Gibson EB-0 Custom Electric Bass Guitar (1964)

Gibson  EB-0 Custom Electric Bass Guitar  (1964)
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Item # 11918
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson EB-0 Custom Model Electric Bass Guitar (1964), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 210100, white lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This 1964 EB-0 is a exceptionally rare instrument, a custom ordered bass in a striking white lacquer finish. While the early SG-style Les Paul Custom, Special and TV Junior were all cataloged in this color, it was not listed as an option for either SG-styled bass the EB-0 or the EB-3. The same color was listed as "Polaris White" on the Firebird/Thunderbird custom color chart available after 1963, but rarely ordered. This bass carries a "Custom" engraved truss rod cover attesting to its specially ordered status; it was likely procured for a band that also has white SG's of some sort; matching guitars were still very much a "thing" in 1964!

This EB-0 bass dates to mid-1964; the pot dates are partially obscured but one reads to the 20-something week of that year. This was about three years after the model adopted the new slim sculpted SG body in place of the older slab style introduced in 1959. Before 1965 these EB-model Gibson basses were built in the hundreds, not thousands as they were later in the decade. Production of the EB-0 *just* topped 1,000 for the first time in 1964, a decent total but only a fraction of what Fender was selling at the time. The 1964 list price was $240 and there would have been an upcharge for the custom finish ($15 was the cost for Firebirds). The case with this bass is the also rare model #540 "Faultless" hardshell which was almost never ordered with an EB-0; it added a whopping $72 to the list price! Most buyers went with the $26.50 chipboard #329.

While never carrying "Les Paul" markings, these basses have the same elaborately sculpted body and squared-off neck pocket as the early "Les Paul-SG" model guitars. Due to the tenon being set deeper into the body basses generally do not suffer the same neck heel issues as their 6-string cousins. This bass has nickel-plated hardware including the huge pickup cover, lately changed over from black Royalite. There is a lever-action mute assembly fitted, an on-and-off appointment that appears somewhat randomly on the model over the earliest years; it may have been part of the special order on this one.

The round-backed neck is fairly chunky, noticeably wider at the nut than post-1965 models and very comfortable. The headstock has slightly more pronounced curves than later '60s models, fitted with the large Kluson bass tuners Gibson adopted in late 1960. The headstock is inlaid with the Gibson logo and crown motif on the face. The "Custom" white-bordered truss rod cover was standard on the 1964 SG Custom model, but was sometimes also fitted to special ordered instruments like this.

While the EB-0 is generally not one of the more coveted or collected Gibson instruments, this white example is a major exception to the rule. Over the course of the 1960s a VERY few EB-0s and EB-3's were sold in non-standard finishes; for the most part bass players were content with the "normal" cherry look. A few black, solid red and Pelham Blue examples have turned up over the last decades, but a white bass is an extremely rare find even by these standards.

The EB-0 was the first really popular electric bass from Kalamazoo and remains a dark-horse classic to connoisseurs of pure low end. The single large "Mudbucker" pickup puts out an enormous swath of deep bass, and not much else! It also easily overdrives many amps, sliding quickly into distorted Cream/Mountain territory. This super striking example not only looks amazing but is also a fun and very comfortable instrument to play, as long as you don't expect much treble in the sound. With the mute engaged it actually does an excellent upright bass impression, just as intended! This is flat-out the coolest EB-0 we have ever seen, a 4-string "White Whale" if ever there was one!
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 30 in. (762 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This bass has been played over the last 60 years but not abused, and remains original with no repairs or modifications. The white lacquer finish is generally well preserved with a good crisp color showing much less yellowing than many period SG's. There is typical lateral checking with dings, dents and scrapes scattered around, but no large areas of heavy wear. The area by the upper side of the fingerboard shows some minor shrinkage chipping but there is no movement in the neck joint itself. The top back edge of the headstock shows the heaviest loss.

The instrument retains all the original hardware, even the handrest and the lever-action mute which is still functional with newer foam added. The pickguard has a small split at the lower front tip with the piece still in place. The frets appear to be original, they were crowned somewhat lower long ago showing little subsequent wear.

This is a superbly striking instrument visually; it is amazing the difference in flash a coat of white lacquer makes over the standard cherry livery! Like most early Gibson basses it is superbly comfortable to play; light, supple and effortless to handle. How does it sound? Like a big, seething tide of low-end darkness, "All the bass all the time" as Geddy Lee put in in his excellent book on bass lore. While we have encountered a few custom color Gibson "EB" basses over the last 45 years this is the only example of a "Custom" marked white EB-0 we have seen, a super rarity still housed in the rare deluxe yellow lined, pebble grained OHSC. Excellent - Condition.