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Ampeg AUB-1 "Danko Bass" to trade?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by DonnieC, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. DonnieC


    Apr 19, 2007
    I'm looking (and have been looking for years) for a 1960's ampeg AUB-1 fretless bass. You might remember it from early pictures of The Band as Rick Danko's weird looking bass with the scroll head on it. It was (apparently) the first fretless bass guitar and seems to be even rarer than I thought.

    I play in a 9 piece rock band and play both URB and bass guitar but it is getting to be too much to carry around. I think the AUB1 might be the middle ground (in terms of sound) I'm looking for.

    I'd be willing to trade my current upright bass (Czech plywood top with Biesele pickup) and electric bass (Fender jazz) for one of these old AUBs.

    Does anyone (or anyone who knows anyone) care to lend some info on where I can find one?

  2. If you don't mind having one without the 'Ampeg' logo, check out the improved versions that Bruce Johnson makes, more versatile and keeps the origional look and sound: http://www.xstrange.com/
  3. DonnieC


    Apr 19, 2007
    Interesting. I'm comforted knowing that Ampeg actually lent their name to the instruments for two years. Do you own one? How do they sound? I appreciate that players would want more versatility in the instrument, however I'm most interested in the original low sustain thump from the 60's. I'll certainly look into this some more.

  4. BPeder


    Oct 30, 2007
    Minnetonka, MN
    Hi Donnie, mine is #371, and I bought it in Minneapolis at "The Knute Koupee" for $300.00. Like you, I had no idea how few of them were made and I have a lot more respect for it as a collectors instrument than I did all those years ago. Man I had that thing on the road for years with a rock and roll, rockabilly revue where that fat thump tone sounded dead to rights.

    This was back in the 80s when I could not find the extra long string sets that bass needs, so I set up a system of bolts and turnbuckles so I could use regular strings. Black tape wound LaBellas sound great on this bass. The link to Bruce Johnson's site was straight on. That is your best bet for finding out more about these critters.

    The discussion of the height adjustment up/down on the block of metal in the tailpiece affecting the tone of the mystery pup is spot on. It's all about how much downward string pressure you are getting from the bridge to the plate in the top of the pup.

    I don't know how many of these instruments turn up these days. If you find one, buy it. Hopefully the pick guard will be in good shape. Interestingly, that is the most difficult thing to replace when they restore them. That thick, three layer bakelite material is no longer made. Good luck friend, I hope you find one, but take extra good care of it if you bring it into the trenches.
  5. A very early AEB-1 with a Danko-like conversion (P-bass pickup and bridge sold on e-bay for $1925-plus-shipping, and an AMB-1 sold a month or two ago (also e-bay) for about $3,200. It's worth searching e-bay now and then for "Ampeg Scroll Bass"-- once in a long while, there's one on auction!

    Expect to pay at least $1500... other people are looking too...

    My AUB-1 has a Bill Lawrence pickup added right by the neck (by a previous owner), and a 3-way selector switch to choose between the new pickup, the original "mystery" pickup, or both. I have both pickups selected most of the time. Even with only the added pickup selected, there is a sort of "boingy" tome, since the bridge is resting on a thin sheet of metal.

    The sound is kind of like the look-- "you may think it's beautiful, you may think it's ugly, but you won't confuse it with any other bass" (quoting Bruce J.).

    My favorite trick with the "mystery pickup" is on the occasional lead, to select that pickup alone, and turn the treble all the way up (I usually have it rolled off to about 20%). It sounds sort of like a cumbus (Turkish) or a sarod (Indian)-- exotic and evocative of the 60's. Great sound to combine with a sitar and maybe an electric 12-string. Add patchouli oil, and YOU ARE THERE.....
  6. mystery pup

    mystery pup

    May 31, 2008
    I recently bought the AEB-1 with the Bad Ass Bridge and p-bass pups on eBay for $1925. :hyper: I have discussed this bass with Bruce Johnson and it turns out to be a prototype built in June 1966. He places it's serial number in the 030's. Since the tailpiece was removed during the mod, we will never know the actual number.

    Bruce puts the value at $3,000 with the mods. It is in very good shape. It doesn't suffer from the paint deterioration of the production Ampegs.

    It plays well with decent action. The intonation is dead on. The only problem is a buzz at the 12th fret of the A string.

    I am not comfortable touching the truss rod. I could just adjust the saddle on the A string but I want Bruce to look at it. So, I will probably ship it to Bruce for a good set-up. I will probably also replace the p-bass pups with a better set.

    I had been looking since 1970. I have bid on many that have come up on eBay but have always dropped out when they hit $2,000.

    This time it went my way. I couldn't be happier. :bassist:

    Good luck on your search.


    Attached Files:

  7. Folded Horn

    Folded Horn Banned

    Aug 29, 2013
    My AEB is a 67 -refinished back otherwise all original. Fantastic sound with treble rolled right off, with tone up full it is an uncontrollable beast amp killer. Very cool under a follow spot on a big stage.

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