Ampeg AMB-1 Electric Bass Guitar (1968)

Ampeg  AMB-1 Electric Bass Guitar  (1968)
$6,500.00 + shipping
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Item # 10344
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Ampeg AMB-1 Model Electric Bass Guitar (1968), made in Linden NJ, serial # 000549, red/black sunburst finish, laminated maple body, maple neck with ebony fingerboard, black gig bag case.

This is a somewhat worn-in but great-playing and sounding original example of a relatively rare instrument: the Ampeg AMB-1 (Ampeg Magnetic Bass #1), the second iteration of the 1960s Ampeg "Horizontal Bass". The specifications are typical for the 1968 series Ampeg models, which are rather different from the first 1966 versions. The major change is the bridge and pickup construction, both redesigned to make the instrument more practical for the high-volume music of the late 1960s than the original design, which was aimed at players weaned on the upright bass.

Ampeg basses of the 1960s were the product of company founder Everett Hull's personal distaste for the Fender-style bass guitar; he considered the upright bass to be the only legitimate low end instrument! The 1966 Ampeg was designed to utilize the same vibration-activated "Mystery Pickup" (located under the bridge) as the upright Baby Bass, allowing the use of gut strings as well as steel-core for more traditional bass sounds. It was initially offered in fretted and fretless models designated the AEB-1 and AUB-1.

In the ever-louder playing environments of the late 1960s, this design proved impractical as the pickup was inefficient and highly microphonic. After Hull sold the company to Unimusic in 1967 the basses were quickly re-designed with a more efficient magnetic pickup, located in the center of the body. This pickup is an interesting and unusual design, with four separate coils set inside a block of epoxy resin. This makes it fully humbucking with a nice dark and growly tone, very effective in traditional bass settings.

The bridge was also redesigned into a single integrated unit, which did not require the overlong strings of the original model. It remains fully adjustable for height and intonation, with an additional tension bar behind the saddles that can vary the string angle. The almost-solid body is carved from solid blocks of maple, which is another improvement from the multi-laminated bodies of the earlier models. The unique scroll-head neck is also maple, with a heavy ebony fingerboard. This is an extremely high quality, professional grade instrument in all aspects.

The AMUB-1 abounds with original and thoughtful design touches, from the carved-through f-holes that can be used as handles to the pull-for-off volume pot. This was a unique and original take on a pro-quality electric bass but the production run was under two years and relatively few were made. The AMUB-1 with the superior 1968 body and pickup design is perhaps the greatest of the Ampeg is certainly the most useful to serious players and remains absolutely distinctive in both look and sound 50+ years on. Some high profile users in the '70s were The Band's Rick Danko (the AMUB is most associated with him) and Boz Burrell of Bad Company. The AMB-1 is simply one of those sadly underappreciated classics, a far better instrument than its relative obscurity would suggest.
Overall length is 47 in. (119.4 cm.), 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 34 1/2 in. (876 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This imposing Ampeg remains in all-original condition, showing a decent amount of play wear overall but with no repairs or alterations. The body finish on these is notoriously fragile -- this one has numerous small chips, dings, and rubbed spots (some touched up neatly) but none of the wholesale flaking many have suffered. The back of the body has some heavier wear mostly around the edges, which are down to the wood in spots.

Much of the finish has been worn off the back of the neck, giving it a superb feel similar to an old upright...and an old worn-in Fender neck! There was some clear overspray added to this area only, some of which is worn off again. The scroll headstock has dings and chips as well.

The bass is original and complete, even the usually removed bridge cover is intact with the proper mounting bolts. The pickguard is in excellent shape with no cracks and just one small worn-through spot by the pickup. The original frets show just some very light wear and the ebony fingerboard is quite clean. Playability is excellent and the sound is most unique. This bass has a set of 1970s green-silk Fender flatwound strings fitted that really enhance its thumpy, dark character; that's vintage mojo you can't fake. This is not the cleanest of these we have had but probably the best player. It includes a more recent gig bag that fits well, and these are hard to fit! Overall Very Good + Condition.