1965 Sunburst Gibson EB3 bass guitar
This unusual EB3 is owned by Jim Corio of New Jersey, USA, who sent these pictures to GibsonBass.com in January 2006. Jim explains I picked this bass up at a local flea market about 3 years ago. The headstock was broken and I had it professionally repaired. It also came with the original hardshell case. As can be seen it is a truly gorgeous bass, however on closer inspection it has some very unusual 'features' (see below)
EB3 Photographs coutesey of Jim Corio.
Details of this bass
- Serial number 114865. This dates it to 1962 by Ian Bishops book Gibson Guitar from 1950 or 1963 by the Blue Book Gibson serialization on the Gibson website. [Both of these sources of information contain errors, see the GibsonBass.com serial number page]
- Finish. The sunburst finish is heavily checked, with little if any fading under the scratchplate
- Pot codes. Non are visible; the earliest Gibson basses had pot codes on the side of the pots. Jim was unwilling to dismantle any pots to check this
- The bridge pickup has a sticker with Pat. No. 2737842 on the reverse
- The electrical circuits look correct. Compare them to another (in this case 1961) EB3.
- The pot spacing is 'wrong'. The two top pots are too near the bottom pots.
- The control cavity is the 'wrong' shape.
- The pickup wires both come from the same hole within the cavity
Look at the 3 images above. A 1961 EB3, the custom sunburst 1963 'EB3' and a 1964 EB0. The stock EB0 and EB3 routes are typical of the period 1961-1964 solid-body EB basses. Notice the difference in spacing between the input jacks and the pots. The EB0 input is further away. As can be seen the smaller EB0 profile fits this bass completely (blue outline), as does the larger EB3 profile (green outline). This custom bass would appear to be a sum of the two routes. Furthermore look at the sizes of the 'wavy walls'; the custom sunburst again seems to be a sum of the two routes. (enlarge the image to see this)
The sunburst finish extends into the control cavity, so the wood was clearly routed before finishing. 'EB3s' with incorrectly spaced pots are usually considered to be converted EB0s. However why would someone create a control cavity with the rounded 'pot' holes, and then NOT put the pots in them. The worksmanship seems to be very accurate for something as ridicululous as to put the pots in the wrong place.
Theories as to the nature of this bass....
- This is a Gibson custom order EB3; the customer requiring closer pot spacing as well as sunburst finish. Perhaps the holes for pots in a standard EB3 are already drilled when creating the body, and in order to have different holes it is necessary to either start from scratch, or convert an EB0 blank? The pot spacing was reduced soon after this time anyway, so perhaps disatisfaction with the spacing was acknowledged.
- Someone sent their EB0 to Gibson for repair and/or upgrade to an EB3. A refinnish was also applied. Did Gibson do conversions?
- Something went wrong during manufacture, and this bass was 'rescued', perhaps by an employee, who may or may not have finished off the instrument.
- This is a refinnished EB0 conversion with unusual cavity. The standard shape cavity we know today was not introduced until around 1965, so we would certainly not expect any enlarged cavity to be that shape. The parts used all seem to be original EB3 parts. Whoever did it paid great attention to the routing, but this is still a modded EB0.
There are probably many more possibilites with varying probability... I don't know the answer to this question, and part of the reason for going into such detail here is to try and get an answer. I do feel Gibson probably carried out the work; I can't see any reason for someone to got to such lengths to route something so accurately, knowing full well the end result would not bear any resembelance to a stock instrument.
Did you work for Gibson in 1963? Do you know whether the potentiometer holes are drilled whilst creating the control cavity route? Do you remember this actual instrument? Or perhaps you once owned this bass and ordered it like this. Did you convert it yourself? Have you seen another Gibson with the same shaped control cavity? If you can help, or even throw any more light (or mud!) onto the matter, please do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org