Hipshot Replacement Bridge For Rickenbacker 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. The stock bridge/tailpiece on these instruments, prior to the year 2020, in particular leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, as you will see, there is an easy and effective modification available in the installation of a Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge.
Common Issues With Stock Rickenbacker Bass Bridges (pre 2020)
Quality bass bridges typically incorporate a “high-mass” design. The extra weight enhances the tone of the instrument, adding a fullness to the tone and increased sustain. The stock Ric bridge is very thin and lightly built.
Careful observers of the photo above will note that the original string through tailpiece (bottom left of photo) does not make contact with the body. The back of the bridge is floating in the air. Poor design and inferior quality metal cause it to bend under the weight of string tension over time. This robs the instrument of sustain and can cause poor string break angle at the bridge.
This apparatus may indeed be a “must have” for a select group of players, but the feature is not commonly used by the majority. For all but a select few, it only serves to get in the way of the right hand or to cause an irritating rattle.
The bridge portion of the combination bridge/tailpiece sits inside of a small recess, with only the height adjustment screws connecting it to the body. Not only does it create a poor coupling effect, and yet another potential source of metal-on-metal rattle, but it also has a poor range of height adjustment; We typically see these bridges adjusted to their lowest possible point while the bass still suffers from high action. This makes proper setup all but impossible.
With the bridge bottomed out the way we typically find them, the intonation screws aren’t accessible without removing the strings and taking the bridge off the body first! Needless to say, this feature makes setups a chore.
Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bass Bridges
Fortunately, Hipshot has designed a fantastic upgrade for these venerable instruments. Calico Guitarworks is proud to be an authorized Hipshot dealer. The Rickenbacker Replacement bridge is advertised as a drop in replacement and its design eliminates many of the concerns outlined above.
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 Bass Bridge Installation
Basic installation is fairly straight forward. However, Hipshot does not provide any instructions and this job is best left to a professional tech for optimal results. Checkout our repair price list for any questions on the cost of installation.
If you would prefer to install it yourself, here are some helpful hints: The first thing one might notice upon removing the stock bridge is that the hipshot only utilizes four screws, leaving an open hole in the body that was once occupied by the fifth mounting screw of the original. This unused hole can be filled if desired but it will be covered by the footprint of the new bridge.
Please also 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 require positioning the saddle over the screw head. Take care to avoid stripped and broken screws.
One might also notice a shallow cavity routed into the body underneath the bridge to accommodate the original design. While an argument can be made for filling in this cavity before installing the new bridge, it is not mandatory as the new bridge covers it and nothing is visible after installation.
Lastly, make sure that you properly reinstall the bridge’s string ground wire before screwing on the new bridge. Proper continuity is essential to prevent excessive noise from the electronics when plugged in.
The Hipshot Rickenbacker Replacement Bridge is perfect 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.
About Calico Guitarworks
Calico Guitarworks is the area’s premier destination for fretted musical instrument care and maintenance. Owned and managed by Erik Salomon, the shop is dedicated to providing quick, honest and reliable service. The staff at Calico Guitarworks has a combined 25+ years of professional guitar repair experience. Sharing the knowledge that we accumulate in this focused pursuit is at the core of what we do. Contact us with any questions or book your appointment today.