Modifying a Gibson EB-0 - adding a brighter pickup

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rhinceros, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Hey guys

    I've been a Jazz bass player for years but just got hold of a beautiful 1969 Gibson EB-0. It's lovely to play and the humbucker-the-size-of-your-face gives unlimited low end, but I do miss the Jazz Bass's presence/definition a bit. I just did a quick side by side test with the EB-0, an American Jazz Bass and a 70s Fender Music Master, and fortunately I found that I do like the EB-0 most of all. Next to the Gibson, the Jazz Bass actually sounds thin, even with the S-1 switch activated, and the Music Master doesn't compare well to either as it lacks both the brightness of the Jazz and the thunder of the EB-0... it is very playable though.

    It got me thinking that in theory if I got a nice Jazz Bass (or similar) pickup at the middle or bridge position on the EB-0, I could have exactly the sound I wanted.

    What do people think - is this worth doing or would it just devalue a nice old bass? I would pay over the odds for an especially good job, of course, but maybe I should just save up to have a Jazz Bass as well as the Gibson if that's the sound I sometimes want?

    Looking at the Gibson, I wonder if a pretty non-destructive option would be to have the additional pickup installed towards the bottom of the scratch plate (maybe get a new scratch plate and keep the original one safe), that way any wires could be routed straight into the section beneath the plate to minimise any drilling/routing to the body itself. I wonder if the pickup could even be fixed without drilling the body? And maybe a mini knob at the bottom right corner of the scratch plate itself, either a volume for the jazz pickup or a blend... could be very cool.

    I'd be very grateful for any thoughts or advice!

    Attached Files:

  2. T-Bird

    T-Bird Guest


    An Alumitone pickup would be the only one I could even dream of putting into a vintage bass like that, but AFAIK, they don't do flat ones, just replacements.

    It's a proximity sensor though, so getting someone to make one for You wouldn't be that difficult I'd gues.

  3. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Dude! Seriously?

    DO NOT eff that bass up.

    That...would be a crime. IMHO
  4. pgolliher


    Apr 27, 2010
    Santa Cruz, CA
    +1. I have modded all of my fender basses, so I am being a bit of a hypocrite. But, those Gibsons do the low end thing so well I wouldn't mess with it. You might lose the magic. - it would be good to keep for recording project- sometimes a song needs that bottom.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
  6. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    I think i remember a Lace pickup that is thin enough to slip under the strings. Something like that might be cool. Don't cut that bass!
  7. I put a Dimarzio Model One in mine (a current model SG). They are supposed to be a drop in, but a had to hack a bit of mahogany with a chisel to get it to fit. I also added a series/parallel switch for it.

    The tone is still far from what I would call bright, but it it leaps and bounds ahead of the standard mudbucker. I did have plans to put a second Model One in as a replacement for the bridge pickup, but the existing pickup is wider than a model one, and it just wouldn't have looked neat

  8. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
  9. Definitely

    Definitely Inactive

    1969 EB-0. New pickup = irreversible routing of the body. DON'T DO IT!!!! Get a new one and stick it in if you want, but don't mess around with the '69.
  10. Epidrake

    Epidrake Guest

    May 24, 2011
    Please don't do it. Put super bright strings on her if you want a brighter sound. Sell it to someone who really wants it and buy something you want.
  11. Definitely not a good idea.
    Get one of the cheap epiphone eb-0's if you have your heart set on doing this
  12. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
  13. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I don't question Curtis' claim it's an excellent pickup - the man definitely delivers if his other pickups are any measure. But, he claims "...[it's] actually a humbucker unlike the original Mudbucker", which does make me wonder. :eyebrow: The original mudbucker is a humbucker, unless it's badly wired.

    That said, that one or the Model One'd do you best. Adding any other pickup would probably spell disaster for the sound, as the MB is a very high impedance pickup (on the order of 30 kΩ) and mixing that with a regular J pickup (closer to 7 or 8 kΩ) will make it lose a lot of its oomph.

    If you want to, and your pickup has four wires (or you're willing to open the pickup's cover, snoop around and find all four wires the pickup internally has), you can try wiring it in parallel for a cleaner, less wooly sound. Your best option, then, would be making one of your pots a push/push or a push/pull, and wiring the pickup's four wires to it so it switches between the wooly (series) and clean (parallel) sound.
  14. Maybe that'd be the best thing to do, that's what the Fender S-1 switch does right?
  15. josiah goldfish

    josiah goldfish Guest

    Jan 10, 2012
    E.Sussex UK
    Don't do it! By all means, buy a cheap epiphone eb-0 and butcher it til your heart's content, but please don't change anything about this one! It's awesome!
  16. I agree. Replacement PU is the best option.
  17. eb3mike


    Nov 5, 2010
  18. While that Novak pickup totally blew my mind, there's only so much tone you can expect in from a pickup located where it is. I'm guessing looking at mine now, and at a guess the pickup is only 8 inches from the 12th fret, on a 30.5 inch scale. It misses out on a lot of the harmonics.

    While mine is not a '69, the principals are the same.

    I did put a series/parallel switch on the factory pickup, and while the tone was an improvement on factory in the parallel position, the swap to a Model One was the easy ticket (especially since I had one lying around), and sounded a lot better.

    OP check Dimarzio's website - they have pckup dimensions. It may well be that you wouldn't have to hack the body to get one in your bass, and I think the pickups can be had for 80 bucks or so. Screw holes are in the exact some location.