Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge Installation for Bass

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Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge Installation for Bass

Before and after photos of the original and replacement bridges on a Rickenbacker 4003 bass

The Rickenbacker bass is a staple of rock music. They have an instantly recognizable look, with a unique feel and tone. These instruments have found a place in the hands of icons, such as Geddy Lee of Rush, Motorhead’s Lemmy, and even Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles. However, there is always room for improvement. One easy and effective modification is the installation of a Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge.

In my opinion, the stock bridge/tailpiece on these instruments leaves a bit to be desired. For starters, I find that the thumb screw string mute feature is not commonly used by most rock players. Therefore it only serves to potentially get in the way or cause an audible rattle that will irritate the player. I also have never been impressed with how light it is, or how it tends to pull away from the body (see bottom left of photo). This problem has a tendency to get worse over time.

Most lacking in my mind is the design of the adjustments for the bridge itself. The bridge sits inside of a dish, with only a height adjustment screw on either side and nothing coupling it to the body. The intonation screws often aren’t accessible without removing the strings and taking the bridge off the body. Needless to say, this makes setups a chore.

Fortunately, I was recently turned on to a great product offered by Hipshot. Hipshot is known for making innovative, problem solving parts for guitars and basses, and I am happy to say that this product lives up to that legacy. The Rickenbacker Replacement bridge is advertised as a drop in replacement and its design eliminates many of the concerns that I outlined above.

Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge Specs:

Here are some specs from Hipshot: The bridge is available in both solid aluminum (for springy highs) or solid brass (for punch and sustain). These premium materials ensure that it will never warp or bend. It is outfitted with the “Hipshot A Style saddles” for independent side-to-side, height, and intonation adjustments (a huge improvement for both ease of setup as well as allowing more fine tuning control for tweaking adjustments). The groove-locking saddle design prevents saddles from slipping and buzzing. Lastly, it is available in chrome, black, and gold finishes and the bridge is ambidextrous so it fits left hand and right handed basses.

Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge Installation overview:

Basic installation is fairly straight forward. However, Hipshot does not provide any instructions and this job is probably best left to a professional tech for optimal results. Checkout our repair price list for any questions on the cost of installation.

First step is to remove the strings and the stock bridge by unscrewing the five screws that attach it to the body. The hipshot only utilizes four screws, and does not use the center screw hole. This can be filled if desired. Next we clipped the string ground wire, since it was soldered to the stock bridge, and set the stock bridge aside. We stripped back an inch or so of the plastic shield and placed it in position to allow the wire to make good contact with the new bridge when installed. This wire making good contact with the bridge is necessary in order to prevent excessive noise from the electronics when plugged in.

The body we encountered had a shallow cavity routed underneath the bridge in order to accommodate the original bridge design. One could certainly make an argument for filling in this cavity (inlay a piece of wood to fill the space) before installing the new bridge. It could increase bridge to body contact even further, yielding better sustain. However, this is not mandatory as the new bridge covers it and nothing is visible after reinstallation.

If choosing basic installation, simply screw on the new bridge and begin setup. Two things to note: First, you may have to remove the outside saddles of the replacement bridge in order to access the screw holes. Secondly, please note that the screws included with the bridge are flat on top while the original screws are rounded. Be sure to use the screws included with the replacement bridge to avoid any issues should correct intonation positioning require the saddle being positioned over the screw head.

Conclusion:

With a retail price of $175, The Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge seems like a no brainer for the Ric player that wants the most out of their instrument. Should you ever change your mind, basic installation is easily reversible to return to original spec. Please contact us if you are interested in upgrading your bass.

About Guitar Repair Long Island:

Guitar Repair Long Island is the area’s premier destination for fretted musical instrument care and maintenance. We fix all fretted instruments, including: guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles. Conveniently located in Ronkonkoma NY, the shop is dedicated to providing quick, honest, and reliable service. Our vast experience in all aspects of instrument repair ensures that we can help with whatever your needs are. Contact us or book your appointment today

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