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John Turner on Bass
Doubleneck Rickenbacker 4080

1975 Rickenbacker 4080 in Fireglow - she's a beaut


I didn't know that Rickenbacker still made doublenecks

I don't think that they do.  Mine is from 1975, (Serial# OK7557),  a 4080, with a bass on top and a 6-string guitar on the bottom.  There's an interesting story behind this instrument.  Rickenbacker started making a limited production run of doublenecks in 1975 - before that they were special order only - with three models - one just guitar (12-string /6-string) and two with guitar and bass - the 4080-12 (4-string on top, 12-string on bottom) and the 4080.  

The very first one of this run that they made was a black 4080-12 that ended up with Geddy Lee [of Rush], and mine is probably the second or third that they made.  The total run was supposedly much less than a hundred of all three models in the fifteen or so years that they made them.  I feel pretty lucky to have been able to find mine, especially since it looks like it hadn't been played hardly at all.  The fireglow finish on the instrument is one of the best I have ever seen, and aside from questionably-executed minor modifications, the thing was in tip-top shape.

What mods were done to it?

Some guy decided to take out the single 3-way neck selector switch and replace it with a pair of 2-way switches - on/off for each neck.  That in itself is not a bad idea, I probably would have done the same - this way you can turn both necks off easily when on stage.  The bad part is he used these huge 40-amp switches for replacements.  These things are like the power switches on industrial machinery.  They were altogether too big to fit in the cavity, so the guy gored this beatiful instrument with what looks like a drill and a flat head screwdriver, used like a chisel, and the pick-guard still wouldn't even rest completely flush with the body.  I replaced the big switches with two smaller ones, and re-soldered the wiring in the whole instrument - i guess the guy thought that duct tape was a viable replacement for solder at the time - and now it sounds really great.  You can't see the difference with the pick-guard on the instrument now - it looks as good as new.

I have just recently heard from the guy who did the original mods. Here's his story : "Your write up has some misinformation, and an explanation could at least set the record straight. Where to start.. before the incident I guess. I was playing bass and rhythm guitar in an 80's pop rock group. The double neck was used in the obvious fashion of switching between guitar and bass. We had keyboard player who also played bass. I purchased the Ric for $500 (borrowed from the keyboard player, who now teaches music at an ACC University) The modification was initiated because contrary to your speculation the switch was not a 3 way (or it was broken). It was only a two way switch that was; "bass on" or "guitar on". Proper switches were ordered to make the the modification. However, on a Sunday afternoon before a playing opportunity and just prior to the switches being delivered the modification started. Not that it makes any difference, but a router and wood chisel were the instruments of destruction, not a drill and screw driver. The switches were the smallest ones available at a mall Radio Shack on this particular Sunday afternoon. The idea was to make the temporary mod (thus the reason there was no soldering) and replace them when the proper switches arrived. The bass was 'cased' and not used after the switches were delivered. We started using more and more synths and sequencing. Instead of switching from guitar&bass a sequencer would simply carry the bass line.  After a couple months I decided to get rid of the 4080. I took it to Atlanta Discount Music on Clairmont in Atlanta. It was traded for recording gear (mixer and stereo reel to reel for mixdowns IIRC). The proper switches were in the case when traded. I was assured that their tech at ADM would correct the temporary, bone headed, mod prior to putting the instrument up for sale. Obviously, it never happened. In retrospect; a proper three-way switch should have been the modification made, but at the time, having a both off position made some sort of demented sense."

Heh. This was really cool to hear from him - I was glad to get the straight story, and it's always cool to learn some of the history of a loved instrument before it enters one's life. He even sent me a picture of the instrument with all his other gear. Thanks dude! :-) /tips hat

What songs do you use it on?

I don't use it at all anymore. I used to use it on "Devil's Advocate" live, before I got my doubleneck bass, but then I would have to change to fretless really quickly for "Predator [of Dreams]", which I don't do now, I just play the guitar part on either the fretted 7-string neck of the doubleneck bass or on a classical [guitar] mounted on a stand. I really don't like playing 4-string bass anymore - feels so limiting to me now.

John Turner on Bass
Doubleneck Rickenbacker 4080

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