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polara

Pretty epic new Atlanta guitar shop, and who digs Rickenbackers?

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WHEN I WAS A KID

Chris Squire and Geddy Lee were my bass heroes, so I saved and scrapped so that at age 19, starting to gig pretty regularly, I got a Rickenbacker 4001. Did hundreds of gigs with it over the next ten years, as my only bass. Reliable as a rock, never a hiccup. Yeah, I regret selling that one, but in a fit of pique after I tired of The Industry, I was quitting music. So...

FAST FORWARD

I'd picked up a '74 Gretsch pretty cheap a year or so back, but didn't really dig it. Historically interesting but not much fun to play. It sat for a long time, until last week Missus Polara and I stopped into Big House Guitars, which is literally a walk from our place. Guy who started it owns a contracting company and has collected guitars since the 80s. He'd accumulated over 300 guitars, put two and two together, and rehabbed an old house into a guitar shop. Wood floors,  cool vibe, places to hang out... pretty impressive. And dang, the instruments. A ROW of Gibson Victory guitars. Darned near every Les Paul variant you could hope to find. Wacky old Fenders,a '47 Gibson J-45,  a few Gretsches, and... couple Rickenbackers. 

I hadn't pickup a Ric up in over a decade. A midnight blue 620 was lurking quietly though. Pretty color. Picked it up and... well, we did a little trading with the Gretsch.

THE RICKENBACKER

Brand new, though a 2018. Very well finished, not too heavy, easy to hold. A little orange peel in the finish along one edge on the back though, which shouldn't have passed QC. Binding and frets and nut are great. This is literally the first guitar I've bought that needed no setup. Fairly low action, absolutely flat neck, perfectly intonated, no rattles or buzzes. Didn't have to turn a wrench!

Rics get ragged on for having narrow necks but it measures 1.625 inches at the nut, which is cut so the E strings are pretty close (but not too close) the the edge. They also allegedly have thin necks, but this is a nice medium "U" shape that isn't big, but I've played Fenders with necks that felt smaller. What is weird, but I happen to love, is that it doesn't get drastically wider or thicker as it goes up. They also get grief over the lacquer over the rosewood. Feels weird but not bad. It just is what it is. The frets are not big, but I can bend all I want, and it feels nice.

Sound. It's a solid body, with their "high gain" pickups. Sounds pretty rock, nowhere near as much treble as a tele, much warmer than I'd expect from a maple guitar with single coils. works just fine on high gain, isn't as chimey as a Jazzmaster in the middle setting. It's honestly a fine rock 'n' roll guitar. As demonstrated below, they're not for jangle only.

The bridge is pretty weird looking, and it's annoying to restring, as you need three hands to keep the ball end in the tailpiece, hold the string in the tuner, and wind it on. I already ordered Hipshot lockers that are an exact fit for the factory Schallers so I can just pull the string snug, lock, and then tune. But it's not the quirky, rattly, pencil-necked jangle-box people talk about. I like it. Anyone else here play them?

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Posted (edited)

The only time I physically go into a local guitar store these days, is for relatively simple repairs that I'm not able to do on my own; or for something I need ASAP that otherwise I'd get via mail order, like strings.

I used to have a couple of late '80s Rics back in the '90's, a 330 six-string and a 360/12, both in Fireglo.  They were OK, but I had a love/hate relationship with them, trying to get 'that Ric sound' like the records back then, with limited resources.  I also remember that the four-point bridge on one of them kept trying to become a three-point bridge, as one of the height adjustment screws/posts kept losing contact with the metal plate underneath that was attached to the guitar itself; and that support screw/post needed frequent adjustment for full, even contact across all four support screws/posts.  That was probably caused by string vibration when playing.  Nowadays, there's upgraded hardware to prevent that from happening.   These days, if I want chime and sparkle, I just reach for a Tele or Tele-style Partscaster and do some control adjustments on either the guitar and/or amp.

Edited to add:  I do like me some Unknown Hinson...BTW, Squidbillies (with UH as the voice of Early Cuyler) is back for a new season on Adult Swim/Cartoon Network this Sunday August 11 at Midnight ET/PT:

 

Edited by crunchee
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 My last Ric was a nice mapleglo 360 that I sold on this board. Neck was narrow but actually beefy enough in the hand. I could zip pretty quick on it but big blues bends WERE a lot of work and the guitar didn’t sustain as well as a solid body with either toasters or Hi-Gains. I had an awesome 650 with a wide neck that was a beast. I only let it it go to fund my first Hamer back in the mid 2000s. I had one other 360 that wasn’t as good as the last one. Overall I like them and would LOVE to have a 650 again. 

 

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Get one of these. Non-destructive, bolt-in replacement for the PITA, "R", tailpiece. Not as stylized as the Ric tailpiece, but worth it for the sound and convenience.

