The Epiphone Eb 1 Bass, then known as the Electric Bass, was first marketed in 1953 in response to the runaway success of the Fender Precision Bass. Rather than using a body styled after an electric guitar, the EB-1 was shaped to resemble a double bass, and even had false f-holes painted onto the top of the body. Production of the EB-1 ended in 1958, when it was superseded by the EB-2 and the later EB-0. The Electric Bass was renamed as the EB-1 at this time.
The Epiphone Eb 1 Bass was reissued twice; once in 1968, and again in 1999. The 1968 reissue deleted the false f-holes. Other changes included standard right-angled tuning machines, and the addition of a chrome bridge cover. This reissue was discontinued in 1972. The 1999 reissue, by Epiphone (a subsidiary of Gibson), was manufactured in Korea. This version of the EB-1 uses a more cost-effective bolt-on neck construction.
Despite its relative unpopularity among players, the Epiphone Eb 1 Bass is prized among collectors for its historical value. It is not uncommon for original EB-1s to fetch prices of over $4000 US dollars.
The Epiphone Eb 1 Bass featured a solid mahogany body with raised pickguard, and featured a 30.5″ scale set neck rather than the 34″ scale of the Fender Precision Bass or the 41.5″ scale of the 3/4-sized upright bass, which was the scale favored by many upright bassists of the time. The pickup was mounted directly against the base of the neck, rather than the mid-body position used by the Precision Bass, giving the Epiphone Eb 1 Bass a deeper, but less defined tone than its rival. The EB-1 is fitted with planetary banjo tuners, rather than the right-angled tuners used by most other guitar and bass designs.
In order to appeal to upright bass players, the EB-1 featured a telescopic end pin that allowed bassists to play the EB-1 in both the upright and horizontal positions. False f-holes and purfling were painted onto the body in order to resemble the upright bass. The Epiphone Eb 1 Bass was only available finished with a brown stain.
This was the first electric bass from Gibson hence the name. However it was rechristened the Epiphone Eb 1 Bass after the introduction of the EB-0 in 1956. It was Gibson’s tradition of organising model numbers by their price that caused the EB-0 to undercut this designation because it was cheaper!