Gibson, EB-3, 1966 - Jack Bruce


Serial Number: 
One-piece Mahogany
Humbucking pickups
This guitar was made at the Kalamazoo Plant, USA approximately in 1966
The Story Behind


About the Builder (from Wikipedia):

The Gibson EB-3 is an electric bass guitar model produced by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.

Introduced in 1961, the EB-3 (based on an earlier model, the EB-1) was one of the bass guitar equivalents of the popular Gibson SG. It featured a slim SG-style body, a short 30.5" scale, and two pickups (one large humbucking pickup in the neck position and one mini-humbucker pickup in the bridge position). The electronics consisted of a four-way switch and associated volume and tone knobs for each pickup. The standard finish was cherry red (like the SG guitar models), though EB-3s were also produced in other finishes such as Polaris White, Pelham Blue, and ebony.

The design of the bass guitar changed several times during the 1960s. In 1962, the black plastic cover on the neck pickup was replaced by a metal one. Around 1964/5, nickel plated hardware was replaced by chrome plated. Around 1966/7 the neck was replaced with a thinner one; the unadjustable bar bridge was replaced by a fully adjustable one with a nylon saddle for each string; the string guard was removed; a bridge guard was introduced and the knobs were replaced with the witch-hat design. In 1969 and 1970, the headstock was replaced with a slotted one (similar to those on most classical guitars), with tuning keys mounted at ninety degrees downwards behind the head. In the 1970s, the position of the pickups on the body was changed and moved closer to the bridge, and maple, instead of mahoganywas used for the neck. In addition to the Gibson EB-3, a long-scale (34") model, called the EB-3L, was introduced for players who preferred the longer 34" scale as featured on most Fender bass models). The EB-3 was discontinued in 1979, though according to Gibson the current SG Standard Bass is its "spitting image."

Epiphone produces both a more affordable EB-3 similar to the original.

About the Guitar:

This is Jack Bruce's famous 1966 Gibson EB3 bass that was bought brand new by Jack in 1967 and used with Cream as his main instrument. He also used this bass through the early 1970's with West, Bruce and Laing. This bass was used on tour and in the studio with Cream. Among other it was used on the great recordings "Sunshine Of Your Love" and White Room". An article (foldout poster) from Guitar World November 1997 describes the history of the bass in detail.

While many musicians change instruments as often as they change their
 clothes, this is the instrument most commonly associated with the early career of Jack Bruce and was his primary bass for recording and Live performances.

"I was trying to play the bass guitar like a guitar, as opposed to a

Jack Bruce in BASS PLAYER magazine, 1993.

The following was the text published when Bruce Gary decided to sell the bass, he had traded from Jack Bruce:

Jack Bruce's concept and development of playing the bass as a guitar
 in Cream proved to be a watershed in the history of the electric bass,
 and it established a new standard of creativity for an entire generation
of bassists. For Bruce, playing the electric bass "like a guitar" was not merely a matter of cranking the volume, flinging out lots of notes and bending strings-although he certainly did those things. He believed that bass lines should be melodic and contrapuntal as well as supportive, and in asserting this concept in Cream he elevated
 bassists to a new position of importance in rock bands. The "Jack Bruce
 tone" he developed in Cream was far from the smooth, deep tone considered
 the "ideal" electric bass sound in 1966. This is one of the reasons Bruce
 selected the Gibson EB3 as his primary instrument.

The EB3 was the perfect
 choice; a short-scale bass with a raw, biting tone (further enhanced with
 electric modifications done by Dan Amstrong) and light-gauge strings that were easy to bend.
The EB3 bass was also a good visual match for the custom-painted Gibson SG that Eric Clapton often played, and it was about as non-standard as a bass could be in those days. Just holding it made a statement about Bruce's approach to bass
 During his Cream career, Bruce's potent sound was pushed to the foreground
 and his contrapuntal approach became bolder. Rather
 than outlining chords,he constructed melodic lines that complemented-and
 challenged-Clapton's increasingly complex guitar parts. Bruce often used
 minor thirds against major chords, which deepened the blues feel on even
 the most overtly psychedelic pop tunes. His parts were, quite literally,
 becoming more "guitar-like" while still providing a solid

The Description of the Gibson EB3 from the 1965-66 Gibson Guitar catalog

"Here is the ultimate in an ultra thin, hand contoured solid body
 Gibson Electric Bass. The delicately balanced design automatically adjusts
 into a natural, comfortable playing position with or without
 a strap.
 FEATURES: New extra thin, custom contoured, double cutaway body
 Chrome-plated metal parts. New, extra slim, fast, low-action neck
 joins body at 17th fret. One-piece Mahogany neck, adjustable
 Truss Rod. Rosewood fingerboard, pearl dot inlays. Two powerful
 Humbucking pickups for greater tonal range. New four position switch for
 versatile tonal response.
 New Chrome-plated string damper. Hand brace mounted on pickguard.
 individual machine heads with metal buttons. 12" wide, 16" long, 1 5/8"
 thin; 30" scale, 20 frets. Cherry finish."

Jack Bruce's EB3, serial number 333147 The 4-way switch had an extra
 "baritone" setting for the neck pickup. During the 1968 Cream farewell
 tour, Jack replaced 3 of the 4 Gibson volume and tone knobs with white
 fender knobs. These were switched back to the regular Gibson knobs after
 Cream disbanded. Dan Armstrong made electronic modifications by adding a
 capacitor to retain/accentuate the "bumblebee" sound when not being used
though Marshall Stack amplifiers. Bruce used light gauge La Bella brand strings
and together with the shorter scale meant lower string tension that
contributed to Bruce's dexterous fretwork.
 In 1984, Jack Bruce traded this EB3 to long time friend and associate
 Bruce Gary, formerly of the recording group The Knack.
 Bruce had since moved on to using a Warwick fretless bass, which has since
 honored him in 1990 by producing 90 Jack Bruce signature limited editions (in the meantime a limited edition has also been issued for the Cream reunion concerts in 2005, see Warwick bass in our TYS collection).

This EB3 has been featured in many guitar and artist publications,
 including a centerfold presentation in Guitar World (November 1997). The
 Gibson EB3 will long be associated with Jack Bruce, and perhaps the
world's most popular guitar riff in "Sunshine Of Your Love" (Written by Jack 

More on Jack Bruce's equipment:

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