I guess I could complain about the stark white color of the plush lining that Gibson is now using inside their hardshell cases – as I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, I suspect it will tend to get dirty over time and may not look as nice after a few years as it does now… but again, that’s a minor quibble. The Canadian-built case is rugged and well-constructed, fits of felix pappalardi bass sound the EB Bass like the proverbial glove Epiphone Eb1, and at this price, it’s nice to see a solid case included with the bass instead of a gig bag. Sonically, this is a really versatile bass. Rolling off the tone control and using the neck pickup results in a darker tone that is similar to what you’d hear on an old Motown record, while opening it up reveals much brighter and more articulate timbres that can really cut through; especially when using the bridge pickup. While the EB Bass can get big, beefy tones, it’s by no means limited to them. Both pickups have a lot more output than you might expect from passive pickups – even when coil-split for single coil sounds. Various combinations of the two pickups can easily be blended with the separate volume controls, and the coil tapping works wonderfully, giving you even more tonal options.
The Epiphone Eb1 is well-built, extremely comfortable to play, balances well (it doesn’t fight you when worn on a strap), and I think the new shape looks cool in a retro/modern sort of way. It’s definitely something a bit different than the earlier EB series basses from Gibson, and yet not too far out in left-field either. If players can get past some of the myths and misconceptions and give the EB Bass a fair try, I think a lot of them are going to be quite impressed with it – I know I was.
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 Epiphone Eb1 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 Epiphone Eb1 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 Epiphone Eb1 in pristine condition with all original parts.