1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Questions for the Epiphone URB fans

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MollyKay, Aug 6, 2007.


  1. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    If you play an Epiphone upright bass you belong to a very small group of bass players that get to enjoy a fine American made plywood bass (okay, I know I just lost half of the readers, as this would be a "junk food" bass thread...):smug:

    I have read several threads about the little known history of the Epi bass. Dating an Epi and looking for a serial number can be quite a task. I have found stamped serial numbers under the scroll head and at the end pin. I have read they can also be found on the end of the fret board.

    Where else have you found serial numbers stamped?

    Has anyone found an accurate source for dating Epi's year of manufacturing?

    Have you ever seen a paper label on the inside?

    Should the metal tail badge always have the model number engraved on it?


    There seems to be no record for the early Epi's made in NY and only limited info on the Epi/Gibson Kalamazoo, MI years.

    If anyone wants to chime in with their knowledge of Epiphone upright basses, please do. I think I will go back through some threads and document the serial number, model number and possible guess at manufacture year. I'll dump the info into an Excel spread sheet just for sh*ts & giggles to see what I get.

    ;)
     
  2. I'd be very interested in what comes up, although I would be surprised if we learn anything new. It's all a big mystery...

    MollyKay, you know me thru emails about my Epi for sale. Nice to 'see' you!
     
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I don't consider them junk food at all. I had a great one long ago, and it was just fine, thanks. Lovely fingerboard! Paid $400 for it, and made money when I sold it.
     
  4. Wow. I just saw one being sold for $2200. Sounded pretty good by my ears.
     
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Yup... it was kind of a "must sell" situation for the guy.
     
  6. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    I have been doing some digging for history/information on the internet…I don’t claim any of this is accurate, it is basically a regurgitation of what I have read and seen. There does not seem to be a firm start date for production of Epiphone upright basses, but I did fine a picture of Epi Stathopoulo shown standing with an upright bass in the NY factory. The picture shows him in an apron wiping the finish. So one could conclude Epi basses were in production before 1943 because Epi Stathopoulo died of leukemia in 1943.

    I read the company fell on hard times in the postwar years and by the mid-'50s made only a few instruments, mostly upright basses. Epi upright bass production continued through 1956, in 1957 Gibson bought out Epiphone and continued to make basses with a combination of Epiphone and Gibson parts. In 1960 Gibson moved the production (equipment and bass molds) to Kalamazoo, MI and continued to make Epiphone basses under the Epiphone brand name until 1969.

    I have seen one Gibson/ Epiphone bass that has the original blue paper label on the inside. It was confirmed that Gibson did use blue paper labels from 1958-1969…if you have a blue paper label inside your bass, you have a Gibson/ Epiphone bass. I would imagine very few basses have this small piece of paper left in them (look in the bottom of your bass with a flash light, you might find a treasure).

    Epiphone used a die stamp to mark the serial numbers on basses…but I have read several threads on TB where owners can not find a die stamped serial number…don’t know why this is. It was also noted that Gibson only continued with the B-4 and B-5 models when they moved to Kalamazoo, MI. If you have a B-1, B-2, or a B-3 it might be a bass from the pre-Gibson era…the source of this info is a book by George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, TN. He has a one page mention of Epiphone/Gibson upright basses in his book, history of vintage guitars.

    I’ll keep digging…if you want to send me a PM with your serial number (and where the serial number was located on the bass), model number and a guess as to what year you think your bass is, I’ll plug the info into my crude spread sheet. I have no idea why I am doing this other then I love American plywood basses (my time would be better spent practicing). :bassist:
     
  7. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Based on my experiences playing a dozen or so Epiphone basses, I'd would almost universally choose them over any Kay for the bigger sound, more solid workmanship, and more moderate size neck. I feel that the Epiphone basses are an underappreciated and underpriced alternative to the better known and higher priced Kay basses.
     
