Rickenbacker’s iconic 4001 bass guitar was launched in 1961. It was an updated version of the 4000 bass, and had two pickups.
It is famous for its well-known offset body and headstock shape which somewhat resembles a cresting wave when turned sideways. It is probably one of the world’s best known and most famous basses.
The 4001’s construction is unusual for a bass, because it utilises through-neck construction, whereby the neck travels all the way through the body and has the sides that make up the shape glued to the sides of the neck. Rickenbacker basses have a distinctive tone. The sustain at the bottom end is particularly striking, and by routing the two outputs from the stereo “rick-o-sound” output, the lower, brighter pick up through a guitar rig and the bassier upper pick up through a bass setup, the classic Rickenbacker bass sound is produced.
The 3000 series made from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s were cheaper instruments with bolt-on 21 fret necks. Like some other 1950s-60s basses, the 4001 was originally supplied with pickup covers, although only at the bridge pickup on the 4001. The Rickenbacker units were split at the top before the 1970s, when they were changed to a design similar to that of the Fender Precision Bass covers.
Paul McCartney received the very first 4001S (his was left-handed, and later modified to include a zero fret). He played this bass extensively through his years with Wings. Famous users of Rickenbacker basses include Chris Squire (Yes), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), Geddy Lee (Rush) and Lemmy (Motorhead)