This era-authentic pairing—Gibson and Sunn—blends humbucking output with 40 watts of EL34 amp power and a pair of 12" speakers.
Gibson introduced its first electric bass guitar in 1953 and initially named it, aptly enough, Electric Bass, although it’s better known today as the EB-1. It was followed by various EB models over the next several years, including the semi-hollow EB-2 in 1958 and the double-cutaway solidbody EB-0 in 1959. By the end of 1959, a semi-hollow 6-string bass debuted and was named the EB-6. Poor sales caused Gibson to replace it with a solid SG-style body version in late 1961 that retained the EB-6 name. The company catalog touted: “A new and exciting treat for bass players. A 6-string electric bass which gives a full octave lower guitar tuning on a regular bass scale length.”
The new solidbody EB-6 started with a single pickup, as on the previous model, but soon added a second humbucker. (Only a small number of single-pickup models were produced.) The 1963 Gibson catalog described the instrument’s features: “New extra-thin custom-contoured double-cutaway body design. Slim, fast, low-action neck joins body at the 17th fret. One-piece mahogany neck, adjustable truss rod, rosewood fingerboard, pearl dot inlays. Combination bridge and tailpiece adjustable horizontally and vertically. Two powerful humbucking pickups. New nickel-plated string damper. Hand brace mounted on pickguard. Heavy-duty machine heads with metal buttons.” As luck would have it, inadequate sales also caused the solidbody EB-6 to be discontinued by 1966 (but, according to the Gibson Shipment Totals book, two stragglers shipped in 1967). Only about 68 of these basses were manufactured, and Wes Montgomery and the Cars’ Ben Orr are among the model’s notable users.
The bar-style combination bridge allows horizontal and vertical adjustment and includes a mute before the bar.
The 1962 EB-6 pictured has the features typical of the two-pickup edition. These include a cherry red contoured SG-shaped solid mahogany body, a 30 1/2"-scale 1-piece mahogany neck joining the body between the 17th and 18th fret, a 20-fret rosewood fretboard with dot inlays, and two standard guitar humbuckers. On this example, the neck pickup is still a PAF. The nickel-plated parts include large-button Kluson tuners, a bar bridge/tailpiece, a metal hand rest between the pickups, and a string mute. The original price was $325. The current value for one in excellent all-original condition is $7,500.
The neck humbucker in this guitar is a vintage PAF. The original solidbody EB-6 had just one pickup, in the neck slot, like its semi-hollow ancestors.
The amp behind the bass is a 1967 Sunn Solarus combo. Two EL34 tubes push 40 watts of power through two 12" speakers. It has bright and normal channels with controls for treble, bass, and contour along with knobs for the vibrato and reverb. The current value for the amp is $750.
Note the classic early Gibson headstock profile as well as the nickel-plated large profile Kluson tuners.
Sources for this article include Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years by A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty’s Golden Era—1948- 1966 by Gil Hembree, and Gibson Shipment Totals: 1937-1979 by Larry Meiners.