SOLD 1973 Gibson Les Paul Triumph bass

Discussion in 'For Sale: Bass Guitars' started by mellowgerman, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    United States

    After much debating, I have decided to put a "feeler" out there for this lovely Gibson Triumph. Thanks to the low-impedance pickups and unique electronics, this is one of the best sounding basses I've come across. The neck is also fantastic with top-notch playability and nice low action. That said, due to my lanky physique, tendency to slouch, and the fact that I'm totally used to the larger Guild Starfire body, this one is a little uncomfortable for me personally. I think most of my trouble comes from the small upper bout. I have the same issue with Fender Mustang basses, Hofner viola-types, and so on.

    So before you go and read through this entire novella of Triumph, I'm mostly looking for trade offers for other interesting short scale basses. I'd set trade value right around $2000, so I'd be interested in short-scale basses of similar value (or of lesser value + cash). As mentioned above, I'm avoiding particularly small bodies (specifically in the upper bout) as they tend to give me posture problems. I would consider any equal-to or larger-than SG style bodies. I have an Eastwood Newport bass for example and that one is perfectly comfortable for me.
    Though less likely, I might consider the right medium-scale bass and/or an electric guitar of lesser value + cash... I'm a sucker for Guilds (solid, semi, or hollow), Rickenbackers, and some Gibsons (Firebird, ES, and SG mainly), so feel free to try me.
    Not really looking for acoustic guitars, amps, pedals, or other gear at this time.
    A direct sale could be discussed as well if you don't have anything to offer in trade.
    Finally, the deal will have to be in the continental-US only. Due to a few horror stories I lived earlier this year, I am 100% done with international shipping on any deals of value, like this one. Of course, a local face-to-face deal in Central or Northeastern Florida would be amazing! Would be happy to drive a few hours to meet up too if it allowed us to cut out packing and shipping.


    So here we have a 1973 Gibson Les Paul Triumph bass, the top of the crop in the early 70's. As mentioned above, it sounds magnificent and truly plays effortlessly. Original hardshell case, chrome 3-point bridge, chrome bridge cover and the corresponding black plastic risers are all included. Everything functions as it is intended to with the only exception being a bit of scratchiness on the original passive treble and bass cut controls, but this hasn't bothered me since I just dial it in to my preference and play, set it and forget it. The bridge is a Hipshot Supertone bridge, which was designed to be a drop-in replacement for the clumsy old 3-point Gibson bridges. It allows for pin-pointed intonation and action adjustments for each string, as well as significantly more contact to the body of the bass. This mostly makes for superior setups, but also improves the resonance and sustain. Fun-fact, the original chrome bridge cover still fits over the Supertone bridge with its stock mounting screw holes, should you desire the more traditional look and/or the ability to use a foam mute underneath.

    The real magic of this bass is centered around the dual low-impedance humbuckers. There is a 2-position Hi/Lo impedance switch, which engages and bypasses the step-up transformer. The bypass/low-impedance setting is intended for plugging directly into the board (mainly for recording but works for running direct in live performance settings as well). The step-up transformer, when engaged in the Hi mode, gives you the same great low-impedance tone but at "normal" instrument output, with fantastic purity, big lows and crisp highs, that regular high-impedance pickups can't quite provide. This is the setting you would use when plugging into your amp as usual. There is also a 3-position switch which allows you to tap different levels of pickup windings; 1 being the brightest, 2 being a little more aggressive and fatter, 3 being the big mean dark tone. As for the knobs, you've got Volume, Bass-cut, and Treble-cut. These cut controls are most useful in the 2nd and especially the 3rd tone switch position, as they allow you to dial a whole spectrum of mid emphasis.
    The original creme-tipped 3-way selector switch (which is also included in the sale in case you want to go back to 100% stock wiring) was replaced with a potentiometer blend/pan setup.
    More about this -- since a 3-way selector only lets the player to select neck/both/bridge, this modification allows for a much broader variety of tones. The way it works: firstly the original phase switch was rewired as a 2-position neck/bridge selector. Then the 3-way selector switch was replaced with a no-load potentiometer (disengaged from circuit in the far "off" position to allow for unaffected soloed-pickup settings), which allows the player to blend in as much or little of the non-selected pickup as they like. Same idea as the Mojotone "Blender" control that they developed for Stratocasters, just at a much lower resistance to function properly with the low-impedance pickups. In regard to the sacrificed phase switch... not missing out on anything there! It was honestly useless and just resulted in a silly thin squawky tone. Again though, fully reversible should you chose to go back to original wiring spec.
    The rest of the electronics are completely stock.

    Cosmetically, the bass has definitely been played and played and played. It has dings and wear around the body. Most notably on the bass-side of the fretboard, you can see an area of heavy thumbnail wear, where a previous owner clearly rooted their thumb for countless hours of playing. There is also buckle-rash on the back and one notable, larger ding on the back edge near the back strap button, which is visible in the photos as well. The good news is that the neck is smooth and comfy, with nothing that hinders playability. The frets are the original, typical wide'n'flat frets of the era and still in great shape, allowing nice low action. Seems to me that this one wore flatwounds or tapewounds most of its life. The truss rod is also happy, healthy, and works as it should; there are no threads showing the top end of the nut, which would be a sign that it is close to "maxed out". So no worries there!

    Final note of interest, it was apparently celebrity-owned, by Gary Wilkins, who played with a number of big names. Who knows, this could have been the exact bass used on Naughty By Nature's hit single "O.P.P." It's certainly capable of nailing the tone he had on that recording. Note the old inscription on the case "property of Gary Wilkins"! More about Gary here: Gary Wilkins -Gary Wilkins Bass player and Bass Instructor

    Though my Starfire bass gets the vast majority of my attention and I don't play the Triumph much, I'm not in any hurry to get rid of it. Not hard-up for cash, nor in need of any specific gear, and I'm sure it will continue to increase in value, so I don't mind keeping it around.

    Now for some photos! I snapped these yesterday on my back deck. The glare from the sun made the wood-grain a little hard to see at times, so I included the final indoor image of the body so you can see that pretty mahogany pop a little.

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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  2. braud357


    Jul 1, 2010
    Gonzales, LA
    I bought one of these new in Dec. 1973. It did sound great, but I had trouble adapting to the short scale. I traded it for a brand-new Jazz Bass !
    mellowgerman likes this.
  3. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    I had two of these. One of which the neck warped badly on but that was probably due to me being stupid 30 years ago. Put long scale heavy gauge Rotosounds on it and tried to adjust the truss rod!! I really like your electronics mod. Great idea. Weight? Mine were about 10 lbs.
  4. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    I don't have a scale, but I would say this one is around 10 lbs too. There was no weight-relief chambering going on at Gibson in those days, so it is a little on the hefty side for sure. Just a part of being a Les Paul!
  5. Green Knight

    Green Knight Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2016
    Ooh wish I knew about these when this post went up!