Rickenbacker 4003

4003, 4-string bass guitar from Rickenbacker in the 4000 series.

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All user reviews for the Rickenbacker 4003

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Average Score:4.8( 4.8/5 based on 26 reviews )
 24 reviews92 %
 1 user review4 %
 1 user review4 %
heads on fire03/04/2012

heads on fire's review"As good as it gets."

Rickenbacker 4003
There are bass guitars, and then there is THIS bass guitar. This is an icon in the world of music, for many reason. Firstly, I'll list some of the features of the bass, then I'll give my opinion about it.

The bass is a neck through, with a maple body and neck, 2 truss rods, and a rosewood fretboard. The fretboard has Rickenbacker's signature triangle inlays and 20 frets. The bass has 2 single coil pickups, a 3 way toggle switch, and 2 volume and 2 tone controls. It also features stereo output, for a huge sound!


This bass transcends all other 4 string models. It is a masterpiece, it is an island, it is a religion. The 4003 is so darned cool that it will make even the snobbiest bassist smile. The neck has a very positive, solid feel, and it wants to be played with a pick. The playability is out of this world, and very inspiring.


Cliff Burton! Lemmy Kilmeister! Chris Squire! There are all sorts of bassists in the classic rock realm that play a 4003, but the one think they all have in common is that their tone is enormous! Is this a coincidence? NO - IT'S THIS BASS. The pickups have an incredible growl to them, and the dual outputs aid in obtaining a huge sound. One thing I've experimented with is plugging one side into a clean amp rig and the other side into a fuzz pedal into an amp, and blending them. It sounds positively elephantine!


This might be the most enthusiastically glowing review I ever write about any instrument, but it is deservedly so. The 4003 has been around a long time, and is an icon in the world of the electric bass. It doesn't do everything, but what it does it does better than anything else out there. This bass absolutely rules.

MGR/Billy's review"Rickenbacker 4003"

Rickenbacker 4003
A close friend who will remain nameless said, 'Hey man I'm splitting up with my wife and was wondering if I could stash my Rickenbacker at your place for awhile?'

6 months rent free usage of a Rickenbacker 4003 bass? Who would say no! The classic Rick-o-sound, flatwound strings, I instantly has 'The Paul McCartney tone' at my finger tips.

Well I explained most of this information above because it made a better intro! To get a new Rickenbacker 4003 you need to find one first of all. Rickenbacker only makes a limited number of instruments a year, so you are lucky if you can find one let alone a model or finish of your choice. The price is just around $2,000.

This bass really had personality. The maple body and neck really make this thing snap! There is something special about a good Rickenbacker and well any good instrument for that matter. An instrument that you can feel change with your climate. You can really feed off of your emotions and become one with the instrument. Alright, enough Star Wars talk!

It is really hard to find other Rickenbackers and since they are mostly handmade they all sound a little different.

It is worth the quest though if you can find a good one!

Maple body and Maple neck. Rosewood fretboard with the hip triangular pearloid inlays. The Rick O Sound offers you a stereo or mono send. My favorite setup was send one side to a dirty guitar amp and the other to a clean loud bass rig.

Everyone should own a Rick! If we all owned Ricks, world peace would happen! Well OK, maybe not. If you're a bass player you need to experience a 4003.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com

iamqman's review"My Favorite Bass!!"

Rickenbacker 4003
What are the odds of finding a used 4003 fro around $200. Well fortunately enough I did. I had a buddy of mine selling it for that price...though it had been pretty beat. Nonetheless the neck was straight and very playable. I believe it was an early 80's model because it had a solid feel to it unlike the newer ones that I have played. The knobs are simple much like any other Ric or Gibson guitar.

The bass had a rock feel similar to a P-Bass from Fender. Not necessarily a a smooth bass but I guess you can be the judge for yourself depending on your playing technique. I found it to be very suitable for rock and pop music. This isn't going to be bass for the progressive jazz fusion bass player by any means. However, if your into straight ahead rock, metal, or pop, then this bass will fit your needs quite well.


