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Since its introduction in 1953, the Gibson EB has been no stranger to change. Its original short-scale build included a solid violin-shaped mahogany body (complete with painted f-hole and telescoping endpin), mahogany neck, and an oversized single-coil butted up against the neck. Its loose and bottom-heavy tones weren’t necessarily a huge hit with bassists at the time (Fender already had a two-year head start with the venerable Precision), but the EB did offer a unique palette of tones that set its path for decades to come.
Gibson continued to tweak the EB formula—most notably in the ’60s by using an SG-derived body shape and then a complete rework in 2013 by incorporating an offset-style design and modern electronics. Fast-forward to today and the new EB 4—the company’s most focused attempt at building an EB that excels in tone, clarity, playability, and versatility.
The new EB’s body shape is even less “Gibson-like” than its 2013 predecessor, and nothing like other past iterations bearing the EB name. If anything, the elongated upper horn, offset compact body, and pickup placement struck me as more Tobias-esque after I pulled it out of its included gig bag. While on the subject of cases, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t come with a hardshell case like the previous EB model did—especially since they’re the same price.
The EB’s swamp-ash body is available in two satin-lacquer finishes: vintage sunburst or natural. Our review bass was finished in natural and I really liked how the satin sealer made the wood grain pop while still looking somewhat raw and understated. Gibson says on their site that the body is “2-3” pieces, which could give some players pause—especially if you are considering spending a grand on a bass and want to know exactly what you’re getting before placing an order. Our tester had a 3-piece body and was assembled very well with no bumps or ridges in the finish or at the joints.
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