The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard Limited WHO Edition Guitar Review

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The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard Electric Guitar Review
I love Gibson SG guitars. Really, I do. So much so that I scrambled and bought a new SG for Christmas for me… The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard was out of manufacture, and a few of them were left at the online retailers. I knew I’d love some P90 goodness, an old-school SG setup, and that nice Gibson 60’s SlimTaper™ neck.

I really enjoyed my Christmas present. It made for lots of happy evenings of after-work picking and recording.
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendHeadstock
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information Gibson SGs – click here! (visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! (And G.A.S., of course! :-))

Quick Opinion:
It really was a strong purchase – and I’m glad I did it. My Pete Townshend arrived in absolute perfect shape, crafted with great care and put together perfectly. The neck was superb, the sound was fantastic, and the finish was remarkable. You’ve gotta love that new Canadian TKL case smell combined with that new hand-finished lacquer smell. Yowza.
The Pete Townshend SG plays like a dream and has a sound that is unmistakably golden. This guitar is a player, and begs to be taken out of its collector’s case and PLAYED.

Features:
The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard with P90s guitar is an excellent bundle bargain. It has what you’d expect from a Gibson Standard SG, plus a cool case. Overall, I think Gibson really packed a lot in to this instrument for the money.
* Mahogany body and neck
* Rosewood fretboard with 12” radius
* Dot inlays
* Polaris White nitrocellulose lacquer finish
* 22 frets on a 24 ¾” scale 60’s SlimTaper neck
* A wraparound compensated lightening bar saddle bridge
* Full size Grover nickel Rotomatic tuners
* 2 Alnico V P-90 pickups (vintage voiced, plus a little extra oomph)
* Totally cool “WHO” special silkscreened case
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendCaseExterior

Playability
Along with the nice features, playability is where this Gibson SG shines. It feels great in the hands from start to finish. It begs to be played, and if you are like me, the neck is a real winner. Although I usually write a great deal about playability when I compose guitar reviews, I didn’t feel it was necessary to do so with this review. The Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary Gibson SG plays like an old friend in mint condition.

This guitar feels great in the hands. The finish is easy on the paws and the balance is typical for an SG – and it feels right at home. I love the way the fretboard radius is set up, and the frets are a breeze.

In general, this is the archetypical SG in many ways and it’s easy to play!
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendBodyShot

Sound Sound, sound, sound, sound, sound… Rich, thick, full, strong, awesome, iconic, fantastic, unbelievable – these are the words that I would think every time I played my Pete Townshend.
The Gibson SG Pete Townshend guitar is no longer available through retail as a new guitar, but you can read lots about the many different Gibson SGs here at zZounds.com.

The pickups can be warm and full when they are not overdriven. When the pickup selector toggle is in the middle or neck position, the sound can be downright molasses thick – fairly amazing for a single coil pickup. Once you start to add overdrive or distortion, things get really deep. The midtones are warm without being muddy. One of the great things about a Gibson vintage-voiced P-90 is that it is versatile without losing EQ.

With the selector on the bridge pickup, the guitar downright wails with tube amplification. It’s snarky enough to get a good bite and definition of the higher pitches – but it doesn’t lose all its low-end tightness. The midtones are very strong in the bridge pickup. I do love Fender single-coil pickups, and they are very different than P-90s – but the completely different nature of the Gibson P-90 pickups is an incredible strong sound that has its own wonderful coloring: not all single coils are the same.
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendBodyShot2
I really like zZounds and their service, and their people! Here’s a list of the current Gibson SGs offered at zZounds.

Fit and Finish
When I unboxed my Pete Townshend SG, I was actually impressed with pretty much all the aspects of the way it is built. Smooth finish, excellent choice of rosewood fretboard wood, hand-crafted fret-end binding, superb carving of the body and neck, and a flawless setup of the bridge, pickups, and headstock components… very nice!

Each of the Gibson “standards” I’ve owned (and those with fret-end binding) has a unique quality to the way the binding is scraped and cut down to meet the fret ends and the fretboard wood. Some guitars will have a little ridgy-ness to the top surface of the fretboard binding that’s scraped away, others will exhibit a baby-soft smoothness. Some guitars have both… but I always find that the fret-end binding technique (rough or smooth) makes the neck so very playable. My Townshend SG was the variety where the craftswoman/craftsman who dressed the fretboard binding really took a long time to do the finish work. It was as though the binding had been made ten minutes or so per side per fret. I think it’s the best I’ve seen, including my Les Paul Custom… Nice!