One problem I had faced was a couple dead frets but taken to the local luthier he fixed it right up. The setup is simple like all Rickenbackers with the volumes and tone knobs. I did have stereo output but I never used it. The neck had such a great feel and comfort to it that really connected to my technique of playing. The design is unique as well. Nothing looks like a Rickenbacker, so it definitely stands out and a great piece.

It didn't take long once I got it back from the guitar doctor to find a nice sweet spot with this guitar. It seems that it is accustomed to making great tones with where ever you set the dials. To me the feel is everything when it comes to guitars and this things felt so fine and playable. I regret selling it to my bass player.


I was mostly playing rock music with this bass. I had an Ampeg bass amp that used mostly. I also used an Ashdown amp that really shook the foundations. I love the way this guitar sat in the band mix. It filled the room with fine tone and had a good communion with the drummer. It really just screams rock n roll.

Interestingly enough I think this is the only instrument Rickenbacker makes that works with rock metal. Just look at Lemmy from Motorhead. Not sure if he uses a real Ric but it is the same body style.


When the time comes again to pick up a solid bass this one will be the one I choose. I love the way it feels and sounds. I found the compliment it gave my band was a step in the right direction.

I have played all the Fender basses, Carvins, Wyn, Hanewinckel, and Gibson's and there are good ones there for certain uses. For me I love the old Rickenbacker 4003's. It is a nice solid bass that can be a player's dream. I would recommend this to any bass player.

moosers's review

Rickenbacker 4003
The Rickenbacker 4003 is a fretted electric bass guitar, and in my opinion is one of the coolest of its kind.  Rickenbacker has been around a while and has built a great reputation for making extremely solid instruments that not only feel and sound great, but have looks that could kill.  The 4003 is one of their best models that I have experience with.  The bass has two single coil pick ups, along with a pick up selector switch and volume and tone knobs for each of them.


The feel of the neck of the Rickenbacker 4003 is pretty great.  It isn't like most other basses out there, but in its own way it is easy to play for sure.  The neck is thick and very round, which is what gives it its interesting feel.  Playing all around the neck isn't a hard thing to do, as I find it just as easy to play up on the high notes as it is to play down low.  The shape is one that has been part of the reason that Rickenbacker is so popular, and the weight is heavier than most bass guitars out there.  Getting a great sound from the 4003 is as easy and knowing how to play it!


If you have ever heard a Rickenbacker before, the 4003 embodies everything great about this type of sound.  The sound has a lot of slap and thwack, but also covers the low end brilliantly and cuts through a mix perfectly.  Unlike most basses, the 4003 sounds great both when played down low and when played for bass 'lead' type parts.  I've only used the 4003 in the recording studio, and I used it through both an amp and a DI box, blending the two sounds later on.  Rickenbacker basses have a very distinct tone, and is one that can be spotted from a mile away...


The Rickenbacker 4003 is one of the better models of bass guitar offered by Rickenbacker, which is saying a lot considering the great line of basses that they have available.  The 4003 isn't cheap, as it will run you about two grand in USD, but for those bass players looking for this type of tone and who want to invest in a bass that will last a lifetime, the price isn't outlandish by any stretch.  If you're in the market for a top tier bass guitar, Rickenbackers in general should be scoped out for sure, especially the 4003.

MGR/Anonymous's review"Rickenbacker 4003JG"

Rickenbacker 4003
I am mostly a studio musician who records a lot in his home studio, I occasionally play in bands too, but not very frequently. I own a great number of basses and guitars (I also play the guitar). The styles I play are funk with a jazzy undertone, alternative, pop, and rock. I have played the bass for 11 years now.

I bought the instrument in a guitar shop in Utrecht in the Netherlands, I paid 1500 Euros for it (=$1800). The instrument turns out rare here, so I was quite lucky that I just stumbled on one accidentally, while inquiring about a different bass. I decided to buy it right away, because I didn't think I would get the chance again very quickly. I haven't regretted it.

I like the deep grumbling sound of it. It punches through everything, even if you play it at a very low volume.

