig (a light weight musical with no intense playing), the vibrations from the strings caused the grub screws to turn, lowering the height of the bridge pieces until they bottomed out. That led to spending the entire intermission setting up the bridge again! When the show was over I took the bridge off, boxed it up and sent it back. To correct these problems I could have used lock-tite on the grub screw threads and applied a dab of epoxy on the bottom of each of them to keep them in place, but I prefer having some adjustability.

My stock bridge does show a minor degree of tail lift but in the end I figured out which strings I liked, put them on, made a one time adjustment to the height and intonation, and everything was fine for years.

Hopefully Hipshot has addressed the issues and more power to them if so because as a (reasonably) "ardent Rickenbacker purist" I would be checking into the new Rickenbacker bridge.

As to your trouble with the drop D tuning, is the pickup pole higher than the end of the last fret on the neck? I have a Hipshot for that and it is fantastic!
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (ikay) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:24 am

Re weight of the new Ric bridge, thx1955 was kind enough to check that for me in another thread recently (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=416365&start=15) and it came out at 22oz. This compares with about 11oz for the standard bridge. Have to admit I'm surprised the new bridge is so much heavier but maybe its a more solid casting. I'm not sure about the mention of 12oz above?
4003v2 bridge weight.JPG
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (jdogric12) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:04 pm

DOes the weight of the old tailpiece include the bridge?
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (ikay) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:39 pm

The old tailpiece, including the bridge and mute, in the pic below weighs 307gm which is about 11oz.
Ric bridge.jpg
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (aceonbass) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:10 pm

Or you can save yourself a lot of $$$ by adding two screws to the rear of your tailpiece as seen on early 4003 tailpieces. You'll need to carefully bend your tailpiece back into shape.
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (thx1955) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:07 pm

ikay wrote:Re weight of the new Ric bridge, thx1955 was kind enough to check that for me in another thread recently (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=416365&start=15) and it came out at 22oz. This compares with about 11oz for the standard bridge. Have to admit I'm surprised the new bridge is so much heavier but maybe its a more solid casting. I'm not sure about the mention of 12oz above?
4003v2 bridge weight.JPG

12oz was my bad, I was mixing up the new and old bridge figures...
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (ram) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:35 pm

If it were mine I think I'd either do the new Ric replacement tail piece or add the two holes in the existing one (as Dane noted be careful bending it back).
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (Winston Smith) » Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:04 am

Thanks a lot guys!

1 - I went to rehearsals the other day and noticed that the tail lift is about 2 to 3 mm high, so I'm not that worried now.

2 - I would really like to mount the new RIC bridge but I'm scared by its price and the drilling. I don't know. When the time comes I will check again the Hipshot situation, maybe they will have it fixed by then. Moreover, I read on different threads that many people had no issues with their hipshot bridge (yeah, it is true that many people complains about the saddle moving and the screws getting loose...scheisse!). Now that we have two choices it is even more difficult :)

3 - Well, I used to have a very aggressive finger style because of the genre I was playing and I still like some fret clang here and there, so that's why my E string hits the neck pickup poles sometimes. I will check if the pole is higher or lower than the last fret.

4 - I will never ever try to straighten the old bridge and put the two screws. If I decide to drill a couple of holes in my Ric it will be only to install the new Ric bridge.

5 - I thought about the ultralite machineheads because I'd really like to resolve the well known neckdive issue. Anyway...it's not that bad though...BUT it will surely worsen if I install a lighter bridge assy.

Thanks again guys, great people in this community! Very useful forum for Ric owners and wannabe :D
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (aceonbass) » Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:04 pm

Winston Smith wrote: I thought about the ultralite machineheads because I'd really like to resolve the well known neckdive issue. Anyway...it's not that bad though...BUT it will surely worsen if I install a lighter bridge assy.


What well known neckdive issue?
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (rickenbrother) » Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:08 pm

aceonbass wrote:
Winston Smith wrote: I thought about the ultralite machineheads because I'd really like to resolve the well known neckdive issue. Anyway...it's not that bad though...BUT it will surely worsen if I install a lighter bridge assy.


What well known neckdive issue?


Really, it's a 4003, not a Thunderbird. :lol:
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (Winston Smith) » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:41 am

I know I know :D

But it tends to sit horizontally while I like to have the headstock it at face height.

Anyway, nothing unbearable.
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (lumgimfong) » Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:45 am

OP read this to reduce neckdive (and I bet the brass hipshot would really help, too.)

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=416450&p=869554&hilit=neck+dive#p869554
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Re: Tail lift on a 1998 4003 bass

Postby (doctorwho) » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:54 am

Remember that even this much lift can be recovered from (as long as the tailpiece is only bent, not cracked):
P1010135.JPG
4003S/5 SPC Blackstar as received ....
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