Find of the Week: Gibson's First Electric Bass

This week's Find of the Week is bound to become the prized possession of any low-end theorist: it's an all-original 1954 Gibson EB-1, among the earliest solid-body electric basses built at Gibson's original headquarters in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The EB-1 was first introduced by Gibson in 1953 as a response to Fender's Precision Bass, which was initially unveiled just two years prior. Since the now-ubiquitous P-Bass was the first mass-market indication that bassists would transition away from acoustic uprights, Gibson knew they had to compete with an electric instrument in ways that set them apart from their major competitor. Ultimately, they chose to maintain a similar look and feel to their acoustic forebears—fake F-holes and all (not unlike Ampeg's AEB-1 model, which would be introduced the next decade.)

This is a 1954 Gibson EB-1 bass guitar.
1954 Gibson EB-1.

Though not nearly as successful as Fender's flagship four-string, it's safe to assume that the EB-1 influenced Höfner's 500/1 violin bass, which would be introduced later in the 50s and would eventually be made famous by Sir Paul McCartney. At the tail-end of the decade in 1959, Gibson would shift gears to the SG-resembling EB-1, which are much closer to a Precision Bass overall and drop any pretense of being similar to an upright.

According to the seller, Retrofret Vintage Guitars in Brooklyn, this particular EB-1 has a serial number dated to early 1954, which marks it as one of the first couple of hundreds of this model issued. It comes equipped with a Royalite-covered single-coil pickup which contributes its signature thick thump. The original case is fully intact and the slim frets have hardly any wear.

To learn more about the EB-1, check out the below article which lays out the early model's history. In the meantime, be sure check out more photos and information at the full listing for more details, and to make an offer on this piece of Gibson history.

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