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Like an old friend that you can rely on.
I love the neck. Small and comfortable. The balance feels right. The body weight is light and the neck does not dive on you. Mine is a 1995 Model, and I am sooo glad that I got one of the last ones made in the old style tradition. (Before, the body was made smaller. Before the use of CNC's, were used). Hand cut and American made. I got caught up in the active pickups as well too. Passive gives you more of that old friend sound. I missed my old friend.
Only does a few things, does them better than anything else
A Ric 4001 is the bass that helped me find my musical voice. I upgraded to a 4003 a couple years later, in 2008. It's an amazing sounding instrument for melodies and bright sustain. I've come to find it a little clanky with round-wound strings, so I've set it up with flatwounds. As a result, it's not great with aggressive rock sounds, but is really great for warmer tones.
One thing worth noting is that I've had a few problems with the neck pickup over the years. I got it rewound, but it's always been a pain.
My Bass of Choice
My 2010 midnight blue Rick is my end all be all of basses. I've played many other ricks (4001s and 4003s) and find that what ever is up with this year and build happens to be perfect for my needs. It feels quite similar to a vintage 4001 with a thin neck, but longer fret board. Every new Rick I've played post 2010 has a fatter necks and doesn't feel quite as good in comparison.
Great sound! (But high gain pickupscan be a problem)
Man, this is such a beautiful bass! Mine is a 1996 Fireglo model and I could just stare at it forever. The neck is amazing, super smooth, perfect radius (for me), and the tuners are super-sensitive (not always a good thing, I actually broke I string because of it, but usually it's pretty useful). The tonal variations between the two pickups isn't too noticeable, but still adds a nice subtle timbre difference to fit to whatever style you're trying to play. The pickup cover is pretty stupid, I removed it almost immediately. Just gets in the way, although when you take it off, there are a couple of sharp parts exposed that one should be wary of when playing, especially without a pick. The bridge is my main problem. I say this because it has these built-in mutes, which seems great, but you have to lower your strings to the point where there is excessive fret buzz, rendering them a bit useless. Whenever I want to mute the strings, I either have to have fret buzz or only half-mute them. I would definitely recommend putting on some roundwounds and letting this thing just rip. It sounds so amazing! But, the high gain pickups often cause a lot of noise with the gain knob anywhere above 1.
Finicky, but an undeniable classic must-have
The 4003 may not have the vintage panache of an original 4001 but it is eminently more usable for the modern player. In late 2019 the original bridge design (seriously wanting in many ways) was finally dropped in favor of a more modern, useful version that carries most of the features of the Hipshot drop-in replacement, meaning Ricky fans could finally properly intonate (and palm mute risk-free if desired). The pull-circuit for the vintage capacitance may drop too much low end for today's use, but when you use it and crank up along with some classic Yes tunes you'll know why it's there.
If you're looking at this you should know what this is and how it sounds, but if you don't, let me explain.
Geddy Lee, Lemmy, Chris Squire, Bruce Foxton-all Ricky players. While the guitars are more than known and speak for themselves in the hands of people like Paul Weller, Peter Buck, Pete Townsend, Kurt Ballou, J. Mascis and so on, a Ricky bass has been the mark of someone that's not messing about for a long, long time.
This, the 4003, is a maple-bodied Jekyll and Hyde. The neck pickup gives serious 60's plum and bonk, and the bridge pickup is a drooling, spiny, runaway train. Seen in the hands of innumerable players within the heavy scene - not least Al Cisneros of Om/Sleep and Tatsu Mikami of Church Of Misery - this is a serious weapon if you want it to be. More than capable of handling detuning thanks to its ubiquitous two-truss-rod system, the 20-fret Ricky will crush everything if you want, or cut through the entire band if you don't. Bang on.