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early sixties EB0 in cherryGIBSON EB0 BASS

The EB0 is a true design classic. From its launch in 1959 to its demise 20 years later, it remained gibsons most popular bass, making up almost a third of all solidbody bass sales

The Gibson EB-0 was announced in the May/June 1959 issue of Gibson Gazette
The EB-O was announced in the May/June issue of Gibson Gazette; under the title Thrilling new EB-0 electric bass

The EB-0 was first produced in early 1959, being shown at the Summer music trade fairs of that year priced at $180. It was announced to dealers in advance in the May/June issue of Gibson Gazette; Thrilling new EB-0 electric bass. The EB-0 basses produced from this time, and up until 1961, all had the doublecutaway Les Paul Junior body style. From summer 1961 the better known SG body style was used, and proved considerably more popular.

But the vast majority of EB-0 guitars were shipped in the 1960s - the peak year with 3018 is 1969 (see a typical '69 EBO here), when Cream style blues rock was at its height (Jack Bruce, the bass player with Cream is famous for his EB3 bass playing). Interestingly enough, few major artists seemed to have used the EB0; the EB3 had a greater tonal range, and money is not an issue for 'rock stars', but it was popular with the garage, blues, soul and church bands of the 1960s and 70s. Notable early users include David Knights of Procol Harum, Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson Five, Billy Kinsley of the Merseybeats, Dave Ambrose of the Brian Auger Trinity, and Dennis Dunaway of the Alice Cooper group. The price difference between the two was not massive; in 1970 the EB0 was $350 compared to $410 for the EB3.

Glenn Cornick of Jethro Tull/Wild Turkey it was a 1959 EB0 which I bought on our first tour in Chicago. Was never able to use it on stage because it was far too bassy but used it on Stand Up on Nothing is Easy. It had a wonderful neck and I loved it - Glenn Cornick, Jethro Tull
I bought my EBO new.. I loved the shape of it and, switching from an Airline, I liked the shorter scale neck. I played it through an Acoustic 360, which seemed to be the biggest bottom most road durable amp of it's day - Dennis Dunaway, Alice Cooper
Short scale strings suitable for the EB0 bass

D'Addario EXL160S XL Regular Short Bass String Set (D'Addario Bass Strings Nickel Wound Short Scale - Regular)

Fender 5250XL Short Scale Bass Extra Light Strings (Fender short scale Nickel Steel roundwounds)

D'Addario EXL220S Electric Bass Strings XL Nickel Super Light Short Scale (D'Addario EXL220S Nickel Super Light Short Scale)

Rotosound RS88S Trubass Standard Gauge Short Scale Strings (Rotosound - Bass Strings - RS88S - True Bass (Black Nylon))

Thomastik-Infeld JF324 Jazz Flatwound Short Scale 4-String Bass (Thomastik-Infeld JF324 Jazz Flatwound Short Scale)

Click on the thumbnail to get a closer look at each bass

1962 EBO (cherry) 1966 EBO (cherry) 1969 EBO (cherry)
1962 1966 1969
1970 EBO (cherry) 1972 EBO (walnut) 1972 EBOL (natural)
1970 1972 1972

The difference between the EBO and the EB3 was the extra pickup (and associated electronics) in the bridge position on the EB3. Both used the same materials, mahogany bodies and necks (maple necked from 1972) with rosewood (and occasionally ebony) fingerboards. During much of the production run, the EB0 had a 3-ply pickguard (b-w-b) whilst the EB3s had 5-ply (b-w-b-w-b).

Production of all Gibson EB-0 bass guitars was at the main Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Strengths

Short scale, mahogany throughout and the unique Gibson EB humbucker made for a quick playing bass with a heavy heavy sound. Obviously popular with the burgeoning rock movement of the late sixties, but also a true design classic that still looks as fresh as it did in '61.

Weaknesses

Sixties EBOs (sixties Gibsons in general) were prone to breaks in the headstock, around the body-neck join and also around the input jack. The back slanting headstock is unfortunate; if a guitar falls backwards, it's headstock generally hits the ground first. Mahogany can be brittle too, and such a fall can easily crack or even break the guitar. The short scale was also seen as a weakness by some, and so a long scale version was also available from 1970.

The EB0 is reknowned for its deep sound. Melting butter. Or mud. Depending on your point of view. Very popular in the 1960s, but by the turn of the decade, tastes had changed. To brighten the sound (and maybe to strengthen the instrument) Gibson introduced long scale (34.5") models which did not sell overly well, and from 1972 laminated maple necks. It was to no avail, though, as by 1974 other Gibson basses such as the Ripper (and in 1975 the Grabber) had appeared and sales of SG style basses plummeted.