Funny thing about necks… they either feel right or they don’t. This one did. I think the craftsperson who did the neck really thought it through from beginning to end. Overall, a great guitar!
Here’s Gibson’s page detailing the wonderful SG Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary edition. (Opens new window.)

Wishes and Wants The wrap around Lightening Bar compensated tailpiece/bridge is excellent in comparison with the traditional smooth-top wrap-around tailpiece. However, I did not have much success in recording with the Pete Townshend and other guitars with TOMs or individual-saddle bridges.

The Rockin’ Gibson SG “HH” Special Limited Edition Review! Affordable Awesomeness – get your Angus on!

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Gibson SG Special “HH” Limited Edition Review!

In 2012, Gibson began shipping a variant of the non-gloss (some folks call it “faded”, but it’s not the official title) Gibson SG Special. The Gibson SG Special has a long history of bringing USA-made sound-wonder to the masses at more affordable prices. I think most folks wouldn’t turn down an SG Standard or Supreme if offered, but when the money sneaks out of the wallet, the budget-priced SG Special is the ultimate Gibson “gateway” guitar.

GibsonSGSpecialHHFrontShotbyJimPearson

The Gibson SG Special HH Limited Edition

Rich, resonant, easy-to-play, priced competitively with Asian-made lookalikes, simple, durable (for the most part), and truly a work-horse guitar… I love the Gibson SG special line so much that I’ve “rescued” several “basket cases” over the years and turned them into some of the best sounding and playing instruments I’ve ever owned or used. The retail price of the Gibson SG Special has varied greatly over the years – this limited-edition “HH” model is VERY affordable at less than $600. They can occasionally be found on sale for as much as $75 off the street price. A bargain for handcrafted USA-made rock machines!

What do I think of the limited HH SG Special? I think it is a winner. It does just what it is supposed to do, does it well, and sounds fantastic.

You know, it actually helps me write more reviews and do more gear stuff if you visit zZounds through my links and buy cool stuff from them. Take a look at the Gibson SG Faded Special at zZounds. Although they don’t offer the Gibson SG Special HH with wrap-around tail piece, they offer the Faded and gloss series. zZounds’ folks are great peeps with really great policies and excellent customer service. I’m a customer too.

Quick Opinion: If you find one of these jewels new or used and you’re looking for your first Gibson or your next Gibson, give this serious consideration. They come in unusual colors and have the old-style semi-chunky SG Special neck from the old days. If you need your first USA SG, this is a strong contender!

On another note, as a person who plays lots of guitars each week, I actually like my HH SG Special very much! I’m enjoying the maple fretboard and the nice smooth feel of the dark cherry-finished body and neck. Nice!

GibsonSGSpecialHHControlDetailbyJimPearson

The Gibson SG Special HH Control and Bridge

Sound: Gibson SGs are known for their lightweight and resonant tone. The nice set neck with the small-ish light body makes the guitar sound resonate in your body as you play. There’s not much quite like it. The neck joint and body shape really make for great sound. But there’s more to the formula of that wonderful Gibson SG sound. There are reasons why Clapton, Townshend, Young, Trucks, and so many other awesome guitarists have played SGs over the years.

This particular variant of the Gibson SG is VERY light. It has a fairly thin body and is made of decent tone materials. The finish is actually smoother than the recent “faded” models – I don’t know if the finish makes the sound any different, but my ears tell me that the thin smooth (not glossy, though) nitrocellulose finish is a great breather. Give these a couple of decades and they’ll be very desirable for their sound!

GibsonSGSpecialHHBodyColorWIthFlashbyJimPearson

Shot with a flash to bring out the real wine color

Let’s get into details…
1) Pickups/electronics
2) Tone woods, body, neck, bridge
3) The lightweight simplicity of the SG Special

Pickups and Electronics: The Gibson SG HH Special Limited Edition electric solid body guitar has a slightly different configuration from many Gibson SGs. The HH has two volume controls and one tone control (master), with a traditional L-angle three-way pickup selector switch. The input jack is in its normal place as is the switch, and the knobs are about where they generally are (minus the second tone knob). Depending on to whom you speak, the tone control is or is not important. To me? Yes, it is. I like individual tone controls, too. In my case, I often leave the neck pickup at 10 on the tone, and sometimes put the bridge pickup at 5 for warmer sound. When I’m rockin’, all the dials are at 10+… So, I like a choice. For this little gem, I can give up a little of that flexibility for the price.

