Epiphone Upright Bass research questions

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MollyKay, May 4, 2008.


  1. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Southern PA
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    Bass Hobby'ist
    I am doing more research on Epiphone Upright basses. I have expanded my quest to learn more specific characteristics about these basses. For all of you that own or did own one of these great American made plywood basses here are my research questions if you can help me out. You can post or PM the information.

    • What is the serial number and where was it located? Serial numbers can be located under the scroll head on the E side (look up), at the end of the finger board or at the end pin.
    • What is the model number? It can be located on the metal badge on the tail piece. Model numbers are B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5.
    • Is your tail piece black, dark brown, blonde or highly flamed maple?
    • What color is your bass?
    • What finish are your tuners? Brass, Bright nickel, Blacken nickel
    • Are your tuners etched? This is so far only a B5 characteristic
    • Does the bass have real Black/White/Black purfling, single black pin stripe or double black pin stripe?
    • Does it have a purfling "loop" on the back of the bass below the neck?
    • Any guess as to what year the bass was made…and this is a guess.
    • Any other notable characteristics to the bass?

    Thanks every one…the more I found out about these basses the less I actually know…but it is fun and I am meeting the nicest people…like a 85 year old man who is the original owner of a Epiphone B-2 he bought new in 1941…it just doesn’t get any better then that!!! :cool:
  2. ASBass

    ASBass

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Location:
    Ohio
    Molly,
    I think you already have the number, but here's the rest of the info:
    ~Serial number 1202 located under the scroll head on the E side.
    ~B4 badge on the flamed maple tailpiece.
    ~Dark blonde
    ~Not-so-Bright-anymore-nonetched-nickel tuners.
    ~Real black-white-black purfling with no loop.
    I hope you'll share your research with all of us Epi fans.
  3. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
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    Southern PA
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    ...this is just the type of information needed.

    The B-2 is number #493 and was bought new in 1941 so this blows any ideas I had about first year of manufacture being 1940. I also am trying to find out if Epiphone stopped making basses during WW2 as the other American makers did. There has to be some significance in the placement of the serial numbers...I just need to keep digging. :)

    Thanks again...your details have been logged. :cool:
  4. MollyKay

    MollyKay

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    Sep 10, 2006
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    Here is what I meen by a "loop" on the back at the base of the neck. All B5's have had the loop but Epiphone stopped this detail on B4's some time after serial number 1200.

    Both of these basses are B4's. The first one on the left is #634 with the loop. The second on the right is #1854 with no loop but still has the B/W/B purfling. :D:D

    Attached Files:

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  6. MingusAmongUs

    MingusAmongUs

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Location:
    New Fairfield, CT
    Hey MK,

    You may have this info on my bass already but just in case:

    wish i could find one. i have only pencil marks scribbled inside mine, and a weird little blue sticker.
    Guessing B4 but could be anything. no indication on the brass plate.
    heh. i'd call it brown, but it almost matches the bass exactly, "sunburst" gradient and all
    reddish/orangeish/brownish tobaccoish sunburst
    looks like heavily oxidized brass... but could be nickel i suppose. i'd have to clean the gunk off to see.
    no etching that i can see.
    it appears to have a painted double pin stripe
    no loop, just a little "whoop-de-doo"
    yours is as good as mine. kalamazoo sticker suggests late 50's or later but again... wth do i know
    - am i the only one that doesn't have the model on the plate or a serial number on any of the usual locations?
    - have you seen anything this reddish/light brown color?
    - it seems the neck set angle on this bass is unusually high. most bridges will not provide enough string height for a good tone unless they have adjusters or are almost raw.
    - i think this may apply to all epis, but the profile or rib depth is remarkably narrow, considering the big sound you get from it. i haven't measured it but i'd be surprised if it gets as high as 7" at any point.

    You can see for yourself here:

    http://www.bustamelon.com/gallery2/v/epiphone/

    Would love to hear if you can answer any of these question for me.
    Keep up the hunt!
  7. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Southern PA
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    Hey Mingus…you have an interesting bass…it has some unusual characteristics that make me scratch my head. With no model number on the tail badge it may have lost its original tail badge (those three little pins can break pretty easily after years of wear) and this is a replacement badge. Epiphone used the exact same metal badge on their guitars so it is easy to pick up a non engraved Epiphone metal badge…search on eBay…they are out there (beware of fraudulent bass with an Epiphone tail badges they can be faked).

    Also no serial number…hummmm…your bass is a Kalamazoo made bass (the blue tag on the inside tells that tale). So far the Kalamazoo made basses have the serial number stamped on the bottom of the bass between the saddle and the end pin. All Epiphone and Gibson serial numbers are stamped with die stamps leaving an impression in the wood. You can sometimes feel the numbers before you can see them, especially with aging eyes and bifocals...not that this would be a problem for you. Would you check one more time real close…please?

