The Gibson Les Paul bass guitar was first manufactured in 1969, just after the relaunch of the Les Paul guitar in 1968.
The Les Paul Bass captures the classic construction and elegant look of the Les Paul electric guitar, in a bass with a body proportioned to its length
The first model simply called "Les Paul Bass", had a few interesting features, most notably low impedance circuitry, especially designed for recording in the studio. It had a Honduras mahogany body with a three-piece mahogany set neck with 24 frets, and a 30 1/2" scale. Besides volume and tone control it had a number of tone-shaping switches (passive circuitry) and two oval humbuckers.
The original Les Paul Bass turned out to be a flop, and in 1971 the model was redesigned and renamed name Les Paul Triumph. This model had built-in switching to change from low to high impedance, but was, in essence, much the same, using the same woods and construction.
A hollow body version was created in 1973, named the Les Paul Signature bass. This was a long scale bass (34½") with double cutaways. Very different from the preceding models, but still bearing the Les Paul name.
All Les Paul Bass models were once discontinued in 1979.
In recent times Gibson has concentrated on its classic designs, and in the early 1990’s decided to give the Les Paul bass another chance. Offerings included flattop versions (Deluxe and Special) and a carved-top Standard model. Les Paul basses were available in 4 or 5-string models. The first 1990’s version of the Standard model featured Bartolini electronics and pickups. This version is recognisable because there is no pickup selector switch.
The most recent incarnation of the Les Paul Standard bass, introduced in 1997, featured a strategic placement of several tone chambers enhancing resonance while also reducing the guitar’s overall weight and a classic tone-wood combination of a mahogany body with solid carved maple top. The glued-in solid-mahogany neck is cut to the superior “quarter-sawn” grain orientation for improved strength and the optimum transfer of resonance between neck and body. This Standard model also featured passive electronics with TB Plus pickups, which are very high output humbuckers with ceramic magnets. This version features a three-way pickup selector switch. The Les Paul Standard bass was discontinued in 2006.
In 2011, the Gibson Les Paul Bass, known as “oversized” as the body was actually 1/8-inch bigger all-round, was released. The difference between the Les Paul Standard Bass is that it has a now also a stop-tail and tune-o-matic bridge.
This 2013 Gibson Les Paul Bass was owned and played by John Payne, bassist and lead vocalist, most prominently for the group Asia. It was used on the forthcoming ASIA featuring John Payne album Americana and used in over 250 shows with his co-creation “Raiding The Rock Vault”, the premier rock musical and show in Las Vegas, winner of the best musical in “Best of Vegas” in 2014 and 2015.
The bass guitar in action: