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Gibson EB-2 as a beginner's bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nielsa, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. Hi, I'm a rookie at this, as I'm going to buy my very fist bass guitar. I have noticed that Gibson basses don't seem to be too popular. Why?

    As a blues man I like Gibson guitars, why I thought my first bass should be the nice cherry red '65 EB-2, that I have seen in a local guitar shop. I like the feel of it. Further, it has a good balance and it's light. More light than a P-bass. Is it a bad choice for a beginner?

    /Niels A.
  2. if you like the feel of it, i'd be jumping on that one!

    Nothing wrong with an EB-2, just make sure you put heavy gauge strings on (.050-.110) since its a short scale...


    (a blonde '60 EB-2)
  3. My first bass was an EB-2D, wayyyy back in '67.

    However, I would advise you to start with a Fender Precision or Jazz type bass with a 34" scale, unless you have very small hands. Leo Fender's designs for these has really stood the test of time, and they are still the standard after 40+ years.

    You will experience a lot more clarity and versatility of tone, and you will not have to readjust to a longer neck at a later date. If you are used to a 34" scale neck, the switch to a short scale bass is easy, but not visa-versa.

    P.S. I have a nice EB-2 in the closet, bought at a local pawnshop for old memories (I should never have let go of the old one). I remember my old one as having sounded great, but when I play one now my wife (who usually never comments on bass tone) will ask me why she can't hear the notes clearly. They are pretty muddy, but great for certain styles.

    Have fun, & Aloha,

  4. fremenblue


    Jan 8, 2003
    Eugene, Or.
    If you really have your heart set on that era of Gibson, consider an EB-3. Listen to the ORIGINAL (not lately remastered with new musicians) Ozzy Osbourne--Blizzard of Ozz. Bob Daisley recorded that on an EB-3, according to his website.

  5. Thanks for the inputs...

    Nice blonde, Rockandroller. Is she yours? If I ever meet a mint '58 - '60 blond EB-2, I might buy it too. At present I use polished D'Addario E-series Chromes in .045 - .100. I will try the heavy gauge strings at the next change.

    Yes, Mr. Starr, I'm am quite small and my fingers are proportionately short. Further, I play guitar as well (also at beginner level) and it seems to me like the short scale and the smaller frets is more guitar like and therefore easier to adopt. I have guitar class on Tuesdays and bass class on Wednesdays, so it is a lot of shifting... :)

    Fremenblue, an EB-0 or EB-3 was on my wish list from the beginning, as I like the shape! But I live in small country with a insignificant music tradition, so the amount of used basses is low and I don't want to buy so expensive things on the web. I would like to see it (and try it) before buying. Anyway, the EB-2 was available and now she is mine... BTW: She wasn't cherry red as I thought, but vintage sunburst (attached).

    I spoke to a very competent local bass player, Michael Friis, in the weekend (I was there as a photographer) and his opinion was that Gibson never had made anything bad, but Fender's is what you are using. Why is Gibson's so unpopular among bass players?

    Greetings from Copenhagen...

    /Niels A.
  6. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    They look OK, I guess...as long as you don't have to play 'em! I dumped the only one I ever owned a long time ago, a '67. Pure mud for tone and the thing wasn't great for intonation up past about the 7th fret, either. Narrow, baseball bat-like neck and short scale. The only thing they coulda done to make it worse was to put spikes on it where you rest your arm, I guess! I really dislike 'em. Can you tell? ;)

    Actually, Jonathan's post is pretty even-handed with good advice.

    Gibson guitars, si; Gibson basses, no. OTOH, the Thunderbird does have a great sound and works for certain styles...and the old Les Paul Signature was an interesting bass. Just ask Jack Casady.
  7. fremenblue


    Jan 8, 2003
    Eugene, Or.
    Nielsa, I've definitely got nothing against Gibson basses. Some of my favorite rock stuff was either done on a Gibson or with a Fender P and an added-on Gibson EB pickup. I own a Thunderbird which is a pure rock n' roll machine, I love that bass! I hope the EB-2 works out for you well.

  8. EB2s look great, are fun to play and sound dreadful.

    If you are a blues guy, get a Fender.

    If you HAVE to get a Gibson, make it a Thunderbird.
  9. fremenblue


    Jan 8, 2003
    Eugene, Or.
    Gibson EB + Fender P + Rock n' Roll Mojo= Yamaha Attitude

  10. Good luck and have a lot of fun with the new EB-2, Niels.

    Please post a photo if you can. My first one was a sunburst, and I loved everything about it.

    Gibson makes fine instruments, and the mid sixties was their golden era.

    Best Aloha from Maui,

  11. There are 3 reasons that Gibson basses were never really that popular according to Tony Bacon, author of, "The Ultimate Guitar Book."

    Not word for word, but, the reasons were:

    1) The use of Humbucking pickups. The old ones cancelled most of the highs and many were positioned right at the end of the neck. You would get maximum bass out of the pickup, but, when turned up loud, they sounded like mud.
    2) The use of the short scale. Gibson did this supposedly to make it easier for guitarists to double on bass. Not the best idea for tone.
    3) The use (from the factory) of flatwound strings.
    Flats themselves aren't that bad, but, when you add them to the first two, you get pure mud.

