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1975 Gibson Ripper Fretless w/Maple Neck

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Brianvw, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. Brianvw

    Brianvw Supporting Member

    May 12, 2011
    Hi, All;

    I was hoping to find out more information about a beautiful bass I just lucked into.

    As you can tell from the topic title, it's a 1975 Gibson Ripper unlined fretless with a maple neck. At least I think it's a '75; the serial number starts with 99, so if I understand correctly, that means it was manufactured in 1975.

    I've not been able to find any other Rippers with unlined maple necks on the internet, so I'm looking for a resource that can give me more information. I'd love to know how many were made, and the current value.

    I found this link:

    The Gibson Ripper L-9S Bass Guitar

    But the shipping figures don't show any Ripper Fretless in natural finish in 1975.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    This is my first fretless, and I absolutely love this thing!

    I'll attach a couple of pics. You'll notice that a previous owner replaced the original Gibson bridge with a Badass bridge for some reason, then filled in the string holes. I'm looking for a 3 point bridge and grommets and will have my tech replace the Badass bridge and return it to string-through glory.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. Brianvw

    Brianvw Supporting Member

    May 12, 2011
    A couple more pics.
  3. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Nice score. Had a '76 fretless Ripper years ago. I think it was an ebony board though. One of the things I didn't like about it was the stock bridge. YMMV
  4. I remember those basses as I wanted one when they came out. Somehow the body seems refinished as that shade wasn't standard IIRC, it was the same natural tint as the maple neck. This appears darker unless I'm not seeing the photo correctly on my crappy screen :meh:

    Nice instrument, though :cool:. I agree w/the poster not caring for the 3 point bridge, the badass replacement was pretty common, but then it's a matter of whether or not you want to return it to it's original state.
  5. Jazzcat


    Jan 20, 2009
    Titusville, FL
    Congrats on the Ripper. There is a lot to like about them. I love their necks, their weight distribution, their oversized bodies with almost a chambered sound quality to them. I am sure you are digging yours.

    Yours looks like a refinish: The color is not a Gibson shade. The finish across the body is variable. Looking at your back, there are places along the top edges where it looks like the stain accumulated while drying.

    Your neck is a bit of a mystery because I have never heard of a maple fretless Gibson G Series bass. It’s tough to tell from the angle of your pics, but it looks like your neck does not stand as high off the body as a fretless Ripper. Look at mine below and you can see what I mean. My neck height above the body is 7/16” at the sides and a full 8/16” in the middle. The ebony fingerboard takes up about half that height.

    If your neck height is shorter than that, I would suspect that a luthier defretted a maple neck, and planed the neck height below the original fret grooves. Wah lah - Instant maple fretless fingerboard! They would have to lower the bridge to compensate, which possibly explains the change to a shorter Badass bridge. Just my theory. What do you think?

  6. Brianvw

    Brianvw Supporting Member

    May 12, 2011
    Wow, guys, great information...thanks!

    I hadn't even thought about it being a refinish. That would make sense.

    When i get home tonight I'm going to compare necks and see what we come up with. I've been baffled by the lack of unlined maple necks; I THINK that Ralphe Armstrong had one back in the days of the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

    I suppose I should try writing to Gibson to see if any models with maple necks were produced as well.

    I'll let you know what I find out tonight, and thanks again.
  7. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    well, i can tell that it's not the original finish, and IMO the theory about the original maple fretted neck being planed below the frets is probable. it would be easy to determine if you look at the side of the fingerboard. my fretted maple '75 ripper has very small red tort side dots and i would think that there would be evidence of them unless it was planed below them.
  8. Brianvw

    Brianvw Supporting Member

    May 12, 2011
    Thanks, John -- hadn't thought of that. I'll check it out tonight when I get home.

    BTW, I just checked out your builder's page. Nice stuff!

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