Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 64
COLUMN The (Way) Back Beat
to subtle changes. The Tone and
Volume knobs were originally
mounted with an unusually wide
gap between them, caused by the
large choke coil occupying space
in the cavity. By turning the coil
sideways, engineers were able
to make the rout consistent with
other SGs - a cost-saving measure.
It's likely no one noticed or cared at the
time, but "wide-spaced knobs" is now a
Other changes included the one-piece
milled-metal bridge used since 1953 being replaced by a cheaper, chrome-plated
hollow casting, as was all the hardware
by late '65. Early EB's had a wide, fat neck
with a 111/16" nut that by early '66 was
narrowed dramatically to 11/2". Some
players probably liked it at the time, but
many (including Jack Bruce) preferred
the wide neck. After '65, several variations
were tried for the neck/body joint which
proved a problem for SG models; with
necks set slightly deeper into the body,
the basses had fewer such issues. Finally,
the Cherry finish took on a deeper, moreburgundy hue.
While all these changes moved on,
the '66 catalog (which was actually used
through 1970) blithely pictured the '64
versions of both EB models.
Regardless, as the decade waned, EB-3
sales increased dramatically. Production
numbers for the late 1960s and early '70s
were far higher than the "classic" period.
Just over 1,200 EB-3s shipped
from mid- '61 up through
the end of '65; nearly
2,000 left Kalamazoo
in 1970. Along the way,
hand rest was moved
back to become a
bridge cover, and the
finger bar disappeared.
A new cast bridge appeared at the end of the
'60s offering individually
intonatable strings, but
at the cost of a certain
amount of solidity.
The price went back
up to $365, then
$390 in '69.
By this time, the
sonic advantage of
were more apparent. With the demise
The 1970 catalog
showed the new
EB-3 and EB-3L.
of the Thunderbird in
'69, Gibson had none
to offer, so as a quick
solution, a long-scale
EB-3 appeared in the
1970 price list; the EB3L was listed alongside
the original, and at
the same price ($410),
in the original Cherry
and a new Walnut finish. While it likely
seemed a good idea
to modernize the
design, the longer
341/2" neck altered
By '67, the EB-3
had a narrow
neck, darker finish,
and "witch hat"
the balance drastically, and the EB-3L never
sold as well as the short-scale original. At the
same time, in a questionable-in-retrospectchange, it was given a slotted headstock with
new Schaller tuners at the outer edges. Probably intended to address the balance issues,
it mostly made the already fragile area more
prone to breakage. This experiment lasted
only a couple years.
Next month, we'll follow the EB-3 into the
'70s, where it prospered for a time before falling
victim to the increasingly hi-fi sonic demands
of bassists and recording engineers. While the
EB-3's distinctive growl is one of the most
recognizable of all electric-bass tones, it fell
rapidly out of favor at the dawn of the disco
era. In the meantime, though, it left a unique
sonic signature on many classic records.
To read VG's feature on the special-order '62
EB-3 featured in the January '08 issue, go to www.