Rickenbacker® Model 4001S "PMC" (4001V63)

Rickenbacker Model 4001S "PMC" (4001V63)  Rickenbacker Model 4001S "PMC" (4001V63)

Model 4001S "PMC" (4001V63)

Made for the Japanese market, this model only comes in a lefty. Fireglo finish and reproduced to the exact specs of Paul McCartney's 1964 4001S.

 

Courtesy of Dan Ealey


 

Paul McCartney´s Rickenbacker 4001S


Paul received his Rickenbacker 4001S during the Hollywood Bowl concert in August 1964. The bass had been shown to him in February of the same year, but Paul was not particularly interested. The fact that noone at RIC had noticed that Paul was Left-handed may explain his previous lack of enthusiasm. The Rickenbacker bass was also heavier than his light-weight Hofner which may have added to his reluctance to accept the bass earlier..
In Bass Player magazine, a couple of years back, Paul explained that he was presented with the bass in February 1964, but didn't accept the offer until it was presented to him for free. Apparently RIC had asked for a small fee during this initial meeting with. He said in the article that the only reason he took the bass was because he was always on the look out for 'freebies'.
In another interview from May 1980 he said:
".... - Back in the midsixties Mr Rickenbacker (!) gave me a special left-handed bass. It was the first left-handed bass I´d ever had, ´cause the Hofner was a converted right-hand. It was a freebie and I loved it; I started getting into it on "Sgt Pepper". And now I´m playing Yamaha, because they gave me one - I´m anybody´s for a free guitar....."

I have sent a number of letters to MPL Communications (and Paul) to try to get some answers about the 4001S LH and the very many changes it´s gone through during the years. This is the latest answer:

Dear Bjorn:

I've repeatedly forwarded your letters to my London office for a
response. To date if you haven't received any, I'm afraid it's due to
the enormous amount of letters and requests Paul receives on a daily
basis (thousands). It's possible that the information you are
requesting could be difficult to research at this time due to 2 album
releases (back to back) and Paul's work/personal schedule.

I believe from discussing your request with seasoned office staff
members here that Paul may shy away from answering these types of
questions or supplying photos of any kind as they may be seen as an
endorsement of the guitar brand itself. That's just one way that I see
as why you haven't received any information at this time. The best I
can do is try again and get some kind of difinitive response even if
it's a quiet, sorry but no kind of answer.

J. Mlecz
MPL Inc.

As you can see I have yet to receive information from Paul regarding his 4001S. I will tell you, however, what I have managed to learn to date.

Let's start from the beginning:

According to the people at Rickenbacker the S/N of Paul's 4001S starts with a DA indicating that it was built in January of 1964, or at least started by then. Paul's 4001S is only one of two lefties made in 1964. Seeing as his was made or started in Jan. '64 it is most likely that his was the first one made that year.
The bass was a very dark Fireglo (almost Autumnglo) model 4001S LH that was given to Paul in August 1964, probably during the Hollywood Bowl concerts. It looked very much like the one pictured below, except that the nut was black at first, and later replaced with a white one. The model 4001V63 PMC is a reissue model of Paul´s bass.

There are no pictures (at least that I know of) of Paul with the 4001S until 1965 when work on Rubber Soul began. George Harrison has said that Paul played his 4001S on the song 'Think For Yourself', but other than that, there's no documentation of his Ric being used on the album.
AT the end of 1965 and the beginning of 1966, the 4001S was used as a back up bass at live performances. (I have a photo of Paul with it backstage during the Beatles Japanese tour in spring/summer 1966. I hope to find the owner of this photo to obtain the permission for posting it here.)
Paul continued to use his Ric as a backup bass for the last Beatles tour in '66.

The first time a real presence of the Ric bass is felt is during the recording of "Paperback Writer" and Rain, the first two songs recorded for their upcoming album "Revolver". According the book "Revolution in the Head", he played the bass through a compressor for the two songs.

He picked up the bass again in November of '66 and used it on the recordings of 'Penny Lane' and 'Strawberry Fields'. There is a picture of him using the bass during these sessions in the book "The Summer Of Love: 1967". He continued to use the bass through the Sgt. Pepper recordings. In the TV special, "The making of Sgt. Pepper" he said that he would usually play the bass last as an overdub so that he could think of a good bass line, or at least more complex ones than he had initially used.