The HH comes with the basic Gibson 490R (neck or “rhythm”) pickup and the basic Gibson 490T (bridge or “treble”) pickup. These pickups use AlNiCo II pickup magnets and are wound a lot like the sound of the Gibson 57 – but with distinct characteristics that separate them from the ’50s pickup sound. In the case of the HH SG Special, the pickups are traditional single-conductor (plus braided shield ground) wiring that is soldered like crazy to the back of Gibson pots and electronics. They’re squarely in the mainstream voice, are medium output, and can push the tubes quite nicely. If you’re looking for that extreme output “metal” sound, you’ll find them a little on the vintage side for hard stuff – but I’ve been known to put a King of Tone (opens a new window) and some 12ax7s in a tune-able preamp between the guitar and amp to get massive tone of just about any shape and color.

One side note about Gibson’s 490 pickups: An opinion (remember what they say about opinions?): They’re like lower-priced AlNiCo II Slash pickups – more vintage-y, a little less defined, and a little more mid-rangy than the Slash pickups and the Seymour AlNiCo II pros – but a worthy contender nonetheless. These do the blues JUSTICE as compared to even some of Gibson’s more expensive pickups. And another thing? You can actually play clean on the neck pickup if you don’t drive them too hard. Nice.

GibsonSGSpecialHHWiringDetail1byJimPearson

Wiring Detail – factory soldering

The pickup selector is fairly standard Gibson toggle fare: Neck-Neck/Bridge-Bridge. It’s quiet, mechanical, and very sturdy. I’ve never replaced a Gibson-installed pickup selector because it was bad or didn’t work.

Tone woods The body and neck are mahogany. The fretboard is baked maple (looks a lot like an unusually-grained rosewood or red-walnut color). The body is thin and resonant. Mine was made with a minimal number of wood pieces, so it has a nice growly resonance that is very distinctive.

I like rosewood like most folks, but I am really enamored of ebony and maple. The new “baked maple” fretboards of recent vintage feel a lot like good old hard maple and have a nice consistent bright sound and smooth feel. I know many people will be glad when rosewoods and some ebonies go back on the market, but I have the guilty pleasure of always wanting a few Gibsons to play that have real blonde maple fretboards and necks. I guess I’m a sucker for that smooth and bright wood…

GibsonSGSpecialHHBakedMapleFretboardDetailbyJimPearson

Rosewood, ebony, and many in the family of these dense dark woods are in short supply worldwide. Much of the (increasingly rare) woods of these types are getting forested for clear-cutting, illegal trade, and for creating junk wood products. The thing is, these woods take a LONG time to repopulate and to re-forest. Some ebony trees take a hundred years just to grow a few inches of diameter, some even longer. We can’t just cut down these woods, replant them, and harvest them again in a few short decades. Some of the best woods out there are older than even the Iron Age. We have to do our part: love the woods you love, but remember that we have to start becoming more sustainable.

Neck type and bridge Starting with the bridge, this is the old-style bridge: it’s not a tune-o-matic style with adjustable saddles and a separate stop-tail: These HH Specials have the single bridge-and-tail wraparound tailpiece that is placed very near the bridge pickup. These are reminiscent of the Melody Maker guitars of recent vintage and of the original series. It’s cheaper and simpler to have a single bridge piece and one set of studs in the body. The intonation is barely tune-able and the individuality of the tunable saddles is sorely missed, but the simple direct-to-body idea of the wrap around is fine. It sounds wonderful and resonates in the main body wood very well. I’m 50/50 on these bridges. On the one hand, they’re simple and sound fine. On the other hand, it’s very hard to set the intonation up correctly.

The neck is not the thickest Gibson neck I’ve held, but it is very much that chunky “D” sort of shape. I like V and D and deep C necks, so this one feels right at home. It’s just wide enough to make it easy to go from most any Gibson to the HH Special Limited Edition. As far as sound? Acoustically, when you play the guitar unplugged, it sounds fantastic. It has sustain that is unusual for guitars this light and of this setup. The neck actually plays a strong role in this guitar’s sound. It reminds me VERY much of my 2003 Gibson SG “moonie” Special. It’s a joy to play and sounds fantastic. Plugged in? It rings like crazy and feels very much alive in your paws when you’re playing loud OR soft.