I have read many times that it doesn't slap very well, but I have no problem slapping it. I think the problem is just that the attack is not as steep as many other basses, which require you to adapt your technique a little bit - slap it somewhat further on the neck, away from the pick-ups. It gives a wonderful metallic sound when you do this. I absolutely love it.

I think the neck is a little too wide. I very much like the width (and sound) of my Fender Jazz bass, and I always have to acclimatise when I put the one away to play the other.

The seller told me that everybody who buys a Rick bass always screws off the pick-up hood. I did so too, I think it is tremendously in the way. Unfortunately, it leaves an ugly hole when you do this.

I also think the scaling screws are placed in quite an inconvenient position. You have to unscrew the entire bridge to adjust them.

I have never understood how people can think it is a beautiful instrument. I think it is absolutely hideous. It reminds me too much of a cadillac.

It's built like a tank, plays like a tank, and weighs like a tank, but I don't mind so much.

I mostly see this bass as a valuable addition to my other basses, which have a completely different feel and personality to them. So, if you are looking for a powerful, grumbly, dominant sound, and if you don't mind the weight, I think it could be a wonderful instrument.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com
MGR/St Elmo\'s Fire11/24/2005

MGR/St Elmo\'s Fire's review"Rickenbacker 4003"

Rickenbacker 4003
I've been playing bass guitar for years now, some odd number that I can't exactly remember, although it's somewhere over five. I've played in a couple bands, and still actively perform. My interests range from shoegaze and electro-pop to alt-country and folk, and a lot of places inbetween.

I came upon this guitar from my father, and I've more or less adopted it off of him. I couldn't tell you how much he paid, as I don't know, but I more or less got it as a gift.

The Rickenbacker's an absolutely gorgeous guitar, completely unique but not in the hideous manner of a lot of the basses that try to come off as unique. Rather, it is unique in the amount of class it exudes, and it is remarkably comfortable. The action is very nice, as is the neck-length. The tone is to-die-for, rich, deep, and punchy, and that trait of the Rickenbacker has kept me more than happy. It is in fact a crucial element of the band I play in, and switching to my backup bass really doesn't match up.

The only real lack of the Rickenbacker is that it doesn't slap well. Conveniently enough, I rather dislike slapping, and don't use that technique. It can slap, but if you're wanting a bass just for slapping, pick something else, but not many people want a bass just for slapping.

The construction and quality is beyond impeccable. Every detail is perfectly done, and despite its age, the entire thing feels as good as new. My personal favorite trait though is how well it holds tune, in that I can go without tuning for weeks at a time only to check it and see that it is still perfectly in tune.

If you're looking for a classy bass with a deep, rich bass, and a punchy upper-end, here's your best bet on that matter. I've played nice Fender's and nice Ibanez's, and I've yet to find a bass that's impressed me as much as the Rickenbacker that I have.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com
MGR/Mark S03/10/2004

MGR/Mark S's review"Rickenbacker 4003"

Rickenbacker 4003
Purchased from "The Rockinn", Perth, Western Australia. early 2004 for $2200Aud (equiv to $1600 US) included the standard (ABS?) hard case.

Everything... OK seriously - I've wanted one from the age of about 9 - it's the funkiest looking bass in town and does it without looking pretentious like many of the new "retro style" basses do.
great neck - NO - truly great neck- though the action needed tinkering with, and what's with the weight issue everyone goes on about? I certainly found it to be well balanced and a reasonable mass for it's size.

Sound wise it is far more versatile than I expected with great tonality and briliant sustain - my poor Yamaha BB is now gathering dust.
On the bridge pickup it is bright and sharp and on the neck it is thumping without being too dark. Controls are just right for rolling back a bit of treble from the bridge or a bit of volume from the neck pickups to get any tone in between.

it come off a poor second to my Washburn Status bass for pure instant deep punch and for slap/pop playing - which is not surprising given the Washburn's longer scale graphite neck, double ball end strings and active electronics - it's not so much an issue of being in a different league it's that they are playing a different game. This doesn't phase me as it does every thing else brilliantly.

