The violin shaped “Gibson Eb 1 Shop “, as Gibsons first electric bass guitar was known, was first produced in 1953 as a response to the Fender Precision Bass. Only an average of 91 EBs were produced each year untill 1958 when, with the launch of the hollow-body EB2 the EB was renamed the EB1, a name which has now been attributed to the whole production run of this model.
The epiphone eb 1 fretless violin shaped body was carved out of solid mahogony and fitted with a large, brown, pickup at the base of the neck, with the poles situated along the lower, bridge, end. The head was fitted with banjo-style tuners, as were all basses in the 1950’s, and the end of the body was fitted with a socket to take a screw-in telescopic end-pin which allowed the bass to be played as an upright.
Production ceased at the end of 1958, with a total 546 produced, making this an extremely rare model.”Oh, I got a hold of a very nice old Gibson violin bass pictured in the little cutout wheel on the cover of Led Zeppelin III. That was nice, too: it’s not stage-worthy, but it gives a beautiful warm sound. I don’t like Gibson basses generally because they feel all rubbery; I like something you can get your teeth into. But the violin bass was the only Gibson that was as heavy as a Fender to play, but still had that fine Gibson sound.
I used it on Led Zeppelin III and I’ve used it every now and again, usually when I’m tracking a bass after I’ve done keyboard for the main track. The one I have went through Little Richard’s band and then through James Brown’s band, and it arrived in England. In fact, I saw it on an old movie clip of Little Richard, It was probably about a 48 or 50 or something like that: it was the original one.” – John Paul Jones, July 1977
According to a Marc 4, 2012 interview with Dave Lewis, John Paul said, “Yes, I still have that. I didn’t use it live but it is on record. I think it was used for Tangerine.”
A good friend of mine named Rick Reed (a really great bass player) has one. Rick and I have been in a few bands together. He’s got one of the early EB-1’s with the end peg and for a while it was his main bass. He did buy it modded though as someone put a Jazz Bass pickup in it closer to the bridge. I know the neck pickups varied as some were big single coils and later ones were humbucking. I know the neck pickup on my EB-3 is right at 30K d.c. and is a tad muddy (but balanced out by the bridge pickup). One reason they’re so muddy is Gibson used a .01 cap in parallel with the pickup which gives it more mids.
Gibson did some strange stuff wiring basses. The EB-3’s and EB-2D’s have a 220K resistor in series with the neck pickup along with the .01 cap and the “Baritone” switch kicks in a 15Hy inductor coil with a .02 cap. Talk about mud