    Your bass has no rib binding…all Epi’s had rib binding (kerfling) except the B1’s and Gibson/Epiphone only made B4 and B5 if the history is correct…so this is an oddity on your bass.

    The double black pin stripes are really set far a part; the other double pin stripes I have seen are really close together, more like a Kay bass.

    The color is a reddish/orange/gold/brown; I have seen this color before. This maybe an early Gibson bass made from leftover Epiphone stock or a really late Gibson bass made of the last remaining parts…I can’t explain the lack of rib binding.

    Your bass must be a B4 as Gibson/Epiphone only made B4 and B5…or so the history on the web says so. I still want to establish the significance of the three location of the serial numbers…my theory is: if it is under the scroll head pre war, on the end of the finger board post war, on bottom of the bass near the end pin the Gibson/Epiphone era…but this is just a theory. Epiphone would have made a lot of basses from 1939 -1941/42. I have numbers in the data base up to # 1434 under the scroll head. This would mean they turned out 500 or so basses a year from 1939-1941/42…not likely.

    I do now have one definite line in the sand, bass # 493 was purchased in 1941 brand new (I spoke with the original owners family an have family pictures) so this becomes a reference point for dating #’s 001-500 as pre 1942. Another line in the sand is bass # 1434 was bought new in Los Angeles in 1950-51…but then again how do you know those basses did not sit around for years before they were purchased.

    I will continue my quest for information and document actual facts and see what is revealed by that information. I do have a few resources to contact for more history but I get the sense the records on Epiphone and Gibson/Epiphone will need to be pieced back together in a slow methodical process much like the Kay and American Standard history has been documented.

    So far my lowest number for the Epiphone’s is # 267, highest is # 3059 and then Gibson/Epiphone numbers started over with # 1-# 667 the lowest that I have seen being # 392 the highest # 594. In my data base I have about 50 basses in total cataloged and touched in person 16 of these basses. I need more information and pictures on a B3, this is the only bass I have yet to lay my hands on or see pictures of…my search continues.

    Thanks for the help, support, opinions and misinformation. I’ll throw it all together and see what I get…when I really should be practicing…I guess I am a researcher at heart…is this how George Gruhn got started? :cool:

    THANKS
  8. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    I know where one or two Epi's are : one is with Steve Azola as his personal bass, and there was one last year at Herb David's guitar shop in Ann Arbor MI - a really nice one in good shape. So some info to be had there, about all the ones I know about. I see one on the trad jazz festival circuit once in a while - I'll get what I can from him when I see it. Any particular Q's you want me to ask? I helped get the AS stuff together, so I should remember, but looks like there are some other kinds of things with these to look for.

    Ike
  9. MollyKay

    MollyKay

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    Sep 10, 2006
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    Southern PA
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    Hi Ike…THANKS…some of the most important facts are the serial number and its location on the bass, the model number, purfling details and any first hand purchase date information. When I get first hand information like I did on the B-2 # 493 really helps. This bass was purchased new in 1941 and the original owner was still alive (85 years old) to provide first hand information and photo’s…that is the absolute best information. :)

    Again thanks for any help…I would love to piece together the history as Kip Martin did on the AS basses and Roger Stowers has on Kay basses.
  10. taxman1040

    taxman1040

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    cleveland, ohio
    Are your findings listed or published anywhere? How many respondents participated? I also am very interested in your results. Thanks,

    taxman
    ( email to jcd1040@hotmail.com)
  11. MollyKay

    MollyKay

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    Sep 10, 2006
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    Southern PA
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    This description is unlike any other Epiphone…especially the paper oval tag. :cool:

    I would really like pictures…I sent you a PM. I will log this information…not quite sure where it fits in…but I will log it any way.

    Thanks! :D
  12. Steve Azola

    Steve Azola Azola Basses

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
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    www.azola.com
    Hey Mollykay -

    I always wanted to do an Epi story but never found the time. While my main business is building EUBs, I also buy, sell, and do some work on big basses. Mostly plywoods - the underloved ones most shops don't want to mess with. I have great respect for them. I think more great music was made on American plywood basses during the '40s and '50s than on anything from Europe.

    Anyway, I have had 5 Epis in the last 10 or so years. I kept one, which Ike Harris mentioned earlier in this post. Its specs are as follows:

    Bass#1
    Serial#165 stamped just under the E-A tuner plate.

    The Rosewood tailpiece has an Epi badge with no model # stamped.

    The color is blonde with the edges sprayed with a slightly transparent creamy white. The finish is all original except for the top, which was redone clear, now faded to match the rest of the bass.

