We’ve just finished our 4th set of R4000 Style bass pickups for several early adopter bass players. WOW! What a difference these new pickups have made in each RICTM bass…. totally quiet…preservation of the RICTM vibe…. and an expanded tonal palette that adds versatility and function to this classic bass.
Many thanks to all the early adopters, but especially to Evan Mellichampe who first started this ball rolling with JBE. Evan told us that many bassists have a classic RICTM in their arsenals but cannot take them out to play due to its excessive noise. Despite the classic great RICTM tone which is cherished by all, the bass is often only used on select tunes that demand that tone, making it somewhat limited for most players who need to cover a diversity of material and not want to be saddled with taking several basses on gigs. But, noise still remained the major issue.
We agreed to try to develop a pickup for Evan’s RICTM 4003 but told him that to do it right we needed a bass to work with for R&D. He offered to send his bass admitting that it mostly sat idle due to the noise problem. Wow, what faith! Yet, Evan will tell anyone it was a risk very much worth taking because when he got his bass back it was immediately more playable, totally quiet and could now be used on gigs and recording sessions. [On a quick side note, Evan told me that he had an initial sense of despair and frustration after he plugged a chord into the bass while leaving it perched on a guitar stand, and then turned on the amp. NOTHING! Damn! He thought his bass arrived back to him DOA, until his wedding ring touched the strings. WHOA! The bass came alive! IT WAS ON ! It was that quiet!]
So far so good, first objective for quiet noise free operation was met. But what about TONE? Again mission accomplished. The new R4000 Style pickups not only preserved what RICTM players love about basses. The new pickups also created a broader tonal palate, making it more versatile and functional for live gigs as well as recording.
After installing the pickups we noted that the sensitivity and tactile benefits of the R4000 Style pickups require that the bass be setup properly for optimum results. Setting-up a RICTM bass, and especially adjusting the double truss rod neck, are no small feat. It takes experience to do it right. For that we turned to Larry Smoak of Wooden Wizard Guitars, a member of the JBE Technical Alliance Group. After Evan got his guitar back with the new pickups and properly set up, he immediately noticed a huge difference between the instrument he first sent to us and the transformed one he received back.
Of course as a manufacturer we wanted to know if there was sufficient interest and demand for us to invest time and money to bring this new pickup to market. Sadly, our dealers could not confirm any real interest among their customers for RICTM bass pickup replacements. So, we left the project sit for a while thinking it was a fun and we learned a bit about what JBE could add to an already classic bass.
Evan was not satisfied with our lethargy. He was so jazzed about the results that he took it upon himself to see if there was interest among RICTM players and start a buzz about these new pickups. Unsolicited by JBE, Evan submitted pictures and a small review of his new rig to Bass Player Magazine’s “Dig My Rig” section. This small piece immediately brought RICTM players out of the woodwork to ask us when they could buy a set. We started taking orders. Like Evan, several players even sent us their basses, which allowed us to verify our experience and even fine-tune our build methods. We installed the pickups, set up the basses (and returned them. The accolades from early adopters keep coming.
We are still in the pre-production phase and are now accepting orders on a first come /first served basis. Order backlog is building and right now the lead time is about 4 weeks. All as a result of the first small posting by Evan as well as our own social media networking.
We will post some pics to our website soon. But, for those interested now, call or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thanks to Evan and to the early adopters who put their faith in us to produce something really special. Now, let’s hear from you RICTM bass players out there.
Regards to all,
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Rickenbacker® and Joe Barden Engineering or JBE Pickups are not affiliated.