Gibson vs. Epiphone Explorer

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Metal Mitch, Oct 20, 2003.

  1. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Anybody know the deal on the old Gibson Explorer basses? What are the differences between the original Gibson and the new Epiphone?

    I tried an Epi and really liked the neck, but the pickups sounded too "soft" and nasaly when soloed. IMO the center position with both pickups on was the only usable sound. Maybe the Epi's sound could be made more aggressive with a pickup replacement. My old EB-3 had a much more aggressive sound than the Epi Explorer, so I'm really wondering if I would like the Gibson better.
  2. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    you definitely would... but bear in mind you are comparing £250 basses and £1500 basses... which isnt really a fair comparison is it?
  3. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i have a eb-3 epi now..but its the is really nice...usa pups and go with one of those

  4. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Well, to quote the words of the immortal Homer J. Simpson - DOH!!! :eek: I had no idea they were priced that high... but I'd still like to find info on them, the only thing I've found so far was one review on harmony central. It said it was neck-thru with alder body sides, is that right?
  5. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    it depends how much you are willing to spend....
    my elite new from musician friend is $949 the gibson is around $1500......then there is some epis that are $250

  6. I didn't even know they made a new explorer. if you go vintage hunting you can pay up to $2000 for an origonal one. made back in the 60's or 70's
  7. Epiphone Explorer Bass
    List Price: $729.00


    Korina wood body in a choice of finishes!

    One of the coolest body styles of all time. And it comes armed and ready to rock with 2 special bass humbuckers that give it fat tone with no noise, gorgeous gold hardware, and a set mahogany neck for greater sustain and resonance. Its body is korina -- a superb tone wood. Rosewood fingerboard. 34" scale.

    As posted already, the original Gibson Explorer basses are well in the thousands!

  8. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Nice pic Treena. :D

    Finally found something on the Gibson website, here's a valuable link -

    and from the "Gibson Electric Guitar Descriptions" -

    "EXPLORER BASS - radical offset hourglass alder body, maple neck, 21 fret rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay, fixed bridge, blackface peghead with logo decal, 4 on one side tuners, chrome hardware, 2 humbucker pickups, 2 volume/1 tone controls. Available in Ebony and Ivory finishes. Mfd. 1984 to 1987."

    This is the one I'm looking at, the reference guide doesn't mention any earlier Explorer basses. So it's not that old, hardly a "vintage" instrument although maybe a "collectible" since they aren't made anymore. Anybody got a blue book? ;)

    Now I'm thinking the Gibson maple neck/alder body would sound a lot like a P-bass (same woods), and brighter than the Epi mahogany neck with korina body. Wish I could get my hands on one and just plug it in to see what it sounds like... I don't know much about korina. But since Gibson only used it for the Explorer guitars and not the basses, maybe it's not as good a tone wood for bass as it is for guitar? Does anybody else use korina for bass?
  9. Metal Mitch..........hey great article, thanks for the link!

  10. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    I had my eye on a black '84 Explorer on ebay this week... bit the bullet and watched it get away for $1025 :meh:
  11. Thats a good price! Sorry it got away from ya!

  12. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    Beg to differ with some of you here.

    Explorer basses weren't made in the 60s or 70s. They were made only in the mid 80s, although I've heard of a one-off in korina being made a few years earlier.

    They were set neck, not neck through. At least some of them were mahogany body and neck like the Explorer guitars.

    They aren't worth in the thousands. $1,025 would be unusually high. Dave's Guitar Shop just recently sold one for about $750, and another recently sold on eBay for $611

    The Epi Explorer has the same body shape, but it has very little in common with the real thing -- certainly not the same tone or quality of construction.
  13. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Thanks for the post DW. I figured $1025 was a bit high, I was thinking $800 tops for one in mint condition. And I agree 100% about the Epi - it reeks of "cheepnis" (to quote FZ).
  14. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    Mitch, check your Private Messages.
  15. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    Here is my 85 Gibson Explorer, with Ebony board.
    This Bass has more tone that any of my other's.
    It is really a sweet Bass. I saw a blue one
    like this ina local used Music store a few years
    ago it, they were asking $650 but did not have the
    ohsc. The case that came with mine is form fitted
    so it would be very important to buy one with the ohsc. They really play & sound great.
  16. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
  17. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Wow, that Korina piece looks... unattractive. :D

    And banjo tuner to boot!