The SG Special Sound: Simple. Resonant. Light. Awesome woods. Rings like a bell in your hands. Wonderful. Breathable finish. Buy one. (Subliminal: buy one!)

zZounds also sells the nicer, upscale gloss Gibson SG Special in ebony and cherry. VERY nice! They have a great ‘love your guitar’ guarantee! If you buy your gear after visiting my site and using my links, it helps me out (just being honest – no funny agenda or anything).

GibsonSGSpecialHHBodyShotbyJimPearson

Quality: My Gibson SG HH Special Limited Edition electric guitar is built like a tank. Bear in mind that all aspects of it were actually nicer than the faded models I’ve owned and played. The finish is a real plus! They did a GREAT job of the nice nitro satin finish!

Even though this is a low-end Gibson (well, in some folks’ eyes), the frets were done RIGHT on mine. I didn’t have to dress them or mess with the ends. VERY nice, smooth, shiny, and no jagged edges for my fingers to snag. I also found that there were no buzzy spots – the frets were seated very nicely.

The hardware is perfect and the solder joints were tough as nails. The soldering wasn’t as pretty as my LP Standard’s soldering joints, but they’re VERY strong and nicely applied. This new VVT (volume-volume-tone) arrangement made for a smaller control cavity and a little cramped-ness between the switch and pots. If you’re like me and you love to mod guitars like this, you’ll find that you have to be VERY careful about your planning as to what components to use and how the wiring will be routed. I think they could have put another two inches of bridge-ground wire in them for us modders… for the players out there, the ground is excellent and as quiet as a passive HH system gets.

GibsonSGSpecialHHBodyShotBackbyJimPearson

Gibson seems to be using different kinds of tuners these days when it comes to the traditional “green Key” or “keystone” type tuners. Mine came with genuine Kluson Deluxe tuners. I’ve seen others with Gibson Deluxe tuners (last time I was in touch with the Kluson folks, they told me that they’re not the same… I believe them.) I’m glad either way, because I grew up with old Les Pauls and 60s SGs with those lanky crazy green-key tuners. They’re not the most accurate or smooth tuners in the world, but hey work OK and they’ve gotten better over the years.

GibsonSGSpecialHHHeadstockBackbyJimPearson

My SG HH had Kluson Deluxes from the factory

Overall, my Gibson SG HH Special is built first class. Other than the gloss of many comparable Asian look-alikes on the market, my HH is better built than any of the ESPs, and even upper-crust Epiphones I’ve played and owned. Rock on Gibson. Thank you for doing such a great job on these low-cost wooden babies!

Value: The value of these guitars is an 8.5 out of 10, where 10 is a screamin’ steal and a 1 is “forgettable.” My only reason for these not being a 9 or 9.5 is the stop-tail config (and, I must admit, the brown color). I think these guitars are a must-buy for the budding guitarist. Remember: these days, the street price for many Chinese guitars with chock-a-block glue-hog bodies and cheap electronics are in the $500 range. No offense to the other guitars meant: I’m just saying that if you’re going to get out there and rock out ’til the clock’s out, a genuine Gibson USA SG is actually competitively priced to mid-line imports.

Interestingly enough, these street-price at less than the single-coil Melody Makers and only a little more than the 2011 single-humbucker Melody Makers (when they first hit the street).

Very high value, easy to play, sounds great, looks great, and worth the extra money to go get it a hard case – sold!

Wishes: I wish the wrap-around tailpiece had little adjustable saddles like those funky comb-shaped bridges of the 70s and early 80s. I almost want to put a Maestro Trem on it and feed the strings across saddles, but no go with the smooth simple wrap-around.

White (not distressed or TV white) and Pelham blue would have rocked the house! I don’t mind the walnut-type colors of the brown “faded” Gibsons, but I honestly felt like the dark brown of the HH Special looked like too-dark Minwax walnut over plywood – I would have preferred a black semi-gloss like the Goth series over the brown of these guitars.

Last wish? Do a Firebird and Explorer like this! I would totally eat up an HH Explorer Special!

Gibson SG Special Faded Review Still rockin’ and easy on the wallet for a USA Gibson!