  8. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    WOW! Now there is an endorsement for the great old American made plywood bass…Thanks very much. :)

    I hear people say all Epi’s are good, as Kay made some good basses and some not so good basses…but I still love them all the same. I will be interested to see if there is any quality or sound different to the Epi era or the Gibson/Epi era. The bulging shape of front and back is more pronounced then a Kay bass…maybe that is where the big booming sound (great for bluegrass) comes from. If Gibson had the Epi bass molds the sound should/could be pretty consistent (excluding bad set up or poor workmanship). Again…thanks!
     
  9. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    Well I have gone back to TB threads from 2004 forward and have found mention of 14 Epiphone upright basses. Of that number there are two B-1, six B-4, and six B-5’s. For those basses that had serial numbers, they were located at three spots on the bass: threes were under the head scroll, five were at the end pin and two were at the bottom of the fingerboard. Since Gibson/Epiphone made only B-4 and B-5 that seems to be what has turned up the most. Some of you guys got screaming deals on your Epi basses…price anywhere from $300 up to $2500…let me find a $300 Epi and I will be beating a path to your door. ;)
     
  10. Basses don't have fretboards, they have fingerboards. They also don't have headstocks, thet have scrolls. Just joking my dear....i'm known for whinning about this around here.

    Congratulations, I own a master carved bass, but have been in love with Epi's since I was in high school and i'm 65. They have real carved scrolls....Kay's have glued ones. The purfling.....inlaid lines around the edges, are real....Kay's are either painted or decaled on. just love the looks and most are really good sounding basses. I'd buy one just to have if I could find a deal. I'm afraid the word is out. Again, congrats.
     
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I'm really sorry I let mine go, in retrospect. Everything just worked great on that one. It made a fair amount of volume, even with the strings at a relatively low height. I could really get around on that bass.
     
  12. Has anyone been able to deduce any info from the serial numbers? Date, model, etc? I have never found a serial # on mine, unless what's written inside in pencil is a serial number, and there is no model indicated anywhere on the instrument. A respected luthier gave it a rough appraisal but even he didn't offer any of this info. In fact he asked me if I had ever dated it, which I have not.
     
  13. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    :oops: Hi Paul…term correction have been noted and changed. I make no claims to know what I am talking about, I just know what I like and what sounds good to my ear. My lack of knowledge is an opportunity to learn more…whine away! ;)


    In a way, I am quite foolish for dredging up this information; it is only going to make it more difficult to find another Epi bass for me. Now we know how great of a bass they are and how many were sold and wish they had them back…almost like your first car that you wish you still had…1967 Mustang any one?
     
  14. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    When I see posts berating newbies or people who come from the guitar and electric bass regarding there use of terms like "fretboard", "headtsock", "fret markers", etc., it saddens me if they are not made in a gentle, positive manner that encourages participation in this forum rather than shutting it off. Paul's post wasn't overly stern, but this kind of stuff has a chilling effect on posts by our new folks.
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Besides, as I've said before, in thumb position it's a fretboard for me, cause I gotta worry about what's gonna sound...

    Thanks, I'll be here through Thursday.

    Try the veal.
     
  16. This is how we learn. Chilling??? Molly doesn't sound chilled to me. I've been doing this for years on TBDB....it's a joke!
     
  17. Cathead

    Cathead

    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
  18. Yeah, I forgot....many Epi's have an extra turn (volute, Steve) on the scroll!
     
  19. According to Roger Stowers ( http://www.kaybass.com )a recognized researcher/authority on the Kay Bass, some of the early models had carved and/or partially carved scrolls. Later models did, in fact, have glued-on roses. Also, several different early models and most all of the top of the line models, e,g, - Swingmaster - had inlaid purfling front & rear - to include around the f holes on certain models . . . just for whatever it may or may not be worth . . . my '42 M-1 has carved roses & painted lines.

    btw, I, too, have a real fondness for those old Epi-Cannons . . . Ka-Boom !
     
  20. Now that you mention it, I remember the 5 string Chubby Jackson Kay model did have real purfling, including the FF holes. Real scrolls too.
    Ther's a bunch of generic bass pictures on a Red Mitchel LP. four strings only, but it's a good loking bass...nice flame. I bet that's what that is. Purled FF's but no rose.
    Where were the roses located? Got a picture?
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.