4004/5 5-STRING BASS RESTORATION
This instrument, one of less than a dozen 4004 5-string basses ever sold by Rickenbacker International Corporation, seems to have been doomed from the start. The original instruments were plagued by poor sensitivity of its original pickups to the "G" and "B" strings, leading to a sonic imbalance that killed demand once word got out. Rickenbacker implied that a solution was in the works, but somehow things got forgotten until just recently, when at NAMM 2018 the Company debuted a line of new 5-string basses with newly-developed pickups.
Getting back to this saga, all sorts of efforts were made by owners and repairmen to solve this bass' sonic issues. additionally, there were issues of playing comfort that could not be remedied without a complete reconstruction, as the neck was deemed too wide and flat by some players.
When the 4004/5's newest owner bought this Transparent Green example (possibly a one-of-a-kind; more probably one-of-two) and had it shipped to Studio California, it had been modified with a pair of non-standard pickups. An active harness had been cobbled in, and a pocket for the 9-volt battery box was hogged out of the body using what appeared to be a Dremel rotary tool with a sanding drum.
It was decided to restore this very rare instrument to its original condition, and deal with the pickup issue at a later date. The body was stripped of its finish, and the wing containing the battery box recess was cut off. A new wing made from similarly-flamed Maple with an American Walnut stripe around the perimeter, was grafted on, and the correct recesses for pickups and control cavity were cut with a router using custom-made templates. The fretboard was removed and a carbon fiber spline was laminated between the neck and fretboard, and a new fretboard made, radiused, and fretted. New dot markers were installed. A new wiring harness was sourced from Dane Wilder in Kansas, and the holes in the headstock from another aftermarket set of tuners were filled. There were two hogged-out truss rod access grooves in the body at the neck end; these were routed out and a removable Maple cover plate was fabricated to fit flush with the body surface. The entire instrument was re-shot in the correct shade of Transparent Deep Green, and the bass received six coats of Studio California's premium catalyzed clear coat, followed by hand-wet-sanding and buffing to a high gloss.