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Mustang or EB-3?

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by kehs, May 16, 2003.

  1. Hi Mike--

    You've been a great asset to this forum. I did a search on the Mustang and the EB-3 in your forum. I'm trying to decide between the two. I have a Squier P-Bass which I enjoy but I'm short and have small hands and I'm finding the long scale to be tiring. I've been thinking about the EB-3 because I like lots of bottom, but it seems that very few like the tone. You mentioned the Mustang being more punchy--does that mean more trebly? I tried it a while ago when I first started and it didn't seem to grab my attention. Maybe the EB-3 will? I know it'll be up to my ears but I wanted to get your input.

  2. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    now my mid-60s gibson eb-3 isn't like a regular one from that time - it's got a bartolini preamp and three band eq. also, I changed the pickup selector switch into a pickup balance control. the bridge is made by badass and the neck pickup by dimarzio.

    the fender mustang bass I have is stock and from last summer (2002), a reissue.

    I like both basses. it's harder to get on the higher frets on the 'stang than the eb-3 and there's even one less (what's that about!). the nut is thinner on the 'stang (where the strings touch the body just before the headstock, it has slots to hold each string, just behind the frist fret) so it's about like the same proportion of the fender jazz ('stang) and the fender precision (eb-3) and their nut width. the sounds are pretty different. the 'stang has one pickup where it would be on a fender-p where the eb-3 has one closet to the bridge and one closer to the neck - no pickup is where the 'stang is. this is a sweet spot and I feel it missing on the eb-3 and try to compensate w/the balance control. I'm think of putting a pickup in this place maybe.

    I like both my little basses! I think the eb-3 can cut through the drums better and that's what I use in my current power-tro, the secondmen. I used the bass darrin huff made me, which is fantastic but the sound doesn't project enough for my guys in that band and they had me go back. it sounds more like some of these contemporary basses w/the deep lows and bright highs sound - not really the midrange 'honk' the little gibson has.

    bottom line for you though is that you should try out both basses and see what you like. it's hard to find one old like my eb-3 and I don't know anything about the more recent re-issues. them being little makes them fun to play but the sound is kind of limited stock, in my opinion - too much woof/mud. the fender 'stang has a much more dynamic in it's sound. I've record a couple of songs w/thurston on my pro tools/mac setup in my pad (thunderpants) and the 'stang sounded good. live, I've found it not hard charging enough but I like it when I do dos except for that stuff w/the high notes and dos does have some of that! the sound is a little tame for me when I'm w/drums live.

    just my thoughts, hope maybe they can help some.

    on bass, watt

  3. Mike, thanks a ton--that helps. Now I'm going to find an EB-3 to try out!
  4. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    I forgot to say that the brown 70s eb-3 models are much different than the 60s ones like I have. the have the neck pickup moved, full-scale 3-piece necks and the body is made thicker. I've played a few and don't really like them at all. don't know about these reissued epiphone ones though. someone told me they are styled after the 60s ones but have a bolt-on neck? whoa.

    maybe ebay might be a good resource to find an older one? don't pay too much though!

    on bass, watt

  5. Marsh


    Mar 15, 2002
    Hayward, CA
    Hey, all!

    Definitely check out the Epiphone EB-3's if yer into that vibe.

    Mine's RAD!!! Easy to play, great sound, and usable electronics! Less muddy than the shortys cuz of the long scale, me thinks... Lots of usable tones from the sidewinder pickup and mini humbucker...

    Some things: It's got a long scale, 3 point bridge and a set neck. Also, the next is thin; like a jazz bass/gibson les paul bass.

    At 4 bills at the ****ar Scenter, it was a steal of sorts...

    'Course, I'd never have thought of 'em if it weren't for Watt... Much Respect, brother!

    Wish I could make it out to S.F. on the 7th, Watt. It's a gig night for us, though... We'll swap spirits, though... Yers at my gig, and mine at yers... All right!!!

    Take care, bass brothers!!!

  6. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    good luck on you gig - thanks for the spirit swap!

    one main reason I play my eb-3 is the short scale, my fingers get too hurt on tour from playing every night.

    glad the epiphone works good for you! set neck = glued-on neck, right - not bolted on like a fender?

    on bass, watt

  7. Marsh


    Mar 15, 2002
    Hayward, CA
    Hey, you're welcome for the spirit swap, brother! And thank you for the wishes of well.

    I remember readin' 'bout yer hands hurtin' in the diaries a few years ago, and I completely see why you'd switch to the short scale... It's completely reasonable, I think.

    Also, the neck on my bass is glued on. It really is a nice bass. I lucked out. (might still stick a dimarzio pick up, a preamp, and a badass on it someday, though... Ha, ha)

    Safe seas to ya, Watt.


  8. Hey Watt,

    Just saw ya here in Chicago and you did great. The sound guys had you going thru direct so the sound was nearly w/out mudd. To add to this thread, I play a Gretsch Junior Jett (only about a year old. These are great, inexpensive basses w/the pickup right in the "sweet spot". Very sturdy. I used to play a 75' Gibson Ripper which has a huge neck. Altho I am a big guy, my hands are small and would cramp easily. It has the shape of a Les paul (I actually use a les paul guitar case for it-fits perfectly). It has a nice puncy sound. For a short-scale it sounds an awful lot like a long-scale. I tried out a few other shorties before I got this one. The playability was faster than the others. Hope this helps. I know I sound like a Gretsch commercial but I just wanted you to know that there was an alternative to Gibson and Fender.
    Much Love Watt! Come back to Chicago soon!!!

