Oh baby. It took more or less a month for everything to clear through paypal and shipping once the money left my account, but yesterday my new Ric 4003 arrived. Well, not so new; it's one of the first production runs, from 1984. Jetglo. Working on photos just to prove it exists (I know how you roll, Gus). This is my 25th birthday present to myself, as nobody else was willing to buy one for me! I thought about the 'proper' Ric holy grail 4001, but I know there was issues with depth of tone in the bridge pickup, and that single truss rod system couldn't really hack it with roundwound strings. So I figured an early production 4003 was the way to go (beefed p'ups and second truss rod sounded good to me)
But seriously. what a beast of an instrument! Even acoustically, it's got that classic punchy growl sound. And it's a good thing I tend to hit the strings a bit like an angry gorilla when I get into it, as that growl/woodiness/whatever-you-call-it really shines through when it's plugged in and played like that. Not nearly as much when I back off my playing. It's got super sustain, and it's versatile as hell. Even the bridge pickup has good depth to it, but that may be helped in part by the amp I use, which is an ancient Ampeg 1x18; everything sounds fat with that speaker! With distortion it's super gnarly. Now all the Yes and Rush bass lines actually sound proper. I'll love my P-bass until the day I die, but it just can't do all the prog I want it to.
And I guess this is the final nail in the coffin for the way I represent myself. I think I'm officially a 'bass player' now, considering how much money (gah!!) and consideration has gone to outfit my rig. As it stands, I'm using the Ric or P-bass into a few pedals (tuner > Boss OC-3 > EHX Nano Bassballs > Zakk Wylde OD) and then into that old Ampeg B-18. I've always hesitated to identify with bass first because I played guitar for probably close to 8 years before I even bought my first bass and have always considered it my first musical love. But the truth is I feel my most confident/rock star-ish when I'm rockin' the bass on stage these days. I know I'm a decent guitar player, but I feel like there are more people (at least in my immediate Toronto music scene) who are great guitar players, and way less so for bassists. So I guess I feel better about my own playing as a result. Granted, I'm lead guitar in one band, but the one I really care about is my reggae band, and in truth I love playing reggae bass.
I can't stand gear snobbish people who say that you've gotta spend the top dollar in order to have passable gear (gearslutz/TGP??). However, the far less douchey perspective they're coming from is that sometimes waiting and shelling out some serious dough will get you a serious winner, rather than buying the best you can afford right at that moment. And in this case, considering how much a new Ric costs (and let's not even consider how hard it is to find one w/o a 3 yr wait time), and how much a bunch of the old ones cost, this one was priced pretty fair and I ain't gonna regret having no extra spending cash for the next month or so at all!