    The tuners are plain brass with a very simple machine-done etching.

    The purfling is real B/W/B front and back. With a simple loop going up and around the neck heel, not the style you show, or like on any other of my Epis.

    I always thought this bass was an early one, from the early 40s. Based on your original owner bass with a 250ish # I'd say I was not far off.

    Other interesting features other than the off white spray edging -
    This bass has a 2 piece neck with a dark 1/8" stringer in the middle.
    The scroll is, in general, larger than Kay basses.
    The neck wood, sides and back of the bass are moderately figured Maple.

    I bought this bass in Houston, kind of an extra, as I was there picking up another Epiphone, which I will describe next.

    Bass#2
    This bass was the most beautiful bass I have ever seen. It was a Kalamazoo B-5, Blonde, highly figured neck, back, sides and tailpiece, Rosewood fingerboard, Van Eps adjustable bridge, etched Gold plated tuners, and of course real purfling. It was in about as perfect condition a bass could be, being 50 or so years old. I didn't document the serial #, I believe it was #350ish, but more on that later.

    Bass#3
    A very nicely 3 color sunburst B-4 ... think great Jazz guitar sunburst. Rosewood board, dark figured tailpiece, real purfling. No documented #, but I'm pretty sure it was pre-Gibson.

    Bass #4 & 5
    These were strange ones, I think. I got them years apart, but I believe them to be possibly made at the same time. They were both Kalamazoo-made, exactly the same color, with similar #s penciled inside. Pretty much a standard B-4 model but with a see through white blonde color, similar to what Fender put on the Telecaster in the 50s. All the usual B-4 features, except the tailpiece was white also. One was in a church in Juneau, Alaska, all its life. The other was in the mid-west.

    As I said earlier, I sold all but #1. Basses #2, 3 & 4 live fairly close by, and I'm still in touch with their owners. I'll try to get some pictures and the serial #s for you. I sold bass #5 to a Rockabilly guy in London, and have lost touch with him. Also, I'll search my old photos, let you know what I find.

    Hopes this helps.

    - Steve
    www.azola.com
  13. MollyKay

    MollyKay

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    Sep 10, 2006
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    Southern PA
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    Ahhh…someone else who gets the significance of vintage American made plywood basses…THANK YOU :cool:



    Hi Steve…Awesome information…thank you!!!

    I have been out of internet contact for a week so this information is a pleasant surprise. I got to see Epi #1599 in person this weekend. It was a nice B-4 sunburst in excellent condition. I have become like a moth to a light when an Epi bass is near. :D

    The first bass you describe (your personal bass) sounds a lot like #267 which I saw in person. It has the same “slightly transparent creamy white” finish and no stamping on the tail badge. That bass was all original condition with a thick top and a massive scroll head. Your neck “2 piece neck with a dark 1/8" stringer in the middle”, I have seen one other Epi with this feature but I thought it was a replacement neck. I have a 1937 Kay M-4 with a three piece neck as you describe…it is quite unique feature.

    I welcome pictures or additional information if you want to send me a PM. The Epiphone data base keeps growing. I want to try and establish what years during WW2 Epiphone basses were not made along with the significance of the serial number placement. If you have any insight let me know.

    Again thanks very much for your time and efforts. :)
  14. LisaD

    LisaD

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Hi,

    Was just googling for info on my Epiphone and ran across this thread....

    Serial #1858 beneath tuning plate (E string side). Epiphone metal plate on tailpiece but no model number.

    Has the loop.

    Brass/Goldish tuning pegs engraved.

    Blonde finish.

    Bought about 15 years ago from Joe Farrell violins in Baltimore, MD.
  15. MollyKay

    MollyKay

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    Sep 10, 2006
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    Southern PA
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    Hello…thanks for the information!

    This is very curious…this is the highest serial number in my data base found under the tuning plate. All my other numbers this high were on the end of the fingerboard…hummmm. Are your tuners engraved with a leaf design (see the pictures as an example)? If they are engraved with this pattern, then you have a B-5 which would make sense with the loop on the back. I also assume it had the real B/W/B purfling? Thanks very much for the information; I will add it to the data base.

    This bass came out of Baltimore…cool…that is close to where we live. :cool:

    Attached Files:

  16. Rebop

    Rebop

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Deerfield Beach, FL
    Hello,

    I have an Epiphone upright that I am having a hard time identifying. I bought it from an old (now passed) neighbor of mine who played with the Dorsey brothers and some symphonies in the New York area. He had this bass for about 50 years collecting dust in his garage. Apparently, a room-mate of his who was a bassist owed him some money for rent and gave him his road bass in lieu of the money, and being a horn player, he let the bass sit for eons until I came along and found it in his garage. I paid $150 and spent 8 months rebuilding it. It is now my main gigging instrument but I cannot find any info about it.