    The Obvious Mr. Fuller
  9. Hi Y'all,

    Just thought I'd suggest another great short-scale bass -- the Ampeg Dan Armstrong.

    The original Dan Armstrongs were made in the 60s and 70s and were made of lucite (a clear plastic). They look pretty cool and from what I've heard they sound great too. There's usually a couple of them on e-bay at any given time, but they can be kinda pricey.

    I bought an Ampeg re-issue of the Dan Armstrong a couple of years back (alder body instead of lucite) with a Seymour Duncan Basslines soapbar pickup in it and I have to say it's great! It's got a lot of mid-range "honk" to it as well as some serious low-end and is very easy on the hands. Unfortunately, Ampeg discontinued them in 2001, however, you can pick 'em up on e-bay pretty cheap ($400 - $600).

    BTW Mike, do you have any plans to come back to Ottawa, Canada soon? A band I used to play in opened for the Pair of Pliers at Zaphod's 2 in 2000, and you guys tore the roof off!

    Best wishes to you Mr. Watt,
  10. brock29609

    brock29609 4 strings, 2 wheels

    May 11, 2003
    Greenville, SC
    I think medium scale basses are a good compromise between tone and playability. Have you looked into the Fender Urge basses? At 32", they're 2" shorter than long scale and 2" longer than short scale.

    Link to Medium Scale Bass
  11. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    haven't tried one of those but I like the eb-3 and 'stang scales. I full-sized 60s thunderbird and 50s p-bass for recording sitting down. I did play the t-bird at the stooges reunion cuz my eb-3 was w/my guys in north carolina, waiting for me to rejoin them on tour (I flew back to cali to do the stooges gig).

    maybe I should try this bass and see what's up, huh?

    on bass, watt

  12. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    I'd like to try one of these too. is it the same model geezer's playing on the inside of "volume four" (black sabbath)? I've seen some but never have played one... wild! what's the neck scale (in inches, nut to bridge)?

    I'll play your town again, I promise.

    on bass, watt

  13. Hi Mr. Watt,

    Yeah, it's the same one Geezer played... I think the guy in Thin Lizzy played it for a while too.

    The scale is 30" and my re-issue has 24 frets (not sure about the originals), so the spacing is pretty small and easy to play. The only drawback is that the E string can be a little muddy, but I try and fight it with EQ and by playing closer to the bridge - right over the pickup.

    I'm going to hold you to your promise. Let me know if you need any help setting up a gig, promotion, postering, etc. !

  14. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    thanks for the info, would love to check one of those out. I will play your town sometime in the next upcomming tours, I promise.

    on bass, watt

  15. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mike, I own a '63 Eb3 with all original hardware, pickups and case I purchased in '75. It is in excellent condition.

    You apparently are well aware of the drawbacks, as well as the high points of playing this instrument.

    About 10-12 years ago, I was toying with the idea of replacing the neck pup, but was told that no replacement was available at that time. I was happy with the bridge pup, and it's sound, but I actually never use the neck pup at all because is has no mid or bright sound at all. There was a Dimarzio available for the neck at that time, but I wasn't interested. My current luthier suggested that making any changes to the guitar at this point would just devalue the instrument. Thus, I purchased a Burns Bison to meet those different tonal needs.

    Which Dimarzio did you retrofit to your EB3 neck?
    Is this worth doing to the '63, or am I just chopping up a good antique? I noted that you said above don't pay too much, so assuming the guitar might be worth 1500 to 2 g's unaltered, is this a realistic course of action, or should I just pickup a different guitar I like?

    Your thoughts here would be appreciated.

  16. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    I used the dimarzio one here:


    it's a direct replacement (same size and everything) so you don't have to do anything to the bass, it goes right in where the old one was. you can always put back the original when you want.

    it sounds better than the original but it's still pretty woofy. I change the pickup selector switch to a pickup balance control and use about 2/3 bridge and 1/3 neck, going to opposite of that for softer tunes like "walkin' the cow" or "chinese firedrill."

    hope this helps.

    on bass, watt

  17. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    There is a 4 postion selector on the original Eb3, do you happen to know how they are set up by postion?,IE 1- Neck - 2 neck + bridge etc.

  18. bassguild


    Jun 27, 2003
    hey all-
    just joined the ship here...

    i have a early 70's EB-3 and agree with Watt that they are a little boxier and harder to manage than the 60's one.
    i currently play a 71' Guild M-85 which i believe is a 31" scale..i have small hands also and this bass really flies. the standard split/humbucker coil tap that is stock really allows you to customize the "honk" and midrange punch. also it has a master volume knob which is nice for global volume adjustments.
    have to say i was excited to find that watt is the forum moderator and have to say thanks for being one of, if not the most, gracious down to earth person i've ever had the pleasure of talking to. and you'r last tour through i caught uyou in brooklyn at northsix and damn if you didnt totally kill everything it was amazing.

  19. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    sorry I can't remember for sure but you can tap on each pickup to see what's up. I think one position is neck pickup, one is bothe, another is both and then one is the bridge pickkup w/a tone circuit to cut lows. I didn't care for them much at all and that's why I replaced that control w/a pickup blend one.

    sorry I couldn't help more.

    on bass, watt

  20. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    thanks much for the kind words.

    I never have played one of those guilds, glad you like yours. yeah, I'm not really a fan of the eb-3 basses made in the 70s. that's just my opinion though.

    good luck w/you and the bass!

    on bass, watt