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Review

Epiphone EB-3

Issue #52

Ok, so, summing up an absolute classic with looks to go with it and some great vintage inspiring tones but just watch that neck dive.
Dan Veall

Pros

Going all vintage Gibson
But not the price tag.

Cons

Limited colour options, Cherry or Ebony.

Epiphone EB-3 

Rising to prominence in the 1960s in the hands of Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, Bill Wyman the Gibson EB-3 bass is a bit of a legend in its own right. Now it's Dan Veall’s turn to have a go.

 


When I think of the Gibson EB-3, I instantly think of Jack Bruce and that ‘low-mid’ present driven bass tone in Cream’s famous recordings pushing Marshall amplifiers and cabinets hard.

We don’t have the luxury of a wall of classic British valve amplifiers to see if this Epiphone EB-3 can emulate those gut-punching sounds. Very sadly we don’t have Jack Bruce to demonstrate following the sad loss to Liver Disease in 2014. I hope however that with the help of some decent earphones your end, you are going to hear what this version of a classic can do.

A design authorised by Gibson, the Epiphone EB-3 is a true reproduction of the Gibson SG Bass. A real icon and one of Rock’s defining instruments. Brought back, this was a classic bass guitar of the 60s with eye-catching cutaways, a set neck, chrome hardware and a pair of humbucker pickups. The neck position humbucking model is delivering the kind of low-end that inspired Billy Sheehan to ‘take up a bit of DIY’ on his own bass, the Fender ‘Wife’ Precision! He is more likely to be seen with his Yamaha basses now that also have a Gibson inspired neck positioned pickup.

The vintage curves of the Epiphone EB-3 Bass Guitar are carved (I guess in this case, machined) from Mahogany and something I do like, also in Mahogany, the neck too. This, finished in the same gloss top coat has, to my mind an almost jazz bass like profile. It really isn’t a ’68 Telecaster Bass’ neck profile that’s for sure (speaking of Billy Sheehan’s heavily customised Precision bass), but equally not an ultra skinny modern speed machine. The good news though is that navigation isn’t particularly impeded and with a good set up, you’ll find your way round this ‘slim taper’ D neck profile easily. Features also include a  34-inch scale length and 1.65-inch nut width on this particular instrument making it feel ‘familiar.'

The body feels slim from back to front but still feels substantial owing to the body wood choice and on my knee having a ‘noodle’ exudes a warm tone with a metallic twang from the choice of hardware before plugging it in.

When it comes to plugging the EB-3 in, well there are of course some real classic tones on board: I really liked the sound of the front humbucking pickup, no doubt. It brings the big and rounded low-end expected and with that every note produced with a warm timbre. Then, moving on to adding the bridge mini humbucker into the equation using the controls, bite and top end seemed to balance the overall output. A little rasp maybe but I think a good mix with the neck position but with the neck pickup in solo, could, through certain amplifiers sound a little woolly? In the studio, of course, I am spoilt with a rig known for its pristine audio quality. Both bass and amplifier really do play nicely together - I envisage especially in non-rock settings too!

Overall, being so used to basses with soap-bar pickups and the ubiquitous Precision split-coils I needed a small amount of time to adjust to new right-hand positioning which you may also experience. My only nag I guess; like many basses whose upper horn strap button is a distance away from the 12th fret, neck dive is inevitable. As much as I love these icons, I don’t know how I feel about having to make sure I have special strap requirements or what have you to minimise the effect of this happening. It’s a deal breaker for me I’m afraid. Long multiple-set gigs I play are more comfortable when the bass is well balanced and just sits still when standing!

Ok, so, summing up an absolute classic with looks to go with it and some great vintage inspiring tones but just watch that neck dive.

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GI 52 Cover
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Issue #53

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