Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

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Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (Grebnaws) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:25 pm

Hello Everyone! I'm a new member looking for sage advice.

I inherited this bass from my father when he passed away two years ago on this very day. He was a bassist in his younger days and gigged this as his only bass for decades. Although he was a multi instrumentalist he only played bass live. Like many others, the dream slowly died and he left the music scene to raise his family by returning to school and continuing his life as a professional in education. He was a great father and unique man. My parents first met after my mother snuck into a club using a fake ID to get inside the door and the rest, as they say, is history. Very rock & roll. Three children, married once and forever and I'm the oldest son. I am a very hack bassist with none of the musical ability my father had but the instrument is very sentimental, as is the amp I also dragged home which is another story.

Anyhow. The bass is pretty worn out. I have some other fine playing instruments and I can tell this old Ric needs attention. Or does it?

The frets are worn smooth into the fretboard. The electronics seem good and it appears that this bass may have a later hi gain bridge pickup? I cannot tell if it originally had a pickup cover. It has a single output jack and appears to date to Dec 1968, which corroborates with the family history as it was purchased not long after. I'm reading now that this is sort of a transition year for Rickenbacker basses. The neck is wafer thin and I think the truss rods are working (likely maxed out) but the bass simply will not intonate. I installed some very light strings and did my best but it just isn't happening as the string clearance basically starts near zero at the 1st fret and gets progressively larger towards the body. Also, I have no love for this bridge design :lol:

I am not concerned at all with the body or finish wear. One of the tuners feels pretty bent in the action and I know the pickguard is not original, though well used. The mojo is priceless but it doesn't play very well. I would love to bring it back into spec with professional help but don't know if it's a smart path to pursue. I don't know who to trust working on such an instrument and even though I would like to have it refretted and set up by an expert (a Rickenbacker expert) but I don't really want it refinished. I don't mind keeping the bass as a totem but I also think it would serve better with some new life.

So, I'm really just looking for opinions on how to move forward with possible repair or restoration. I don't really know yet myself and need more information. I'm still trying to move forward after my father's passing and this being such a strong memory it's hard to make a decision.

Enjoy the pics! Although my hands are small, the baby hands in the picture do not belong to me!

https://imgur.com/RlE2b2E

https://imgur.com/hfXqWxP

https://imgur.com/IjaAEy6

https://imgur.com/13gHhG8

https://imgur.com/viknDhP

https://imgur.com/VpENkSQ

https://imgur.com/2EFbIQj

https://imgur.com/6NoQANm

https://imgur.com/a06QqWa

https://imgur.com/Csacxof

https://imgur.com/802sk1X

https://imgur.com/s5b5PY4

https://imgur.com/zqHmpuw

https://imgur.com/VEc1KWv

https://imgur.com/PSjthgZ

https://imgur.com/8YEDNNh

https://imgur.com/YBjaxfM

https://imgur.com/veZOUul
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (sloop_john_b) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:41 pm

Welcome, Sean! That's a really cool bass, and 1968 is one of the most desirable years for the Rickenbacker 4001.

When you say it "doesn't play very well", why do you feel that is? Is the action not low enough? I would wager that the intonation issues may be tied to the low frets.

Based on your post, if this bass were mine, I'd be doing minimal restoration work: a refret (without refinishing the entire board, if at all possible - the patina is absolutely lovely), a new pickguard, and have the binding glued back down. Basically, keep it as original as humanly possible but still playable.

Are you looking to restore it in order to sell? Or are you just looking to get it into good playing condition for yourself?

The electronics seem good and it appears that this bass may have a later hi gain bridge pickup? I cannot tell if it originally had a pickup cover.


The bridge pickup appears to be original. It would have had a cover over it when new.
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (farace) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:07 pm

Have you been trying to adjust the truss rods? Reason I ask is because Ric truss rods up to about ‘85 were unlike any other truss rods, and simply tightening them does not adjust them, and can cause damage to the neck. I would question whether the term “maxed out” should ever apply to Ric hairpin-style truss rods, as they’re only meant to be tight enough to hold the neck in a manually-adjusted position. There are folks here that are much more qualified than me to describe the proper adjustment procedure. I just want to warn you away from cranking the nuts down in hopes of achieving a lower action. They don’t work that way, and it’s possible that the rods will expand outward with enough force to pop the fretboard off.