Ric_conversion.jpg

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, RobB said:

Get one of these. Non-destructive, bolt-in replacement for the PITA, "R", tailpiece. Not as stylized as the Ric tailpiece, but worth it for the sound and convenience.

Ric_conversion.jpg

Winfield also mentions that the stock 'R' tailpiece can occasionally suffer from 'Exploding Tailpiece Syndrome', which is what happens when the bracket that holds the 'R' tailpiece in place gives up the ghost from metal fatigue due to prolonged string tension, and fails:

https://winfieldvintage.com/parts/trapeze.html

Edited by crunchee
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12 hours ago, polara said:

A ROW of Gibson Victory guitars.

That's simultaneously cool and bizarre. Proof that there's a collector for nearly anything that's ever been manufactured.

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10 hours ago, crunchee said:

Winfield also mentions that the stock 'R' tailpiece can occasionally suffer from 'Exploding Tailpiece Syndrome', which is what happens when the bracket that holds the 'R' tailpiece in place gives up the ghost from metal fatigue due to prolonged string tension, and fails:

https://winfieldvintage.com/parts/trapeze.html

Here is the 360 after the conversion (Mastery bridge, too!):

RicField.jpg

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Posted (edited)
On 8/9/2019 at 3:01 PM, RobB said:

Here is the 360 after the conversion (Mastery bridge, too!):

RicField.jpg

How do you like that Mastery? The factory bridge is a weird design but not rattling or falling apart.  Does it alter the sound noticeably?

 

Edited by polara
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Posted (edited)

ETA: If your stock Ric bridge is solid and rattle-free, there’s really no reason to go to the cost/wait of a Mastery replacement. In the case of my guitar, it was a road dog and the bridge was pretty wonky. It was a fun restoration project! Dig this: the previous owner used Ric rubber pickguard spacer/grommets to mount the toaster pickups. Oy, what a maroon!

The Mastery bridge is a quality, next-step upgrade of the Ric bridge. Dial in the setup, then lock the four bridge-posts with Allen screws in the base. It was easy to install, requiring no mods/drilling.  

Sound-wise? I did notice a bit more presence and volume, but the guitars basic sound is still there. I changed the strings to Chrome Flats, too, so that prolly imparted a bit more balls to the tone. 

Edited by RobB
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Posted (edited)

As stock, the upper register on my 360 was pretty dead/plinky sounding. That was the impetus for me trying a Mastery... and it made a big difference in that department. Great bridge, despite the Ric zealots pointing out that it's a downgrade since it only has two saddles and could never possibly intonate (plot spoiler: it intonates just fine; even have an action shot of it below ;) )

Still have the crappy pot metal tailpiece... solely for aesthetics.

cW7IsMB.jpg

 

I definitely have a love/hate thing with Rics, but I've always had one or a few bumping around here for the past few decades. Bought the 78 mapleglo (now gone) when I was 16 for a whopping $250 with OHSC.

qKRy47w.jpg

Edited by chromium
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I went into a guitar shop in Atlanta in a converted house probably 15-20 years ago, but it was pretty small.  I can't remember the name but he had some really cool stuff and he told me at the time that the Black Crowes guys did a lot of business with him.  I wonder if it's the same guy just in a larger location?

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On 8/9/2019 at 9:22 AM, Biz Prof said:

That's simultaneously cool and bizarre. Proof that there's a collector for nearly anything that's ever been manufactured.

That's exactly what I think every time I see a Ric thread.  ;) 

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7 hours ago, tommy p said:

I went into a guitar shop in Atlanta in a converted house probably 15-20 years ago, but it was pretty small.  I can't remember the name but he had some really cool stuff and he told me at the time that the Black Crowes guys did a lot of business with him.  I wonder if it's the same guy just in a larger location?

Atlanta Vintage?  I bought a badassed Mapleglo 360/OS there that I wish I’d kept...

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What does, “OS”, indicate?

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50 minutes ago, RobB said:

What does, “OS”, indicate?

"Old Style" - or "WB" (With Binding)

 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/11/2019 at 8:42 AM, RobB said:

Dig this: the previous owner used Ric rubber pickguard spacer/grommets to mount the toaster pickups. Oy, what a maroon!

IIRC, that's how Rickenbacker used to mount many of their pickups onto their guitars, back in the '60's.  I've seen original '60's Model 330/360 Rics that had the toaster PUs mounted on the outside of the body using those same rubber spacers/grommets...no foam pads, which probably wouldn't have lasted for very long anyway back then.   I once had an original '65 Model 450 in Fireglo that used those rubber spacers/grommets to mount the original toaster PUs onto the pickguard, located on the underneath side of the pickguard; and Fender still uses latex surgical tubing, cut into very short lengths, for mounting some pickups on some of their models, at least where the PUs are mounted onto a pickguard, rather than springs.  That's how the neck pickup was mounted under the pickguard on the 2014 USA LE Sandblasted Ash Tele I bought recently.

