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Gibson made Grabbers in wine red, ebony, natural, walnut and white, adding candy apple red in the 1980s

Two mid-seventies Gibson Grabbers: a 1975 Gibson Grabber in Wine Red finish, and a 1977 Gibson Grabber in Maple Gloss finish

Gibson Grabber Bass

Solid maple (early models) or alder body, maple neck. 34 1/2 inch scale.

The Gibson Grabber uses standard long-scale strings

Fender 9050ML Stainless Flatwound Bass Strings (Fender - Stainless Bass Flatwound - Long Scale - 34 - Medium Light)

Rotosound RS77LD Jazz Bass Strings (Rotosound - Bass Strings - RS77LD - Jazz Bass)

D'Addario ECB81 XL Chromes Flatwound Bass Strings (D'addario Chromes Stainless Steel Flatwound - Soft)

Rotosound RS66LD Bass Strings Long Scale Strings (RotoSound Swing Bass RS66LD - Stainless Steel)

Fender 9050L Stainless Flatwound Bass Strings (Fender - Stainless Bass Flatwound - Long Scale - 34 - Light )

The Grabber was a real departure for Gibson in the early 1970s. Along with its sister instrument the G-3 and the Ripper, it brought some new ideas to the Gibson stable, and in the second half of the 1970s these models became gibsons best selling basses. They take pride of place in the 1975 Gibson bass catalogue. As well as a new body shape and flying V headstock shape, the Grabber was Gibsons first bolt-on neck bass, and had an inovative 'sliding pickup' which allowed manual positioning (see images below - click to enlarge); you literally 'grab' the pickup, hence the name. The bolt on maple neck was more Fenders way of building guitars, and as such the Grabber has a brighter more Fender-like tone than most Gibson basses.

It was, of course, built to be a cheap bass, because it had to compete commercially not only with the classic Fender models, but also many imported instruments. The Grabber used cheaper parts, the least parts and cheapest construction methods possible. The sliding pickup gave the sounds of a bridge or neck position, with just one pickup, 2 pots and no switches, all mounted on the scratchplate. The Fender-like bridge was far simpler than the usual Gibson post-mounted versions, and the front-routed body with bolt-on neck is still the simplest, and quickest way to manufacture and assemble a guitar.

The Brothers Johnson - Louis Johnson with a Gibson Grabber, and his brother George with a one-off left-handed S-1

In January 1975 the Grabber was listed at $319 for the Natural Satin finish (alder body), or $369 for Wine red finish. This is not only Gibsons cheapest bass (the Ripper is $449, EB3 $499, and the Les Paul Signture and Triumph are $629 and $679 respectively), but the cheapest guitar in this catalogue period. The Marauder is the cheapest six string at $349; the reason behind this may have been to directly target Fenders Precision and Telecaster basses, which were then priced $325 and $330.

Take a closer look at a Grabber here

The most famous Grabber users were probably Gene Simmons from the band Kiss, Suzi Quatro (Suzi tells us what she thinks of the Grabber in our Suzi Quatro mini interview) and Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson.

1973-74 Model introduction - maple body, only wine red or ebony finishes available. However only 1 instrument shipped in 1973, and 219 in 1974 - see the Grabber shipping totals). However a Gibson letter to dealers from late 1975 remarks on \"the sucessful introduction of the Grabber Bass in January of 1975\".
1975 The Grabber was well received at the 1975 NAMM trade show alongside the G-3. Peak year for Grabber production, 2637 instruments shipped. Natural Satin finish also now available, these guitars having an alder body and maple neck.
1976 White finish introduced.
1977 Walnut and Maple Gloss finishes introduced. Maple Gloss is simply clearcoat over a maple body. Grabbers were available in maple and alder.
1982 Candy Apple Red finish available.
1983 Model discontinued.


The Gibson Grabber in the 1975 catalogue

An early seventies advertisement for the Gibson Grabber

Sound Clips

These sound clips are recorded directly into a mobilepre preamp. Recorded with flat wound strings.

The Grabber first appeared in the 1975 catalogue, described as follows

The Grabber's sliding pickup offers a wide variety of sounds. Slide it forward for a deep rhythm roar, backward for a full treble punch, or slide it anywhere in between

Sales were strong, and almost immediately the grabber replaced the EBO as Gibsons entry level bass.


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US ebay listings

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UK ebay listings

1970's Gibson G3 Vintage Bass Pickup

Current price: £98.16
buy it now
Time left: 2h 31m
Gibson 4 Or 5 String BASS Guitar Case EB Grabber 2012 2013 ? Right Or Left Hand

Current price: £226.06
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Current price: £12.20
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VINTAGE 1970's USA GIBSON GRABBER BASS GUITAR NECK PLATE 1974-1982

Current price: £58.90
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Current price: £5.94
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VINTAGE 1975 USA GIBSON GRABBER BASS GUITAR WIRING HARNESS POTS JACK ORIGINAL

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GIBSON GRABBER G-1 BASS GUITAR 1974/75

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1974 USA GIBSON GRABBER BASS GUITAR PICKUP 9.31K 1975

Current price: £74.36
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1974 GIBSON GRABBER Bass & Sexy Woman Featured on Collector's Envelope

Current price: £2.97
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1974 Gibson Grabber Bass signed by Gene Simmons

Current price: £1484.32
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Gibson Knob Pointer Set of 3 From 1970s- L6s S1 Les Paul Ripper Grabber G3 SG

Current price: £20.82
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1978 Gibson Bass Neckplate & Screws For Grabber G3 & Victory wLogo 1979 1980 USA

Current price: £47.59
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2012 Gibson Grabber 3 '70s Tribute Electric Bass Guitar Satin Black, Very Nice!

Current price: £451.54
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Current price: £189.78
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There are 2 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
Fly Guitars Comment left 13th June 2013 08:08:13
A 70s serial number starting 00 will indicate a 1976 bass. The number is a decal, right? This was a short lived scheme, being replaced by a stamped eight digit serial number from 1977.
helen Comment left 6th June 2013 18:06:43
I have a maple grabber #00184153, what year is it and how much is it worth about? Sill plays great. Thanks

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