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Gibson USA Faded SG Review

Gibson has some awesome 6-string hard-body electric guitars. Les Paul, Explorer, Vee, Firebird, and SG. My favorite Gibson? Any Gibson. (of course there are more, like the L6S and others…)

The Gibson USA Faded SG Special reminds me of some of the SGs I played in the early 1970s (sans shiny finish, though). VERY lightweight, mahogany, thin neck, bright rockin’ humbuckers, tulip tuners, fixed bridge, and tons of vibe. Every time you pick it up, you don’t want to put it down. Gibson has brought these things back in a modern-day form.

Free Shipping, the “love your guitar” guarantee, and more information about the Gibson USA Faded SG at zZounds.com

Quick Opinion: Like the Gibson Vintage Mahogany Les Paul, grab one. They’ll be gone and you will have missed a great instrument. This is the kind that will sell (30 years from now) on eBay for good bits of money because of the “vibe” and “mojo” of the lightweight, plain SG.

Playability: The experience of playing the faded Gibson SG is a treat. The body is very nicely balanced, very comfortable, and vibrant.
The neck gives a sense of ease – where some necks make you think about them as you play, the neck on the faded SG is effortless such that you forget about it entirely. For you thick-neck fans, this will be an adjustment – it is somewhat slimer than the big ’59 Les Paul. It feels good, and doesn’t have the roughness of many of Gibson’s “faded” guitars. It’s definitely bigger than the 60s Les Paul.

A note about necks: Gibson changes them from time to time, even year-to-year. You might find a 2007 SG Special to be big, while the 2009 might be slimmer… They aren’t always the same!

The body is comfortable, and makes itself comfortable up against your picking arm and your ribcage. The body is very light-weight, almost the lightest solid-body I’ve ever picked up. Incredibly, though, the balance of body to neck is just about 50/50.
I’ve found that the (fairly standard) setup of the bridge, stop-tail, and nut feel good, and are quite flexible. I’ve played one that was set up for slide – strings high, but still playable with fingers. I’ve played several others that were set up for easy action and quick fingering. In both cases, the guitar performed flawlessly with no buzzes or flat spots. (A few of the fret wires had fuzzy ends, but nothing that couldn’t be handled with some fret polishing paper and a little TLC.)

Features: The features of the Gibson faded SG are basic, simple, and uncomplicated. The instrument features a standard 4-knob control: neck pickup tone and volume plus bridge pickup tone and volume. This SG also has the three-way toggle pickup selector (neck, neck and bridge, bridge).
The finish is sort of a satin clear finish on brown or cherry-looking mahogany. Unlike the faded Les Pauls and faded double-cutaway Les Pauls I’ve played recently, the finish on the SG is still smooth, even though it is not gloss-polished. The faded SG feels like an old, comfortable, worn guitar friend.
This instrument is ideal for a double-humbucker split-coil plus phase modification. (Just remember! Keep all the original stuff untouched! The original stuff is pretty sweet. Future generations will appreciate an elderly instrument with its original bits.)
I like the original-style Kluson tulip/keystone green “Deluxe” tuners. They’re not the sturdiest tuners out there – but they feel like the old Gibsons I’ve played as a kid.

Sound: Simply put, this SG SINGS. When you strike a chord or pluck a low string, you can FEEL the sound. It feels like it was special tuned for its setup, strings, and woods. The set neck, unfettered mahogany, and stop-tail bridge give this guitar a VOICE.
It can be played overdriven, over-distorted, clean, reverb-y, warm and jazzy, and lots more. I’ve played several examples at my local guitar stores (I can’t purchase one at the moment – starving artist – so I researched my review with many months of “research playing” at my guitar stores) – and I’ve played them through Mesa, Peavey, Epiphone, Marshall, Fender, Crate, and others. Standing in front of a full Marshall stack (tube head), with everything on 5 and volume on about 4 – WOW – it makes every guitar player in the store salivate to hear the sound.
The Gibson USA 490R and 490T pickups are flexible and warm, but have more output than the vintage SGs around which I grew up. They’re bright without being harsh. They’re easy to push into breakup with a good amp, and they play clean/jazzy with abandon. They’re fabulous. many folks these days talk about the 490 series being dogs… I disagree. Plug in to a nice high-class Marshall half stack with a simple pedal or two for tone from Analog Man, set everything to about 6, and rip your face off! There is NO denying that these will get your jeans flappin in front of the cabs and get your feet movin’!