    I have always criticized Gibson (in my mind) for not following through on many of their ideas. Often, they would come out with a new product that had some bugs in it or was too radical, produce them for a few years and then just abandon them. I know you can't keep producing products that lose money, but, they never seemed to learn!

    Examples: RD series basses, Ripper, G-3, Grabber, Victory bass. I can't think of any more right now, but, you'd think a Company that makes guitars, mandolins and banjos of such high quality would take stock of all their bass failures and really try to think what would make their next one NOT fail. I also think that out of pride, they would never dare to make anything that resembled a Fender too closely. I also think that their engineers may have focused too much on what would make a fine instrument, and not on what would make a fun instrument.

    End rant. :)

  12. fremenblue


    Jan 8, 2003
    Eugene, Or.
    MJ, you bring up some good points. That is why I think the Gibson EB pickups have found another life in longer scale basses using roundwound strings, and with more eq capability both onboard and at the rack so you can get as much as you want without gettin' too much. That also explains why their "freak accident" Thunderbird worked so well--with a longer scale and especially once the roundwounds came into play, this baby blazes!

  13. I own a '67 EB-2DC that I have had since 1972. It was my first "real" bass. I talked my parents into trading in my string bass for an electric, and the local music store had only 2 basses the day we went in - a Fender 5 (high c, very short neck) and the cherry EB-2. The choice was easy and it was my only bass for 8 years. I suppose that was the unconscious beginning of my quest to be different from other bass players, though I have finally realized that we are all much more alike than different .

    The fact that it has a additional bridge p/u (kind of unusual) makes it possible to get a little bit of top end to go with the "Big Muddy" neck pickup. After I moved to Nashville, I put it away for many years, but had it restored and rediscovered it a few years ago. Now I use it for Hofner/Guild type tones and fell in love with it all over again.

    As far as Gibson Basses in general, it is true that they are never the standard that Fenders became, but they have their strengths - a fast neck and warm, fat tone. The Thunderbird is probably the closest thing to a "real bass" they made. I have a matched pair of gold T-Birds that I love to play - somehow they always make you feel like a rock god (or goddess).

    Sorry to ramble - the mere mention of an EB-2 set me off. Enjoy your new axe!

    Dave Pomeroy
  14. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    I always thought that Daisley's tone on the Blizzard of Oz album was KILLER. I've got a '69 EB-3 but have never been able to get that sound. When I use both pickups the sound gets really thin; with just the neck pickup, the sound is mud.:(
  15. I personally have never played a Gibson bass than I have liked.

    Here's the way I personally would put it in the 50's, when electric bass was still in its infant stages:

    Gibson made basses for guitar players; Fender made basses for bass players.

    Not necessarly the truth now, but the idea IMO might have been true then.


    Nov 10, 2002
    Las Vegas
    I've got a '69 EB-3 and a '74 EB-3L. I've had the EB-3 since it was new (you know, the Jack Bruce days), it plays very fast and easy and I still enjoy playing it for certain kinds of music but I must admit that I've evolved into playing mostly standard scale basses. They just feel better! By the way, I've always been attracted to an EB-2 but I've never played one. They appear to be similar to an Epiphone Jack Cassady bass?
  17. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    nielsa - congratulations on your purchase! I have a '69 cherry red EB-2, and I think it is a great bass. I disagree with the comments declaring their tone to be simply "mud" - it's actually a really powerful clear BASS sound - no highs or midrange, but for certain kinds of music it's perfect! If you want a modern roundwound sound then of course it's not the right bass, but if you want BASS then put flatwounds on it (if it doesn't have them already) and enjoy making everything around you vibrate.

    One thing that noone has pointed out is the incredible output of the humbucking pickup - it must be 2-4 times as loud as a regular Fender P pickup - played through the right tube distortion unit you can get some really thick creamy fuzz.
  18. fremenblue


    Jan 8, 2003
    Eugene, Or.
    The other half of that sound, according to Bob, is that he played through one of Randy's 100 watt Marshall amps and a 4x12 cab.

    I wonder if perhaps your pickups are simply due a rewind or. .. .? I have no idea, honestly, just throwin' ideas out.

  19. Hey Dave P, good to see you at Talkbass. I saw that photo of you at your site in '78 holding that RD. Was that an Artist or a standard? I almost bought a black RD Artist in '78 - one of my biggest bass regrets. That compression/expansion feature was way ahead of its time and one of the things I get so mad at Gibson for, for dropping from their line much too quickly.

    Since we're talking Gibby types here, what do you think of the Epi Jack Casady? I've had mine two years and love it! Now this is what a bass should sound like!

    Fremenblue, I agree with you about humbuckers. They may have had a rocky start in basses, but now, this is the sound I prefer. Single coil hum drives me up the wall; no time for it.

    Good weekend guys.

    See you Monday.

  20. i tried a used gibson thunderbird and thought it was fantastic. oddly enough it was the closest thing i've ever heard to my rumblefish in series setting. didn't play as well though. ;)