Historically, Fender gets most of the glory when it comes to the electric bass, but the single pickup Gibson EB-0 - Gibson's start-up bass launched in 1961 - and the dual pickup EB-3 have their own place in rock 'n' roll history.
Both had a shorter scale length than the standard set by Fender and the EB-3 in particular was held in high esteem and championed by many respected players. Although cheaper Epiphone EB models have appeared, neither EB model has been available under the Gibson banner for some time. Until now...
In spite of the 'Reissue' designation this SG Bass is actually a brand new model, but to all intents and purposes it is the latest modification of the EB-3 and the continuation of the line.
It's a stripped down version, being a touch less complicated electronically with just three controls. Individual volumes are provided for the two pickups and a single tone control, with each sporting the standard black top hat control knobs with silver inserts.
The cover plates have obviously gone too, but otherwise all is pretty much in keeping with traditional styling. With the standard SG pickguard, short scale length and neat headstock from the early days - rather than the bulky ones that followed - all is just as it should be.
The bridge used here is the combo variety rather than the early single saddle bridge/tailpiece so offers much greater string adjustment, while the open gear 'Shamrock' tuners return again in all their splendour.
This is certainly a fine-looking instrument, particularly in this wine red finish, that retains all the pedigree and glory of this illustrious range.
Thanks to its slim, diminutive body and short scale length the SG Reissue is a very handy instrument to tote around. Even the weight is very acceptable.
This makes it a very comfortable bass to play, even though the guitar-sized body with the strap button positioned at the heel of the neck does mean it's rather headstock heavy - but then show us a Gibson bass that isn't!
There's a substantial feel to the neck and, as the fingerboard is relatively flat, the edge of the 'board does seem a little angular. If you're a fan of Gibson basses then the chances are that you like a sound with plenty of thump. Well rest assured that this model is more than happy to oblige.
The combination of the shorter playing scale and the two humbucking pickups is designed to give maximum bottom end, but the simpler circuit actually allows the sound to breathe more than on the old EB-3, so a cleaner edge is available.
This serves to give the SG a more palatable tonal imprint and acknowledges the requirements of today's bass player. And with such a significant difference between the two humbuckers some very interesting sounds can be unleashed when blending.
Rather than the warm hollows produced by two identical pickups this has more of a honky element that's ideal for funk playing, or even some heavy rock, as the notes are exceptionally well defined.
Perhaps the most rewarding sounds available come from using the massive humbucker all on its own with a little tonal tweaking depending on individual taste. It's a huge sound and the kind that could only be made by a Gibson. Lovely stuff!
It must be said that Gibson's output of serious bass guitars over the last few years has been nothing short of, well, pathetic. Apart from the odd custom build or limited edition there's been little to really whet the appetite. Now at last it seems that things have changed.
With such an illustrious pedigree, though, we half-expected to be a bit disappointed with this simplified model. In fact it continually amazed us with its forceful delivery and sumptuous looks.
The SG shape was a serious turning point in guitar history and never has a bass version looked so good when using an identical body design. This SG reissue offers all of the feel and performance qualities associated with this classic range and, as such, is a welcome addition to the on-going saga that is Gibson's curious bass designs.
Should you desire a brand new, full-on EB-3 with the four controls and a four-way selector then you have to look at the Epiphone version. This budget-line instrument is actually a very good buy and represents excellent value.
Of course, we'd like to see the reintroduction of the EB-3 in its full glory, but for now the SG Reissue Bass is a welcome return to the halcyon days of the early sixties. Great to have it back, but you have to wonder why it's taken so long...