Value: These SGs are very much worth their street price, maybe more. They’ve been marked down from the $700 range to the $579 range in the past few months. At the new price, they are very much a bargain. (that was back in 2007 – they fluctuate in price, between $699 and $599 – depending on the season.

Bear in mind: these do not come with a hard case at this price. They ship with a Gibson gig bag. The bag is really nice and not thin like the Fender gig bags that come with the low cost models – it’s soft-plush padded and lined, and is fairly sturdy. If you want to preserve your SG, the genuine Gibson SG case (about $189 street) is well worth every cent. If you can’t swing that, at least find a durable TKL or SKG case for it. I have seen some used Gibson USA cases (made in Canada by TKL) for around $100 plus shipping on eBay. I think they’re worth it.

As I said with the Vintage Mahogany Les Paul, go to your favorite get-in-trouble guitar store and play an example or two. If you don’t have a git-box store nearby, check out your favorite online haunt and pick one up NOW.


Wishes: I only have two simple wishes: I wish they came with a Gibson hard-shell case (even one of the Epiphone ones with different logo silkscreening). I personally think every Gibson deserves to live in a Gibson case. I also wish that the 490 pickups in this guitar came with German nickel humbucker covers. I’m spoiled by the looks of the old ‘70s SGs.

P.S. Gibson, if ever there was a Gibson sponsorship for “really great guys who review guitars”, this would definitely be one of the ones! wink wink wink nudge nudge

The Epiphone EB3 Bass Guitar Long-term Experienced Review – Still rockin’!

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Epiphone by Gibson EB-3 “SG” Bass Hands-on in-depth review

I like to have different sounds in my daily guitar/bass playing. I also like to hear different sounds in my myriad recordings… I find it inspiring to have different instruments from time to time as I grow as a musician and an artist.

I could enjoy having one super-killer bass and one of each kind of guitar, but… I’m totally psyched when I pick up something different almost every day.

My basses are no exception. I really like picking up something different and recording what comes to heart – fretless, fretted, long-scale, short-scale, beautiful, bizarre, humbucker, single – you name it… If it is a bass that plays, I generally enjoy it.

With that said, I sometimes have a strong hankering for a particular feel or sound. To wit: there’s nothing like the feel of an EB bass (be it EB3, EB0, or other!).

The EB3 looks like a really long EB3 with a couple of funky humbucking pickups and giant clover tuners. It has a super-slim neck that sits in the edge of its o-so-familiar body. These are a gas to play. And my Epiphone EB3 fits the bill and then some! Great bass!

I play D’Addario Chrome flatwounds on my EB3 and enjoy the thrill of the old 60s-70s bass sounds and can still get that flatwound “mwah” if I play the strings just right. Love it. I do enjoy roundwounds on these, but I’ve got a Thunderbird for the smashing growl sounds when I need them.

Quick Opinion: The Epiphone EB3 is a modern implementation of a decades-old design that stands the test of time. It’s easy to play, relatively light, sounds great, and is really inexpensive. It even looks really cool.

The Epi EB3 is an unsung hero for bass players, and is a real treat even for beginners and pros alike. In most cases, other bass and guitar players have smiled when they pick up my EB3 (cherry gloss). I keep it well-adjusted and clean, ready to play… It often gets a coveted spot on one of my Hercules auto-grab guitar stands in one of my recording spots in our house.

Read more details about the Epiphone EB-3 electric bass here at zZounds.com. They’re awesome folks.

Playability: The Epiphone EB3 is a pleasure to play. I could end this part of the review with that one sentence… but it would be nice to talk a little more about why…

I haven’t played too many basses that aren’t neck heavy or don’t neck dive a little. Bass players the world over like to argue about “your bass neck dives and mine doesn’t.” Truth be told, almost all of them do. With that said, the neck and headstock on the EB3 is light enough that it actually is one of the more playable models. If you add a strap button to the tip of the upper horn and hang your strap from that, it gets VERY comfortable (don’t alter your guitar based on my advice… YMMV, I’m not responsible for errors you make to your instrument, etc. Please.). I am used to the way my EB3 hangs and plays, so I find it to be just right…

The neck is thin in width, more so than a Fender Jazz. But it is also thick-ish so it is easier to get a good grip. If you have small hands, this might be a good bass for you (as opposed to something like a metal bass or a P Bass – another alternative is the short-scale EB0). I have huge paws, so in my case, the neck is a delight – kind of like a big long Tele neck in most ways. The profile feels like a “D” to me.