At this point changes in the appearance of his Rickenbacker bass become evident. It was either in "Bass Player" or some other interview with Tony Bacon when Paul mentioned why he painted up his Ric. It seems that there was a get together for the four Beatles to celebrate the completion of The Sgt. Pepper album and they brought their instruments. Paul said that they would see performers at the "Bag O'Nails" Club in London who had painted up their guitars to fit the psychedelic era and wanted to do the same. George brought his Fender Strat, John his Gibson J-160, Paul his Rickenbacker 4001S and Ringo brought his bass drum. Now I'm quoting Paul:
" - We got together at George's place, had some beers, smoked a couple of joints, then came out the aerosols and that's it". That's how his bass got the way it did.

For the next while he used his Ric bass incessantly in videos and in the studio, until the end of 1968. Earlier in '68, Fender gave the Beatles a some FREE equipment but not as much as the rumours say. I´d like to refer to a long and extensive article by Phillip Kabuki who actually made the Rosewood telecaster. It is one of two RW strats and teles made in the fall of '68. George got one tele and Jimi Hendrix got a strat and tele. Fender still has the other tele. George's tele was flown on a BBC coach seat and delivered to the EMI studios in December 1968. In the summer of '68, Don Randall gave the Beatles one silverface Deluxe, a silverface Twin, and a suitcase model Rhodes piano. There were no guitars given away. Mal Evins purchased two Sonic Blue strats in Sheffield for John and George during the Help! sessions. Epstein agreed to pay as long as the guitars were identical. Paul bought an Esquire (tele with no neck pickup) during the Revolver sessions. He also purchased a RH Fender Jazz bass and Fender piggyback Bassman in '66. The amp saw service on some of the Pepper cuts and was used as late as the recording of Abbey Road. The Jazz bass was used on many of the White Album cuts. George favored this bass - restrung for to normal on the Abbey Road cuts where he played bass. Paul also used this bass in Nigeria when he recorded Band on the Run. George purchased a white tolex piggyback bandmaster during the Rubber Soul sessions which was used on various recordings through 1968. The only other Fender was the Bass VI purchased in London in '68 for George and John to use while Paul played keyboards. Eric Clapton suggested it, as Jack Bruce used to play one. Feeling that the summer of love was far over and the pschedelic movement moving on, John decided to have the his paint job stripped from the top of his J-160. He liked it so much that he did the same to his Epiphone Casino. Paul following John's lead did the same to his Ric bass. That's why we don't see his bass in the "Revolution" video because he doesn't have it. If you've ever seen photos from behind the scenes at the 'Revolution' video shoot you can see his Fender Jazz Bass is present along with his old Hofner Cavern bass.

The Rickenbacker 4001S bass doesn't show up again until the Beatles move into there new studio at Apple Corp. It can be seen in the background of the 'Two Of Us' video looking exactly as it did when he got it but in mapleglo now. There seems to be no photographic or video evidence of Paul using this bass during the "Let It Be" sessions.

I can´t say for sure if he used this bass during the recording of "Abbey Road". All the pictures I have and have seen of Paul during that time show him with his Casino, Fender Jazz, Martin D-28, or playing the piano so it's a mystery as to whether or not he used his 4001S on the album.
In late '68 (shortly after Paul got his Fender Jazz) before the filming of "Let It Be" Paul had decided that the Beatles had outgrown the psychedelic phase and sent it back to the Ric factory to get the paint stripped off and the handrest removed.

His Rick bass pretty much stayed the same until he started to work on the "Red Rose Speedway" album. One, but clearly visible, change was that Paul had the horns on his bass shaved down somewhere between 1970 and the release of the RRS album. He also got the bridge pick-up replaced and the metal surrounding changed to a more rectangular one. A Red Rose Speedway sticker was also put on the bass at this point. See photo below.

Paul McCartney´s 4001S with the Red Rose Speedway sticker. ©1999 by Rickenbacker Int'l Corp. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Paul McCartney´s 4001S with the Red Rose Speedway sticker.
© 1999 by Rickenbacker Int'l Corp. All rights reserved. Used by permission.   Photo: John Hall

 

©1999 Björn Eriksson

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