Beautiful bass, though. I’m sure it can be brought to be playable for you.
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:44 pm

Man, that's a nice bass guitar! Wonderful background story and great photo of your father.

I have nothing to offer, but the advice of the previous two people is spot on -- keep it as original as practical, and don't mess any further with the truss rods (the person who works on the bass will do this for you).
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (jps) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:15 pm

The OP's link don't work for me, all I get are dark grey blank pages.

Please attach the images directly to the board, thanks.
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (Guzzitd63) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:57 pm

The links work fine for me.
And worth the effort IMO.

Sorry about the passing of your father.
That's a great bass (and awesome pic.)
Think "Conservation" rather than "restoration."
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:32 pm

I'm able to see the photos on both my iPad and PC....
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (bassduke49) » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:44 pm

I am not a luthier or a techie, but to me the frets look as though they have been filed down. Usually with worn frets, you see flat spots right under the strings, but your's don't look that way to me. Perhaps at some point he had the frets filed down to meet the worn spots. But again, I'm no expert on these things.

I can't see that any of the tuners is bent, but one is missing the main screw at the post.

Nifty time capsule, for sure.
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (clasbas) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:58 am

What a beauty!

I'll just add my vote to what's already been said - think conservation rather than restoration.

I think that you should add it to the Rickenbacker Register http://www.rickresource.com/register/. It really deserves a spot in there.
-------------
Bands: 2
Bass: -64 and -67
Amp: Sunn 300T
-------------
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (espidog) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:37 am

Hi Sean and welcome to the forum. :)

I notice that your user panel doesn't mention where in the world you live. If you pop your location in your profile, one of our members might be able to suggest a local (ish) bass-tech/restorer who knows their stuff re. vintage Ricks. Your baby is certainly going to need careful, knowledgable TLC.

bassduke49 wrote:I am not a luthier or a techie, but to me the frets look as though they have been filed down.


Absolutely. Those frets have been flattened deliberately - which is really odd, because the whole point of a fret is that its crowned shape provides a precise point of contact for the strings. It's definitely not natural wear, because the flattening appears to be the same on every fret. Re-fretting might not be necessary, though. Depending on just how low they are to the fingerboard, it might still be possible for a skilled bass tech to re-crown them.

If I were choosing a new pickguard for this bass, I'd go for an off-white/"aged" white, to chime in with the colour of the binding. A pure white one would look too stark.

Great shot of your dad in action ...I had fun just trying to count the number of drivers in that stack behind him! :shock: 8)
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (cheyenne) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:33 am

"Anyhow. The bass is pretty worn out" - Never!

She can live again, you came to the right place. Just needs a little TLC.
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (pag) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:34 am

Thats a gorgeous bass. Dont change anything if thats at all possible. Its best kept as close to your dads photo as you can if its to remain in the family. The nut looks like it needs attention and an expert restorer could fill the deep slots and re-file them for you. The frets are really low so a re-fret and neck adjust along with the nut restoration would make it totally playable. I personally would keep your dads pickguard and at some point source an original for any future sale. Other than that and an odd missing screw and bridge bolt its all intact. Restoration through a Resource expert member only! Your dad looked like a full on Rock God!
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (pag) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:38 am

And Sean..He has a Gibson Thunderbird back there..wow! Do you have that bass too?
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (cheyenne) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:48 am

One more thing, most 68's you see are Fireglo. Nice to see a Mapleglo pop up. :D

Good eye on the Thunderbird Pete, totally missed it.
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Re: Inherited 1968 Ric and need advice

Postby (StereoPlayer) » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:51 am

Sorry on the passing of your dad!

The bass needs some setup and care from a tech. Right off I can see the bridge saddles are not adjusted correctly and most likely are causing most of the intonation problems.

https://i.imgur.com/IjaAEy6.jpeg

Beautiful bass you got there. And don’t underestimate the ACC Acoustic 360 amp...very desirable!

Take your time and get her fixed up! Gorgeous!
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