Sound Clips

DI'd EB0 - no amplifier

I generally use flatwound strings on my EB basses, typically Thomastik_Infeld Jazz Flats (JF324) or LaBella Deep Talkin' (760FSS); both enhance the fatness of the EB0 humbucker



1964 EB0 (round wound strings, treble and vol pots positioned at 9/10, recorded directly into my sound card, with no pre-amp)



1970 slotted headstock EB0. Wow, what a tone!


EB-0 through vintage amps

Through three 15" tube bass amplifiers: the studio standard of the last half century, the Ampeg B15, an early 1970s British amp, the WEM Dominator bass, and Gibsons own mid 1960s bass amp, that would have been sold alongside the EB-0, the Gibson Atlas IV

1964 Ampeg B-15N

1966 Gibson EB-0 through a 1964 Ampeg B-15N

The B15 is the studio amp, and there are a lot of great tones to be had with an EB0

More soundclips with different amp/bass settings here



1973 WEM Dominator Bass Mk 1

1966 Gibson EB-0 through a 1973 WEM Dominator Bass Mk 1

This little British WEM amp has a 15" Celestion Greenback G15M - and it breaks up nicely, producing a superb snarly rumble

More WEM/EB0 soundclips here



1964 Gibson Atlas IV1966 Gibson EB-0 through a 1964 Gibson Atlas IV

The Atlas can be pretty clean, and then turn gritty as you dig in - you can hear plenty of snarl towards the end of this clip

More Atlas/EB0 soundclips here



EB-0 with a band

Chronology

1960 EB0

1959

The EB0 was launched in 1959, with the Les Paul Special body shape of the time, and the trannslucent Cherry finish. It was only shipped in small numbers, and today is highly collectable. Have a look at the original publicity from the May/June 1959 issue of Gibson Gazette which announces the new model.


1960

The first catalogue appearance of the EB-0 (and the only time shown with the Les paul junior style body) was in the 1960 Gibson catalogue


1964 EB0 in pelham blue

1961

In late 1961 the more familiar 'SG' style body was introduced (see the announcement from the Summer 1961 issue of Gibson Gazette), and remained largely unchanged for the best part of 6 years. It was available in Cherry, or custom colours such as this one in pelham blue.


Earlier SG-style EB-0 features include a black bakelite humbucker cover, raised (not centered) crown headstock inlay and a wider neck profile (width at nut, 1 3/4"). Have a closer look at a 1962 Gibson EB-0.

As the sixties progressed subtle changes were made, nickel replaced plastic as the pickup cover, though the pickup below remained unchanged, and the necks were made slightly thinner. Have a closer look at a 1966 Gibson EB-0.


1969 EB0

1967

From late '67 the infamous 2 point tune-o-matic bridge, with chrome plated bridge cover was used on all EB bass models, and the handrest was discontinued. This was the first time all four strings could be intonated seperately. A few intermediate instruments did have the new intonatable bridge combined with the centrally positioned handrest.


1969

As the decade came to a close, Gibson started experimenting with laminate necks - the basses were no exception, and the traditional one-piece mahogany neck was replaced by a three-piece version, otherwise identical. Check out a 1969 EB-0.


1970 split headstock EB0

1970

By the very end of '69 split headstock EB0s were being produced. They were similar in most other respects to earlier models, save for the slots in the headstock, and backward facing banjo-style tuning keys. The pickup did now have a black plastic mount, and was finally height adjustable. Have a closer look at a 1970 Split headstock model.


1972 EB0

The 1972 EB0 saw a major remodelling; a new pickup design - positioned further away from the neck, solid headstock, laminated maple neck with volute, thicker, weightier body, and new pickguard. Check out a 1972 EB-0.


Gibson 3 point bridge

Gibson started using the 3 point bridge (still with chrome-plated bridge cover) in 1973. This was a far more reliable design, and is still in use today. This bridge design does not incorporate the string mute of earlier models.


The last Gibson EB0s were shipped in 1979 (only 6) compared to over 3000 in its heyday 1969.



similar models

There were two variations of the EB-0 available, if only briefly. The EB-0F was available between 1962-65, though only 250 were shipped. The f stood for Fuzz, as this bass had built in passive fuzz circuitry. Gibson also recognized demand for a long scale bass so over 1000 long scale (34 1/2 ") EB-0L basses were made between 1970-77.


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There are 2 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
wsuarez66 Comment left 28th September 2012 15:03:32
A fine bass for the dub and the classic rock styles, but who has sucess with the EBo in jazz
JD Peeler Comment left 26th November 2012 12:12:05
I have a 1967 Gibson Bass that has been made fret-less. I either want to sell it or have it re-fretted. Any ideas?

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