It is quite sensitive to interference due to single coil(non humbucking) pickups. I have to turn off fluro lights and CRT monitors when I DI it in to record - But with jamming and live work it's fine.

A1 - in all seriousness I can not find a single fault in it maybe I could say that I don't like that the bottom strap pin is what it rests on if not on a guitar stand and that the jack plate could be further round to the bottom of the body as it puts stress on the jack when stood up with out a guitar stand but this is clutching at straws and says more about the fact that I need to buy an extra guitar stand ;)

It's not every day that dream and reality actually meet in the same room - but this bass meet then exceeded my expectations. What little it gives up in playing style versatility (re: slap) it gains tree fold in growling attitude stand apart appearence and first class quility of construction.
OK so it's not truly the perfect bass and I'd like to pair it with a music Stingray to have what I would consider to be the best of both worlds... but that's another dream :)

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com
Mac kern02/01/2004

Mac kern's review"Rickenbacker 4003 FG"

Rickenbacker 4003
I bought this Bass in a music store in France where i live, it was a used guitar 2 years old when i bought it in January 1994. It paid about 11OO dollars (960 euros).

I like everything in this Bass, great sound, great look (very vintage but that's what i like). The neck is specially easy to play very thin! GREAT!!!

I can't tell!!!
Perhaps the weight...?

The quality of this bass is amazing! This is a hand made bass and you touch and feel that when seeing it!
The varnish only begins to tarnish now and this guitar was built in 1992 and i use it every single day and in gigs too!
In 12 years i never had a problem with it.

The Ric' is one of the unit that you can say about it: "It makes me play better"
The sound is strong and typical but you can use it for everykind of music and style!
Moreover this guitar is realy original and rare compare to a P-Bass for instance! (I have one too!)

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com
MGR/Phil Miller12/01/2001

MGR/Phil Miller's review"Rickenbacker 4003"

Rickenbacker 4003
Bought at Jacksons, Syndey 2001.
Paid $2,850 (came with hard case - me ?).

It's a Ric !
I always wanted one since I played bass in bands back in the early 70's.

It punishes my mistakes.
For the last 25 years I have only played an accoustic guitar so the electric bass is a little different - and I have to learn all over again.

It's cool.
Looks good, and the quality is great.
It is classic Rickenbacker and I'm really pleased with that.

I played a few other basses and they were good too, but they weren't Rickenbacker - if you want one then that's all that'll do.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com

Rick'o'Sound's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" All qualities that defects ..."

Rickenbacker 4003
Purchased in 2013.

For the characteristics or the Rickenbacker website ...


- Nice and easy to play neck,
- Acute excellent access,
- Unique and brand specific function: a system of palm-muting integrated easel. With the neck pickup, one can easily get the sound of a bass.

- The system of palm-muting Rickenbacker described above prevents paradoxically ... the palm-mute with the right hand! A real disadvantage, because for me this technique is necessary to me ...
- Cache pickup requires the strings to stay very close to the microphone. It shows a very aggressive sound without bass, without definition, simply unusable, even for extreme music. It is therefore necessary to remove it, it leaves a hole, it's ugly! And I'm already injured fingers on the remaining metal part after removal of said cover.
- The difference in volume between the two microphones: the set at both ends will not change anything ...
- The difference in sound between the strings: MI does not sound, the note is dead on the rope, which creates a gap between his pretty awful MI ropes and LA ... unbearable.
- The two truss rod require a very special key to be set as Rickenbacker found aa smart to create a particular truss rod system. Result, despite all kinds of tools available to my garage can not find a key to setting these rods.

I'll stop there I think ...


The sound is very medium. To enter the bacon is perfect but more groove damn it ... I play in a band of Rock / Blues / Boogie and it's not going very well ...


I use it for a year ... Raz-le-bol, I should have done like everyone else, buy a Fender. It's not original but then at least you got a good sound.
Yet it's a shame I've always been attracted by its shape, its look, which is unique. I'm really disappointed I end up with an instrument that has cost me dearly and I do not want. A MUST TEST BEFORE YOU BUY!