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1972 EB3 in walnut

GIBSON EB3 BASS

The EB3 is a true design classic. Not many basses are as easily recognizeable, and as often copied as the Gibson EB3.

I was immediately at home with the EB3, one could get a wide variety of tones. I really felt one with that model. Was not happy to have it stolen!!! - Andy Fraser

For the music I was playing with Tull, the short scale Gibsons had a fullness of tone that was very suited to the sound of the band - Glenn Cornick

There's something about mahogany, there's a warm roundness,there's a character I get from my Thunderbird and EB-3s - Mike Watt

1961 Gibson EB3
1961 Gibson EB3
The EB3 came about as a companion bass model to the newly designed Les Paul (SG shape) guitars. It was launched in 1961, first being shown at the NAMM show in July of that year, for general release soon afterwards, with a launch price was $285. Almost 15000 basses were shipped before the model was discontinued in 1979, although sales figures for the years 1969-1973 far outstrip the years before or after. More about EB3 pricing and EB3 shipping figures

The EB0 and EB3 basses had a distinctive sound - in part due to their solid mahogany set-neck construction, and partially due to the pickups - particularly the large humbucker (lovingly dubbed mudbucker - see more about the Gibson EB3 pickup) in the neck position. The bass also came with a varitone switch for four distinct tones - including an incredibly bassy choked neck-pickup sound, often referred to as 'mud' by EB3 fans and detractors alike. Listen to EB3 soundclips

The evolution of the EB3 bass followed a very similar path to its sibling the EB0; changes in design happened at the same time, except that the EB3 never existed in the Les Paul Junior cutaway style of the 1960 EB0. The EB3 sported a solid mahogany body, 30 1/2 inch scale, mahogany 1961-71 one-piece neck with rosewood fingerboard, built in string mute, to give an upright bass sound. Details of EB3 variations

Two EB3s: 1969 (Cherry finish), and a 1972 (walnut)
Two EB3s: 1969 EB3 (Cherry finish), and a 1972 EB3 (walnut)
Two EB3s: 1971 (walnut finish), and a 1971 EB3L (ebony)
Two EB3s: 1971 EB3L (ebony), and a 1971 EB3 (walnut finish)

1971 Gibson EB3
1971 Gibson EB3
The beginning of the seventies saw the first major redesign of the bass; the shorter scale length had been seen as one of the EB3s weak points, so a long scale EB3L was produced along side regular shortscales. Interestingly the new long scale versions never exceeded the sales of short scale basses at any point, despite being the same price.

1972 Gibson EB3L
1972 Gibson EB3L
By late 1971/early 1972, the series was being redesigned again, but more drastically this time. Necks became maple, pickups were repositioned and circuits redesigned. Underbridge mutes were phased out entirely.

The 1960s EB3 was a small bass, as well as being only 30 1/2 scale, it weighed a mere 3.7 kg (compared to 4.6 kg of a 1970s EB3).

Some early seventies basses had a piece of foam rubber glued to the underside of the bridge cover, in order to act as a mute, but these again were usually removed.

The 1960s EB3 was very popular with the British bands of the late 1960s. People like Jack Bruce (Cream), Andy Fraser (Free), Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Trevor Bolder (David Bowie), Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull), and Chris White (Zombies) all used the EB3 as well as a whole host more in the seventies. Today it still used by bassists such as Jared Followill (Kings of Leon), Mike Watt (Iggy and the Stooges)

It was available in cherry, walnut, ebony, natural and white. Colours other than cherry and walnut are uncommon and are highly sought after. Pelham blue models were available by custom order in the 1960s and white too.

The following pages summarise technical specifications, (parts lists, schematics) EB3 shipping figures, catalogue appearances and soundclips of the EB3 bass, as well as a closer look at instruments from different years.

similar models

1960s
EB0, EB0F, EB6, Melody Maker bass

1970s
EB4L, SB300, SB350, SB400, SB450

1990s
SG-Z

2000s
SG reissue bass, SG supreme


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Vintage 1973 Gibson EB-0 Electric Bass Plays Great, Sounds Great W/Hard Case EB0

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There are 4 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
JRHartley Comment left 7th September 2012 04:04:48
Hi, hope you can assist me. Was there a recommended set-up for the EB3? ie what string height at twelth fret? What gauge strings? How did they leave the factory? Did Gibson suggest such things to it's dealers/authorised repairmen?
Rui Costa Comment left 6th October 2012 20:08:50
Hi there, Can you help to find saddles and screws for a 1967 Gibson EB 3 bridge? Thank you!!! Rui Costa
Bob Comment left 17th February 2013 21:09:03
I bought a Gib EB-3 Cherry from a fella who had too many contacts with the law so I got it in the mid 60's. I've had it since, haven't played it in 40 yrs. Original hard case with bright orange lining. We (Gary Shope & Purple Sage) played it in the 60's on stage a whole summer at Buck Lake Ranch, Angola, IN and sat in with some of the stars of the era, Joanne Castle, Roy Clark, etc., as well as many other places. We were the House Band at Buck Lake. I believe it was in 1967-69.
Sean Parker Comment left 21st December 2012 08:08:03
Hi I am attempting to restore a 1967 EB3 and am short of the Bridge mute attachment, so will have to get one made. Please can you be of assistance in helping me to obtain plans to make one. I have tried Gibson with no luck. Regards Sean Parker

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