    NV, the red looks pretty nice. You saw a blue one too? And Gibson says they only made Ebony and Ivory...

    Found a black one in GC today tagged $1199 "mint". After laughing at them I checked it out. It played just ok, not bad but not great either. And didn't have the deep Gibson tone I expected. Couldn't get a good angle of attack sitting down, had to grab a strap and pull it out to maximum length (which was still too short), and even then the natural thumb anchor position was over the bridge pickup instead of the neck. That's a bad thing in my book!

    Then I checked out the detail - somebody had painted over the pickup mounting brackets, screws, and pickup covers, you could even see the rust bubbling up underneath. And one of the mounting bracket screws was almost sideways. The electronics cavity cover was missing a screw, dented and had also been repainted. And the original black knobs had been replaced with "gold". When I pointed out all these flaws the guy agreed it wasn't "mint" but wouldn't go any lower than $1050. What kind of idiots do they have buying and pricing at this place? I offered him $600 but now that I think about it I probably shouldn't have gone any higher than 5 for that butcher job. Who knows, the pickups may not even have been original.

    Since this is the first actual Gibson Explorer I've been able to lay my hands on, I hate to think I'd let a "bad apple" give me a rancid first impression. But that Jackson KBX is looking a lot better to me now... faster neck, Duncan pups and even cheaper than the Epiphone. I'll still have to check out the sound and balance, but who knows when I'll stumble across another Gibson.

    Thx for the pics and replies!
  18. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    Quote: NV, the red looks pretty nice. You saw a blue one too? And Gibson says they only made Ebony and Ivory...

    Thanx,The blue one I saw was at a very reputable
    local Guitar shop,It was definetly the original
    color,cause the owner pulled the cavity cover
    and it was all original paint. He was certain
    it was not a re-paint. The weird thing was about
    a year later we were recording in a small local
    studio that we use, and the owner asked me if
    I needed a case for my Explorer ? he showed me
    a case identical to mine. It had to be from that
    blue one. I told him I had an ohsc, but thanx for asking, and then asked where it came from. He had
    no idea he found it way in the back of the storage
    area all dusty, and he said he got all exited for a second til he found it was empty. the next time
    I stopped in the Guitar store I asked the owner
    whatever happened to the Blue Explorer cause I
    know where there is a ohsc, he said he traded it
    in a package deal with a dealer.
  19. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Hey, NV, I have the twin to your bass! I picked mine up used, in mint condition, for $385 (with hardshell case) in the mid 90's. I considered it a steal at the time, and I still do. I bought it primarily to use as a backup for my Thunderbird. Tonally, the Explorer is deeper than the T-bird, but doesn't have the same low-mid authority. It is a great playing bass, but very different from the Thunderbird. It is 32" scale, versus the T-bird's 34.5", and the neck is quite thick, versus the extremely thin Thunderbird neck.

    Metal Mitch, the one that you played should not be used as a measuring stick for other Gibson Explorers. They should have gobs of that "deep Gibson tone."

    My advice would be to keep searching for a good deal on the real thing (Gibson), and avoid the Epi version. In the long run, you'll be thankful.

  20. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    It is a 32" ? Mine is 34" I did not know they
    made one in a med scale ? of course they say they
    only came in black or white, so I dont even think
    these companies know what they put out. mine has
    tons of deep bottom end, Funky mids, and super
    crisp highs. I use the DR High Beams steel 45-105.
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