Gibson EB-1 Electric Bass Guitar (1954)

Gibson  EB-1 Electric Bass Guitar  (1954)
This item has been sold.
Item # 11213
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson EB-1 Model Electric Bass Guitar (1954), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 4-0216, natural mahogany finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

This is a really nice original example of the instrument we think this is just about the coolest and most distinctive electric bass ever designed -- and one of the most eccentric! The "Gibson Electric Bass" (The name EB-1 was not used until 1958, when the semi-hollow EB-2 debuted) was first issued in mid-1953 as one of the earliest solid-body basses. The "fiddle-shaped" body design is unique and owes nothing but general concept to the slightly earlier (late 1951-52) Fender Precision -- and was likely an inspiration to Hofner in Germany! Gibson president Ted McCarty wanted something that was as different from the Fender Bass as possible, and that's what the company engineers delivered.

The violin-body EB was introduced to the public in mid-1953, heralded as "a revelation in rhythm" by Gibson's sales department. This particular bass has a serial number dating to very early 1954, marking it one of the first couple of hundred of the new model issued. The EB sold all of 105 units that first year and a further 125 in '54. The model was produced in fairly small numbers up through the end of 1958, after which they were replaced by the simpler slab-bodied EB-0. Gibson's sales records indicate a total of 546 sold.

These early EB-1s are generally the clearest-sounding of the 30" scale Gibson basses. The large brown Royalite-covered pickup is actually a single coil unit; the huge coil is mounted on its side, which is why the polepieces sit at the bottom end. While still very powerful and deep-sounding, this pickup has more mid/high content than the 1958 and later humbucking versions.

The sculpted solid mahogany body has painted-on f-holes and "purfling" like a violin-family instrument, and a large (and seemingly superfluous) brown Royalite pickguard. Even the knobs and jackplate are tinted brown. The tuners at the top of the 30 1/2" scale mahogany neck are Kluson banjo units with keystone plastic buttons -- an odd choice Gibson persisted with up through 1960. The bass was provided with a telescoping end pin to allow it to be played upright, which proved awkward at best!

The Gibson Electric Bass has remained a connoisseur's piece since its introduction. Although seen during the 1950s in the hands of the Flamingos, jump blues bandleader Lloyd Lambert and most visibly Little Richard's Upsetters, the instrument never caught on in a big way. In later years Felix Pappalardi, Jack Bruce, Doug Lubhan, John McVie and even (on occasion) John Paul Jones have made use of the Gibson EB, and it remains one of the company's most distinctive creations, if seeming a bit whimsical in retrospect. This early model a fine example complete in the original pink-lined brown HSC with the adjustable end pin for stand-up playing included.
Overall length is 44 1/4 in. (112.4 cm.), 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) deep. Scale length is 30 1/2 in. (775 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This bass is clean for its era, with some light wear but no notable damage. It remains nicely original; even the fragile original brown-painted plastic jack plate is still in place, although it has a couple of cracks it is still functional. There is noticeable checking to the finish, with scattered small dings, scrapes and dents with one heavier belt buckle spot into the wood on the back. The area above the pickup has a few deeper dings. The back of the neck is very clean with light checking and a couple of tiny marks; the back of the headstock has some lines in the finish checking caused by lubricant leeching from the tuners.

The only modification is subtle and practical; the bride mounting studs have had a larger metal cup added underneath. These early studs are shorter than the later '50s pattern, so the bridges on these basses (and early Les Paul Juniors) often lean forward dramatically now. This one has still pulled forward somewhat, but less than most and there is some slight chip-out to the wood off the front edge of the treble side bushing, under then pickguard.

There are no other alterations to the instrument and everything works as intended. The original case is fully intact without too much wear and even the screw-in extendable post designed to allow stand-up play is present and functional. The original slim frets show hardly any wear, and the bass is set up with flatwound strings to keep them that way. Overall this is a really nice player, a super cool example of one of the earliest Gibson bass guitars ever made. Overall Excellent Condition.