Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 61

Narrow-spaced
knobs and the
hollow chrome
bridge on the '65.

long). Structurally, the EB-3 was the same as
the EB-0. So, what did the ambitious bassist
get for the extra dough? A much more sonically
versatile electronics package in what was also
Gibson's tacit admission that the miles-deep
tone was not to every player's taste.
The EB-3 mounted an additional humbucking pickup near the bridge, with the
EB-2's "baritone" choke circuit. The bridge
pickup was a new, smaller unit built on the
mini-humbucker coils recently developed
for the Epiphone line. This was a neat way to
reduce R&D costs and resulted in two pickups
offering vastly different tonalities, albeit with

somewhat uneven response. Each had
its own Tone and Volume controls, with
a fifth knob controlling a four-position
selector. The EB-3's piece de resistance,
this relative of Gibson's Varitone system
(with only one variation) was the key
to the widest range of tones of any
1961 bass. The first position offered
the mudbucker in all its glory, still
capable of blowing speakers; position
two was the small-coil bridge pickup
with its bright, snarky upper mid
tone (the result of the thin-sounding
pickup sensing taut string vibration

This '65 EB-3
shows several
changes including
the then-standard
control rout on back.

June 2018

61

VINTAGE GUITAR

close to the bridge); position
three combined the two pickups
and, with judicious balancing
of the Volume controls, created the
most usable Gibson bass tone yet; finally,
position four was the neck pickup alone
through the "baritone" choke (activated
via pushbutton) which lopped off most
of the lows and much of the output via
a massive metal-encased coil in the
control cavity.
The EB-3 was advanced for its time.
At the dawn of the '60s there were few
multi-pickup basses - the '56 Danelectro
UB-2 six-string and '58 Longhorn had
been the first, but Fender's 1960 Jazz Bass
was the main contender. Rickenbacker's
4001 also appeared at the end of '61.
Gibson's EB-3 was a logical response,
but at a high price (the Jazz listed at
$279). Leaving aside the difference in
scale length (which Gibson claimed as
an advantage) the company justified
the EB-3's greater expense by noting its
set-neck construction, ease of handling,
and complex electronics.
The EB-3 was handy and comfortable,
but, compared to other period basses,
presented a cluttered appearance with
five knobs, two pickups, and other
miscellany crowding its face. The wingshaped celluloid pickguard was thicker


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 4
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 5
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 6
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 7
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 8
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 9
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 11
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Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 13
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 14
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 15
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