Monday, 28 April 2008

My Gibson EB-1 Bass Guitar

In 1970 I heard a hard rock band called 'Mountain' which just blew me away. The band consisted of an incredible lead guitarist by the name of Leslie West. Corky Laing commanded the drums like no other. Steve Knight on keyboards added subdued textures to the loud, "in your face" mix. Finally my hero, the late Felix Pappalardi. Felix had a degree in music from the University of Michigan but unable to find a suitable employment conducting an orchestra, garnered fame as producer for the supergroup trio 'Cream'. In 1969 Felix met Leslie and formed 'Mountain'.
Felix's bassmanship and finesse on the instrument was unlike anything I had heard before. His tone was unique and sounded like a buzz saw which complemented the bombastic sounds emanating from Leslie's Les Paul Jr guitar. Felix developed his sound by playing a rather unpopular Gibson bass called the EB-1 (simply, the Electric Bass One). Rumour has it that Felix had this violin shaped short scale (32") bass modified by Gibson with some sort of electronic circuitry (or perhaps just different capacitors) which when driven by his Sunn amplifiers, gave it that unique buzz saw sound. The violin shaped Gibson EB-1 should not be confused with the violin shaped Hofner Bass played by Paul McCartney in "The Beatles". The EB-1 can also be seen in action being played by the phenomenal Jack Bruce in the 2005 'Cream' reunion DVD at Royal Albert Hall in London.

Looking far and wide I was able to locate an EB-1 in London England which a friend of mine was willing to pick up for me but I also found one in Lansing Michigan. I just had to have it so I scraped together my savings, my salary, yet being childless, I couldn't offer my first borne - I made the purchase.

I am the proud owner of a 1957 Gibson EB-1 in pristine condition with all original parts.

Just had to brag!

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Anonymous said...

Great Bass! I have an Epiphone EB-1, not being able to afford the real thing. However, I am modifying it and am in the process of installing the single coil pickup from an EB such as yours, which is supposed to be the reason why Jack's bass sounded so good in the Cream reunion. Would it be possible for you to sketch me a wiring diagram of your bass including the resistance of the pots and the value of any capaciters? I know its a lot to aske to go messing around with a vintage bass. Thanks!

Yuri said...

I'll see what I can do in the next few days about getting the schematics posted here.

Anonymous said...

Yuri, thanks a million for the schematic and picture. I will wire my Epi EB-1 that way when I install the Gibso pickup. By the way, is there any chance you might be able to post a sound clip of your EB-1? Direct from the bass to your PC would be OK.

Yuri said...

You're welcome but again I caution you that the diagram I put together was by poking around the crammed wires with a pencil and pen light. I tried to trace the circuitry to the best of my ability but as I am not trained in electronics, I offer no guarantees. If the circuit fails to work get back to me and we can troubleshoot it.
As for a sound bite of the bass - I currently don't have coupler which can join my 1/4" (6.5mm) guitar cord plug to the 1/8" (3.5mm) computer jack. I'll see what I can come up with sometime in the near future - record with audacity and convert to MP3 but I don't think Blogger supports posting audio files.
I wish I could be of more help but if you read my introductory posting you'll know that an injury has put me into a wheelchair and unfortunately those wheels remain strapped to my ass at this time. Limits what I can do.
Cheers, Yuri

Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand that I may have to do some tweaking, but it gives me a starting point, so to speak. I plan to share my results online to help others in search of that vintage sound. I hope that you are able to play your bass frequently with your condition. I have a friend an fellow coworker who is paraplegic due to a motorcycle accident. He was hit from behind while waiting on a traffic light to turn green.
Anyway, if you happen to be able to get a sound clip I'd sure enjoy hearing you play your EB-1. If I can ever be of help let me know. Regards, Mark

Anonymous said...

Bravo, what necessary words..., a magnificent idea

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just got a 53 EB1 in very goos shape but the pick guard is missing. I know i'll never find a original replacement but I might be able to get one made if I had a template. I was hoping someone that has one might be able to help me out and trace the pick guard so I can use It as template. Can you help? If you can please contact me at Thanks

Danica said...

It was nice seeing your bass guitar. I am actually planning to buy this instrument but still looking for reviews on which kind of guitar is the best. I hope to hear reviews from you. Thanks in advance!