Is there any love for Gibson basses? In my opinion Gibson basses are underrated. One of my go-to basses is a four string ES-335 bass. Put some flatwounds on it, plug it into the Ampeg B-15 and you’re time warped into the sixties. Tons of vintage low end and growly bass notes. I love the Gibson basses and apart from an occasional thunderbird I rarely see any at a gig.
In general, guitarists are very “conservative” people. Many guitarists swear by the classics: Strat’s and Tele’s, LP’s and SG’s. Bass players are less prone to stick to a particular type (or brand). Spend one day at a festival and you’ll notice guitarists with Fenders and Gibsons but the bass players are different: Fender, Rickenbacker, Zon, Fodera, Dingwall, Ibanez, Warwick, Lakland, Musicman, Sadowsky,… Hardly, if ever, you’ll see a bassist with a Gibson. Yes, Cream had an EB bass, I know…
Two years ago, I came across this Gibson EB-5 bass. Five because it’s a five string, what did you think? As many bass players I never had any attention for the modern Gibson basses but what caught my eye was the finish. The red satin finish of the swamp ash body, black hardware and the red inlays are stunning. No doubt about it, this was the bass version of my 2016 Les Paul Voodoo. I have a 2004 and a 2016 Les Paul Voodoo. It are LP Studio’s with superhot red and black zebra pickups. Real eye-catchers. This 2019 EB-5 was the Bass version of my 2016 Les Paul.
I got a good deal on it and picked it up for around €1000 (including VAT). It is a small price for such a lot of bass! I searched the internet and never came across another one like this. Yes, there was a similar instrument in France but it had a rosewood fingerboard, mine has a richlite board and blacked out hardware (Grover “elephant-ear” tuners and a black Babicz full contact bridge). The quality of the instrument surprised me and I was really stoked. It’s a player and a stay-er! A five string is not so comfortable for me, at first I used the low B as a thumb rest. Once used to it I could dig and appreciate the extra low end.
After some research I found out these basses were destined to end up in Japan. More than once Gibson did something special with their end-of-life products. Before sending them into oblivion they “reworked” the instruments for the Japanese market. I have two Gibson Les Paul London Fog’s which are actually Dark Fire LP’s stripped from their robot tuners and electronics and finished in a greenish/salmon red color… Again, for the Japanese market.
The EB-5 is a great bass. Swamp ash body, maple set neck and dual humbuckers. The electronics are passive with a black knurled volume knob for each pickup. The pups are splitable (coil tap) and you can combine and dial in to your liking. The 34” scale bass has 24 (!) frets and a fretboard radius of 21”. The wide rounded neck requires long fingers but the wide string spacing won’t disappoint slappers.
Overall, it is the look of the bass. A red satin nitro lacquer finish called “juju”, red marker dots, chrome hardware and long sleek elegant body. A well balanced instrument.