Thanks to the shallow set-in of the neck and the double cutaway, I can reach any fret on all four strings. It’s easy to play the high notes, and the low notes are all just a stretch away… With the strap button in its factory position (the back of the bass at the neck/body joint), the body seems to push forward a bit on my strap, but it’s really nothing different than any of my SG-shaped instruments… This is largely true whether you’re playing an EB3 or a Viper or a Samick “SG bass.”

My EB3 is nicely finished, so it feels great in my hands – I really like the smooth finish and the “new” feel it has kept. If you like a satin finish (particularly on the neck), Epiphone (as of this writing) offers a “faded” satin version of the EB3 for the same price…

Epiphone EB3 Cherry Bass Jim Pearson

Sound: Here’s one of the many places the EB3 shines: It sounds great. It has a quiet humbucking nature with a mixture of strong thumpin’ and mild warm funky vintage sounds. It has a pair of very different pickups, with the bridge pickup being a tiny mini humbucker and the neck pickup being a giant heavy big-box humbucker. These sound resoundingly different than Thunderbird pickups, Fender singles, Stingray big-slug humbuckers, or Rickenbacker pickups… These are in a class of their own.

You get a nice mixture of that old warm thumpy sound you get from upright basses and that jeans-ruffling blowback THUMP of a humbucker-bred P Bass. Nice. The three-way dial pickup selector lets you choose between the two or a blend of both… It works like it should and it doesn’t disappoint.

I am a person who likes to upgrade or fiddle with his less-expensive instruments – generally to make them sound better. To tell you how I feel about the sound, I’ve left my EB3 alone, even though I’m a tech and could pop some real Gibson or DiMarzio replacement pickups in it. I like it just like it is.

The first time I plugged it in to my combo amp, I was pleasantly greeted with a sound I’ve been hearing for decades. Wonderful. Once I fed it through my tube preamp into my computer-guitar interface, I was blown away! The benefits of a 12ZX7 and a little dialing are huge! It does sound fine on its own, but with a little help it rivals my Gibson experiences.

Quality: My Epiphone EB3 bass is flawless. I have one of the older ones, and have played many of the recent makes as well. Every single one I’ve played or owned (I’ve owned two and played many more) has been pretty much perfect. The neck is solid, the body is good, and the hardware and electronics are above par.

I do wish Epiphone would stop making so many of their guitar bodies from a zillion pieces of wood and veneering the body with thin sheets… My particular bass isn’t too bad, but it still has that funky composite body. I guess that the price of the guitar is reflective of how it is made… Don’t get me wrong: the sound and heft of the bass guitar is great. It just isn’t a nice slab of mahogany.

The hardware is, in particular, top notch. The bridge works great, came almost intonated, and is nicely adjustable. The nut, tuners, plastics, and metals all are as good as most $500+ guitars. The electronics are fine, with the usual chicklet tone cap and the typical Asian pots and switch. For the most part, the guitar is reliable and is wired as good as or better than the vintage classic Asian guitars. The pickups are excellent and very consistent from individual instrument to individual instrument.

Value: This guitar is easily worth $399 or more street. I think they are under-priced in general. They are an excellent bargain at the current street retail ($299 as of this writing). You can plug it in and play it on day one without spending another nickel on it for a long time. This instrument delivers on value and bang-for-the-buck.

I have had two and will probably buy a third…

Features: The neck is a real feature on this instrument. It is a pleasure to play, and is actually a real selling point for this bass. I love my Jazz, Thunderbird, Precision, ESP Surveyor 404… but this guitar is a treat to own and play.

I like the rotary pickup switch. I don’t often have to do a blinding-fast pickup switch flip, so the rotary works fine for me. It is like it should be, and the chicken-head knob is easy to grab when you’re gigging…

The guitar’s tuners stay in tune very well, the hardware stays adjusted just fine, and the guitar has just what it needs.

Wishes: I don’t really have any wishes for this guitar. I like it pretty much just like it is.

If I were to be able to make minor adjustments to the guitar, I’d say that the body could be made of better wood construction and that the bridge pickup could be wound a little tiny bit hotter.

That’s it for now. Rock on. Buy one if you want a nice bass! It’s a plus that it is inexpensive, too!