Rickenbacker Bass from Reverb.com Looks Great But Doesn’t Play Fair

Craig found this incredible Ric bass on Reverb, and thought he could flip it. When he unboxed it, he discovered several electrical problems that needed to be fixed to protect HIS reputation as a seller. Could The Unbrokenstring track down the electrical issues?

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Can anyone tell me what the model number is?

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I never get to see the tuners up close on cool instruments like this.

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The bound and sealed fret board is just outstanding on this instrument.

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Rickenbacker calls the neck pickup “Bass” and the bridge pickup “Treble.”

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This model comes with a built-in thumb rest. Not.

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The bridge and saddles are just massive.

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Each pickup is wired to separate outputs e.g. The Rick-O-Sound system. We will fix the issue of the jacks extending past the nuts like this. Anyone who has played out knows that the extended jacks makes it much more difficult to plug the cable from the amp into the instrument when you go on-stage. And it’s dark. And you are nervous. And the jacks are on the other side of the instrument where you can’t see them. This is a pet peeve of mine.

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One pickup is completely dead, and one of these controls will not rotate at all, and these controls are all out of order. What’s up with that?

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The pots have been changed from the original 330k units, but these are the Correct tone caps.

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The pick guard and bass pickup are from your favorite parts vendor, located right here in Houston, Texas.

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Inside the control cavity, we see some signs of human presence. The 4001 is the model number. The rest of it…?

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Well, this explains a lot. The wires are literally tied in a knot, and shrink-tubed together.

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Here is more Boy Scout knot-tying merit badge material.

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The connection to the switch is wrapped, not soldered, and it also appears to be glued with a clear adhesive.

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I detached one end of each of the tone caps to check them for value and leakage at stated working voltage. These are in perfect shape.

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Here is more of that clear glue. It’s not Super Glue, but some sort of crystal clear hard plastic adhesive, I guess.

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Here is more glue. Now, it just hit me. The reason that the pot doesn’t turn is that some of the glue leaked inside the control and locked it in place. Oh boy.

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Here is another connection made with glue. If it were silver rather than clear, I’d say that someone used Liquid Solder. Which has actually happened, but that’s a long story involving a Heathkit home stereo from the 1970s that is best saved for another day.

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The output jacks are mercifully unmolested. These were cleaned and checked OK.

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The blue material is the automotive heat shrink tubing that can be shrunk with a cigarette lighter. The presence of soot on the blue tubing confirms this.

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Our Boy Scout was here too, wiring up the bass pickup to the rest of the electronics.

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The treble pickup (next to the bridge) had a broken wire. The small wires were broken from the stress from moving the larger wires.

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While we’re here, let’s see what happened to the bridge ground. No, I’m not taking the strings off, just leaving them slack. Nobody changes bass strings.

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This takes the cake. Duct tape. Or is it Duck Tape?

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A dab of non-conductive hot glue secured the ground wire and the duct tape removed. We’re about done with our exploratory surgery, so the bridge can be reinstalled.

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500k pots are ‘pretty close’ to the original 330k pots, which are only available on the used market for Big Money. All the wiring is soldered correctly. The location of the controls is marked as shown. You can see, from the earlier picture, that this layout is different.

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A marker was used to clearly identify which jack goes with which pickup. The output jacks are ready to be installed. The blue heat shrink in the foreground is some of mine, properly shrank with hot air, not a cigarette lighter.

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Note that the output jacks are flush with the nuts. This makes it a lot easier to plug in when you walk on stage.

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The wiring is done and the bass is set up. It’s actually a lot of fun to play!

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Here is the correct knob layout, in case you don’t download the Users Manual.

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Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!

CONTACT – David Latchaw EE
281-636-8626

Rickenbacker Rick-O-Sound Bass Repair

Craig is a Ric Man.  This beautiful blue bass in only one of his many Rics.  This one has problems with getting both pickups to work.  Could the Unbrokenstring Crew get all this sorted out?

This instrument plays beautifully and has no real discernable setup issues.  However, the wiring seems to be amiss!

 

More than a few of you will have heart palpitations seeing this head stock.

 

Two output jacks allow a mono mix of both pickups as is usually found with most multi-pickup instruments, plus a special “Ric-O-Sound” jack that presents the signals from two pickups as two separated signals, accessible with a stereo cable (TRS.)  This gives the player the ability to run two preamps, two effect loops, two separate amps, etc.

 

Immediately after looking under the pick guard, we find a loose wire.  Poor soldering here.

 

This isn’t even tinned.

 

Here is another broken wire, another ground wire.

 

We have a stack of three inside-tooth lock-washers under each output connector.  Not much spring action available from the teeth of these locking washers, so they don’t really lock.

 

A magnet is the quickest way to clear all this extra hardware out of the control route.

 

This is the stereo jack handling the “Ric-O-Sound” duties.

 

The mono jack handles the single-ended output from this instrument.

 

Soldering workmanship on the switch needs some attention as well.

 

Disconnecting each pickup allows us to do some cleanup in the wiring cavity.  The neck pickup is ohmed-out.  The neck pickup is sometimes called the ‘treble’ pickup.

 

And we do the same with the bridge pickup.  This pickup is also called the ‘bass’ pickup, which seems redundant.

 

Perhaps this soldering was done with plumber’s solder.  It is awfully dull.

 

Another look at the switch.  Not much to brag about here.

 

The ground connection to the control is redone.  Smooth and shiny is the name of the game when soldering.

 

I labelled the controls BV (Bass Volume,) TV (Treble Volume,) BT (Bass Tone,) and TT (Treble Tone.)

 

Now that the controls are identified, we can install the knobs in the Correct location.  Yes, they were in the wrong place.

 

Earlier I pointed out the stack of three inside-tooth lock washers.  Here’s why I mentioned it:

 

When stacked, the teeth have nothing to push against.  The teeth are literally hanging out in space.

 

A flat washer in the middle will provide some ‘resistance’ for all the teeth to press against, thus restoring the action of the lock washers to that of being, er, well, lock washers.

 

The jacks are Imperial measurement and this washer must have been metric.  A little gun-smithing is in order.

 

The output jacks are wired and tightened into their correct locations.

 

Testing shows no output.  It has something to do with this volume pot.  What the hey??

 

This is the hey.  This bit of conductive solder debris was underneath the volume pot, shorting the ‘stapled’ contacts seen in the previous picture to each other, and thus, shorting the output to ground.

 

Together again, and it’s playing in stereo!

Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

CONTACT – David Latchaw EE
281-636-8626