Sick Rick

My beloved Rickenbacker 4001 is in hospital at the moment, undergoing neck-joint reconstruction surgery. While we’re all anxiously awaiting the news, here’s a little tribute to the bass guitar gracing the next Tunisia album..

I refinished it in these familiar Chris Squire colours a few years ago. But it started out as a fairly standard fireglo red model:

I picked it up from a pawn shop in Coolongatta, QLD. Bewlideringly, it had already been fitted with a Kahler tremelo bridge (not pictured), which had required extra routing (some time in the 80s I bet). Well that was the first thing to go. The pros put in a new chunk of maple and fitted a replacement bridge. The pickguard was cracked so they fashioned a new one. The knobs were replaced but the original electronics were kept. The neck also needed a partial refret – the bottom 6 frets were pretty shot.

Not bad, but Starship Trooper just didn’t sound right played in fireglo red.

So then I started to do something almost unforgiveable. Sanding back a perfectly classic fireglo red finish! It hurt. But it’s my guitar so I do what I want. The headstock was sanded right back for staining.

The back. I didn’t do a whole lot here, except smooth out some dings on the back of the neck.

Primer coat. This was standard automotive aerosol acrylic white primer. At this stage most of the headstock already had mahogany stain applied, and the headstock edges (along with the fretboard) were safely protected with masking tape.

New colour applied! Standard automotive aerosol acrylic lacquer. Pretty sure the colour is called “Bahama Beige”. At this point, it was time for the clear coats (bog standard automotive aerosol acrylic). The masking tape on the headstock was removed to expose the stain, which was also covered in clear. Scroll back to the top to see the finished product again..

Over the last few years the bass has been fitted with replacement Hipshot tuners, and a new pickup switch. But the action had started to disturb me lately (too high!). So a couple of weeks ago I got hold of an aftermarket Hipshot bridge, with intonation and height controls for each saddle, which I thought would do the trick nicely.

The fact that this new bridge actually made the action even higher told me something was very wrong here!

I know I speak for all of us in wishing the bass a speedy and safe recovery.

Posted in Gear.


  1. Does the tone sound more “prog” with the new finish? I reckon the fireglo and trem would sound way too Primus-like…

    [Fireglo sounded even a bit “Arnold Layne”-ish to me. Great sound. But the vintage white has definitely help push it into “Starship Trooper” sonic territory. – Ben]

  2. I do not understand how people can read this and not think “genius alert”. Great post. I’ll keep coming back to see even more.

    [Ben: Wow, thanks very much, Reverse Cell Phone Search!]

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