The violin shaped “Electric Bass”, 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 Felix Pappalardi Bass 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 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.
There was a nostalgia-driven resurgence of this model in the late 1960’s, leading Gibson to re-issue the model in 1970-72 when they produced 473 re-issues with a metal covered Humbucker, the then prevalent intonable bridge and conventional right-angle tuners.
The most famous player of an EB1 was Felix Pappalardi Bass, the Producer of the Cream and later the Bassist for Mountain, who played a 1970’s re-issue. Jack Bruce also played an EB1 in memory of Felix, during the Cream reunion at the Albert Hall in 2005.
The EB-1 briefly resurfaced in 1970 with a few cosmetic changes but by 1972 it was gone again! With its violin shape and endpin it was definitely aimed at bridging the gap between an upright bass and a bass guitar. The earliest versions of Felix Pappalardi Bass with a brown pickup cover had a huge single-coil unit inside that was actually mounted on its side. This gave it a cleaner and better-defined sound than the 1958 versions that were given a regular bass humbucker.