10 Champions of the Gibson EB Bass
Launched in the late ‘50s, the EB line of Gibson basses has long been known for the instrument’s warm, distinctive tone and exceptional playability. The 2017 EB models enhance that legacy further by adding a modern look and feel that will appeal to any player seeking a combination of power, punch and clarity. Available as both a 4-string and 5-string, the 2017 Gibson EB bass constitutes a worthy addition to the lineage of this iconic instrument. Below, we profile 10 acclaimed players for whom the Gibson EB has been indispensable.
Jack Bruce (Cream)
It’s a safe bet that no bass player was better known for his love of the Gibson EB-3 than Jack Bruce was, during his time with Cream. Rolling Stone once rightly pointed out that most musicians would find it hard to distinguish themselves while teamed with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, but Bruce’s gifts were such that he managed that with ease. “I think of myself as a very experimental and diverse musician, but without being too far out all the time,” Bruce once told Rock Cellar magazine. “I think that’s my kind of success.”
Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper)
Take an audio trip back through the original Alice Cooper band’s early ‘70s catalog, and you’ll discover that a striking number of the group’s songs began with memorable bass lines. That’s no surprise, given the immense talent and melodic gifts of bassist Dennis Dunaway. Dunaway’s original Gibson EB-0—which you can see on the back cover of the Love It to Death album—now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “We called it the ‘’Frog,” Dunaway told writer Gail Worley. “I sprayed it metallic green because I used to do model cars and that was my favorite color.”
Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones)
The late great producer Jim Dickinson—who, incidentally, played piano on the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses”—may well have been Bill Wyman’s biggest fan. “Wyman’s bass parts are compositional,” he often said, in the years after Wyman left from the band. “Whoever is playing bass with the Stones [now] ought to play them [as they were written].” Often utilizing an EB-3, Wyman created an essential foundation that held together all the Stones’ classic material. “Wyman is absolutely key to what they do,” Dickinson rightly observed.
Andy Fraser (Free)
A founding member of Free--at the ripe age of 15--Andy Fraser co-wrote several hits for the band, including the classic rock staple, “All Right Now.” Fraser was also, in the opinion of many, one of rock’s all-time great bass players. His love for the Gibson EB-3 was unequivocal. “I was immediately at home with the EB-3,” he once said. “One could get a wide variety of tones [with it]. I really felt at one with that model.”
Trevor Bolder (David Bowie, Uriah Heep)
The role that Trevor Bolder played in David Bowie’s Ziggy-era “Spiders from Mars” band can hardly be overstated. Utilizing a short-scale EB-3, Bolder achieved precisely the right tone for the tasty, percolating lines that course through the early ‘70s albums that lifted Bowie to stardom. Bolder’s bass work with the EB-3 become even more adventurous in a live setting—something clearly evident on the 1983 film release, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars—The Motion Picture.
Chris White (The Zombies)
Bassist Chris White might not be a household name, but classic-rock listeners know his work well, whether they realize it or not. Along with Rod Argent, White was the Zombies’ driving creative force, penning more than half the songs on the band’s 1968 masterpiece, Odessey and Oracle. Four years later, he and Argent co-wrote the 1972 classic, “Hold Your Head Up.” White’s favorite bass? An EB-3.
Jermaine Jackson (The Jackson 5)
Michael’s big brother proved himself to be an outstanding musician in his own right. A key member of The Jackson 5, Jackson can be seen plucking a Gibson EB-3 in countless early video clips of the band. Following his split with the Jackson 5, Jermaine remained at Motown, and was later nominated for a Grammy for his 1980 album, Let’s Get Serious. His production work for other artists has been lauded as well.
Jim Lea (Slade)
Jim Lea was not only the most accomplished musician in Slade—he was also, along with frontman Noddy Holder, the band’s principle songwriter. After starting out playing a Gibson EB-0, he switched to an EB-3 in the late ‘60s, utilizing the instrument on essentially all of Slade’s classic material. Songs such as “Gudbuy T’ Jane” and “Cum on Feel the Noize” owe much of their power to Lea’s distinctive tone.
Mike Watt (The Stooges)
Post-punk bassist Mike Watt has earned reams of praise for his work in the Minutemen, Firehose, and various other projects. His role as bassist in the reunited configuration of the legendary punk band, the Stooges, solidified his reputation as a powerhouse musician. Speaking with Flyguitars.com about his love of the Gibson EB-3, Watt said, “I like the character of the Gibson. It has its own trip. I also like the way the body sits…. You don't have this big horn, and it's light….”
Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull)
A founding member of prog-rockers Jethro Tull, Glenn Cornick was once praised by Rolling Stone for providing the band with a “stout, nimble underpinning … the vital half of a blues-ribbed, jazz-fluent rhythm section.” During his time with Tull—a period that covered the band’s first three studio albums—Cornick actually played four Gibson basses: a ’59 EB-0, a ’69 EB-3, an EB-2 and a reverse-bodied Thunderbird. “For the music I was playing with Tull, the short scale Gibson had a fullness of tone that was very suited to the sound of the band,” he later said.