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Gibson Bass Guitar - Gibson Bass Guitars - Gibson Guitar Corporation, Gibson’s faces off with Fender, Iconic Gibson bass guitars

Still Making History

electric thunderbird series popular

A bass guitar, more properly known as an electric bass, is a stringed instrument that looks much like a regular electric guitar. It has a longer neck, and usually has four strings tuned to have the same pitch as that of a traditional double bass (the very large, upright string instrument one might see in a symphony orchestra). Bass guitars can be played in a variety of styles and with or without picks. One technique called “slapping” is where a string is plucked (generally by the thumb) hard enough to bounce off the bass’s body, giving the note a percussive reverberation. Anyone who has heard the theme song from “Seinfeld” or the short snip of music used between scenes on that show has heard a “slap bass” sound, albeit via a keyboard sample.

Bass guitars are most commonly used within musical groups to lay down a bassline, anchoring the harmony of the song and keeping the rhythm along with the percussionist.

Gibson Guitar Corporation

Founded in the 1890s by Orville Gibson, Gibson Guitar Corporation was offering the first commercially available hollow-body acoustic guitars by the 1930s. The 1950s saw Gibson’s first electric guitar, the immortal Les Paul that still remains a mainstay of the company today. Though the corporation fell on very hard times and almost went bankrupt in the 1980s, it rebounded, and still manufactures and sells electric and acoustic guitars under its own name and other brands, including Epiphone, once a major competitor. Gibson also owns the well-known Baldwin (pianos) and Slingerland (drums) brands of instruments.

Gibson’s faces off with Fender

In 1953, responding to rival Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company’s success with the first mass-produced electric bass, the Precision Bass (P-Bass), Gibson released their own bass guitar, the Electric Bass (or EB). Since then, Gibson has released popular bass guitars both of its own make and through acquisition of other electric bass manufacturers like Tobias.

Iconic Gibson bass guitars

While Fender is still a very popular bass guitar brand, Gibson’s bass guitars have earned their own special place in rock and roll history. Two major series have been the EB-n and Thunderbird bass guitars.

The EB-n series started with the EB-1 (a renamed Electric Bass) in 1958. Since then there have been five EB series from 0 to 4L. Arguably one of the most popular of the EB models would be the EB-3. Produced from 1961-1979, it had greater tonal pickup than its predecessor, the EB-0, and can be considered as a classic 60s rock bass. Notable bassists who used the EB-3 are Jack Bruce of Cream and Bill Wyman, bassist for the Rolling Stones.

The Thunderbird was designed by automotive designer Ray Dietrich and has a shape reminiscent of the huge-finned cars of the late 50s and early 60s. The Thunderbird came in two series, the Thunderbird II and Thunderbird IV. The Thunderbird IV’s most recent incarnation is still manufactured today. The late John Entwhistle of the Who and Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe are two famous Thunderbird bassists.

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