    The serial number is '325' located under scroll on E-side.
    The Epiphone badge is blank where the model should be.
    The tailpiece is a dark brown.
    The tuners are etched with little 'art deco' lines and are made of brass.
    The finish is a dark reddish-brown.
    Black/white/black purfling.

    Here are some images of the bass...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for any info you may have!

    -Noah
  17. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Southern PA
    Disclosures:
    Bass Hobby'ist
    Hi Noah! :)

    Wow you are a lucky person…I think you have one of the rare elusive B-3 Epiphone basses…congratulations!!! I have yet to see a B-3 in person or for sale anywhere in the last three years…I don’t think Epiphone made too many of these basses.

    The serial number is '325' located under scroll on E-side.

    The location of your serial number on the E-side of the scroll indicates to me it is an early Epiphone most likely made in 1939 or 1940. All of the earliest Epi’s in my data base have the serial number in this location.

    The Epiphone badge is blank where the model should be.

    This too is not uncommon on the early basses, my best guess this is a B-3 model…Awesome!

    The tailpiece is a dark brown.

    Yep…that is correct too. The early B-1, B-2 and B-3 (I guess) all had the dark brown painted tail piece. The B-4 would have a clear finish and maple wood and the B-5 would be clear finish with highly flamed maple wood.

    The tuners are etched with little 'art deco' lines and are made of brass.
    The tuners are early Kluson tuners and the three ‘art deco’ lines are absolutely correct and just like my B-1 and B-2 Epi tuners. The early Kay basses used this same tuner with the three ‘art deco’ lines as well.

    The finish is a dark reddish-brown.

    This too falls right in line with the description of the early Epiphone B-3 basses as describe in George Gruhn’s book.

    Black/white/black purfling.

    This is the tale tell sign it is a B-3…a B-1 has one black pin stripe, a B-2 has two black pin stripes, now we know the B-3 has the B/W/B purfling without the loop and the early B-4 and B-5’s had the B/W/B purfling with the loop at the base of the neck

    This is a wonderful and important piece of information to add to my research. Thank you very, very much for posting. If we were closer I would drive to look at it in person…it is a rare find. Enjoy all your efforts and know the “Epiphone Bass Gods” have blessed you. I hope it sounds terrific and gives you many hours of enjoyment.

    Give it a hug from me…you lucky, lucky guy! :hyper::cool:
  18. Rebop

    Rebop

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Deerfield Beach, FL
    Thanks! This is the info I've been looking for. When I play a show in your area I'll give you a heads up so you can say hello to the bass. It goes wherever I do! ;)
  19. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Southern PA
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    Bass Hobby'ist
    I am glad I could help...and please understand I am no expert...just a very curious, persistent vintage American made plywood bass lover and Epi's just happen to be my favorite bass. :D

    When you get in these neck of the woods I would really enjoy seeing and hearing this bass. It so far is the ONLY B-3 in the data base amoung a sea of B-4's and B-5's...which Epiphone made way more 4's and 5's then B-1, B-2 or B-3's combined...at least that is what my research shows so far.

    Enjoy! :)
  20. jpl

    jpl

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
    What is the serial number and where was it located? Serial numbers can be located under the scroll head on the E side (look up), at the end of the finger board or at the end pin.
    [#732, under the scroll head on the E side]
    What is the model number? It can be located on the metal badge on the tail piece. Model numbers are B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5.
    [could not find metal badge]
    Is your tail piece black, dark brown, blonde or highly flamed maple?
    [Highly flamed maple with sort of an amber-ish nut that the strings rest on]
    What color is your bass?
    [blonde, or rather amber now with age]
    What finish are your tuners?
    [Brass]
    Are your tuners etched? This is so far only a B5 characteristic
    [Yes]
    Does the bass have real Black/White/Black purfling, single black pin stripe or double black pin stripe?
    [Black/White/Black]
    Does it have a purfling "loop" on the back of the bass below the neck?
    [Yes]
    Any guess as to what year the bass was made…and this is a guess.
    [1938?]
    Any other notable characteristics to the bass?
    [about 10 years ago, I had the original rosewood fingerboard replaced with a high quality ebony board;a new bridge cut for it, new Gotz endpin, and had 4 ebony feet installed on the side for when I lay the bass down]
  21. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Hey Molly-

    Here's something you'll be interested in: I found this out-of-print book in Bird's hometown of Kansas City, Bird: Legend of Charlie Parker. The picture is the last one in the book and has no info as to who the bassist is or anything else. It could be a little challenge to identify the Epi model and player. Enjoy.

    Ike

    Attached Files:


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