Edited to add: Here's a bit more info about Rics and rubber grommets, including some input from John Hall:

http://www.rickresource.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=37823

Edited by crunchee

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Well, whaddaya know? Learn something new every day...

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3 hours ago, crunchee said:

IIRC, that's how Rickenbacker used to mount many of their pickups onto their guitars, back in the '60's.  I've seen original '60's Model 330/360 Rics that had the toaster PUs mounted on the outside of the body using those same rubber spacers/grommets...no foam pads, which probably wouldn't have lasted for very long anyway back then.   I once had an original '65 Model 450 in Fireglo that used those rubber spacers/grommets to mount the original toaster PUs onto the pickguard, located on the underneath side of the pickguard; and Fender still uses latex surgical tubing, cut into very short lengths, for mounting some pickups on some of their models, at least where the PUs are mounted onto a pickguard, rather than springs.  That's how the neck pickup was mounted under the pickguard on the 2014 USA LE Sandblasted Ash Tele I bought recently.

Edited to add: Here's a bit more info about Rics and rubber grommets, including some input from John Hall:

http://www.rickresource.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=37823

I remember the grommets on the neck pickup of my '78 4001.  They were sandwiched in between the pickup flange and underside of the pickguard.  My 360 has them as spacers under its upper pickguard.  They're everywhere! 

Kind of endearing how little they've changed over the years.  At least they ditched the hairpin truss rods... instruments with those are always, errm... fun(?) to setup :)


tGlRVYF.jpg\

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On 8/12/2019 at 10:40 PM, cmatthes said:

Atlanta Vintage?  I bought a badassed Mapleglo 360/OS there that I wish I’d kept...

That sounds familiar.  I looked for a business card but couldn't find one.  Thinking back about it, I think I went to two shops that were in converted houses while I was there.  I think the owner of the one I was thinking of that was so small also had a tax preparation business that he operated out of a side room just during tax season each year.  He had one guitar in a glass case that belonged to one of the guys in the Wombles.

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10 hours ago, chromium said:

Kind of endearing how little they've changed over the years.  At least they ditched the hairpin truss rods... instruments with those are always, errm... fun(?) to setup :)

With my 4001, I never touched the truss rod. One of the few wise decisions from that age, but I had heard enough stories that I decided to just live with whatever action it had.

Odd thing is that from that bass, and from what I've seen my new 620, Ricks are built like brick houses. Yes they are odd, but already I have found the 620 stays in tune great, and the feel of it is so sturdy. I did zero maintenance on that 4001 and it never needed a thing.

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2 hours ago, polara said:

With my 4001, I never touched the truss rod. One of the few wise decisions from that age, but I had heard enough stories that I decided to just live with whatever action it had.

Odd thing is that from that bass, and from what I've seen my new 620, Ricks are built like brick houses. Yes they are odd, but already I have found the 620 stays in tune great, and the feel of it is so sturdy. I did zero maintenance on that 4001 and it never needed a thing.

Necks on my 4001s have been ultra stable as well. Most of the problems with those basses (if any) stem from owners torqing on the truss rod nuts thinking they adjust like typical rods - sometimes causing the hairpin rods to rotate in their channels, or worse pop the fingerboard off by the nut.  With those hairpins, you have to pull the rods, bend them into arcs, manually muscle the neck into the relief you like, reinsert rods and just snug the nuts up to hold 'em in place.

They work well as designed, but adjustment requires either contortionist acts by yourself :), a friend to lend extra hands, or a jig (I use tie down straps on the bench to anchor the base of the body, and another to pull the neck into position).

That mapleglo bass had a rod that was slighty skewed in its channel and would rattle when the bass hit that magical resonant frequency.  Aside front that, it maintained the same fast, low action for 25+ years across two States with vastly different climates.  Pretty cool!

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On 8/13/2019 at 9:46 PM, chromium said:

Kind of endearing how little they've changed over the years.  At least they ditched the hairpin truss rods... instruments with those are always, errm... fun(?) to setup :)


tGlRVYF.jpg

Yeep! That looks like a total PIT anoos. The longer I own my Rics the more I realize how little I know about the brand. 

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On 8/12/2019 at 5:24 PM, chromium said:

s had one or a few bumping around here for the past few decades. Bought the 78 mapleglo (now gone) when I was 16 for a whopping $250 with OHSC.

 

Did I sell that to you? No, but seriously I had a blue one that I sold in the late 80s for 200 bucks. That was so dumb. I have wanted another one for years. But ad a zero to what I sold it for, to get a new one. 

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