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EB3-L "Swamp Rat"


Kelvinator

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A friend of mine brought me his EB3-L to see if I thought it was worth saving. Years ago, he lent it to a "friend" to use. Big mistake. He went to retrieve it a few months later, and found it in the guy's basement under a leaking water pipe!!! The case was destroyed, and the bass was soaked and covered in mold. It looked like it had been pulled from a swamp.... He junked the case and put the bass in a closet; that's where it's been for several years. When he brought it to me, it was absolutely the nastiest bass I'd ever seen. The entire thing was covered in mold without a bit of gloss showing. I should have taken some pics of it, but I got anal and cleaned it before really thinking about it. I just rubbed it out once to get the grime off. I didn't want to wax or polish it, as it may be up for a re-fin. Originally she had a 2 point bridge. Someone filled the holes and put on a 3 point. There are four 1/8" holes in the top about 1/2" back from the bridge pup - I have no Idea why, or what could have been there; certainly nothing original.

 

Most of the pots and the switch were frozen, but a drop of oil and some contact cleaner got them working again. I took my time with the truss rod and got the neck back in shape. I put on a cheap set of strings, set up the bridge, and plugged her in. I was amazed that everything worked, and even more amazed at the sound of this old beast - simply wonderful! The mudbucker is very clear and actually punchy (possibly due to placement and/or the 34" scale) and even the choke setting is usable! The mini HB sounds good all by itself and isn't tinny or thin sounding. She has a few high frets, so I can't get the action low enough for my taste. I'm pretty sure that once the frets are leveled, this will be one hell of a player! The bad thing is - I really really really want this thing, and it wouldn't be a wall hanger (or closet dweller). I've offered to buy it, but now that it's working & playable I don't know if He'll sell it. I'm an idiot!

 

Anyway - My buddy & I are taking her on a road trip to Lay's Guitar in Akron OH soon. I've suggested having the frets leveled and then see how good of a set up can be achieved. If it's as good as I think it will be, I'd like to see the neck professionally refinished (the body looks good - not beat, but some real mojo) The finish on the neck took a beating from the moisture and has to be refinished.

 

The Gibson serial number and CTS pot codes indicate that this is a late '72 or early '73.

Tomseb3L001-1.jpg

 

The grime you see around the control cavity is what was on the entire body

Tomseb3L006.jpg

 

Tomseb3L008.jpg

 

Thumb slivers are possible!

Tomseb3L002.jpg

 

Tomseb3L003.jpg

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I would've shot the dude for destroying a bass like that. It's coning back nice.

 

I'm confident that it will turn out very well. I just hope my friend will let me buy it. If he won't sell, I know he'd let me use it any time I wanted, but I don't like being responsible for other people's gear. I'd sure hate to see her go back in the closet for another decade; she's got too many gigs left in her for that.

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I'm confident that it will turn out very well. I just hope my friend will let me buy it. If he won't sell, I know he'd let me use it any time I wanted, but I don't like being responsible for other people's gear. I'd sure hate to see her go back in the closet for another decade; she's got too many gigs left in her for that.

 

I hope you do get it. Heck, he should just give it to. It's apparent he wasn't interested in using it.

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The mudbucker is very clear and actually punchy (possibly due to placement and/or the 34" scale) and even the choke setting is usable! The mini HB sounds good all by itself and isn't tinny or thin sounding. She has a few high frets, so I can't get the action low enough for my taste.

 

wow, that looks great given the condition it was in! too bad about the neck but it doesn't look to be too far gone.

you might be able to narrow down the date by it's features. with the mahogany neck, it's gotta be a '71 or maybe earlier.

http://www.flyguitars.com/gibson/bass/EB3.php

 

I think you're right about the location of the neck pick up, mine is not a pure mud machine although it can do it when necessary! I've heard that the 70s pickups were a little different than the 60s mudbuckers, so that might be part of it. can't say for sure but that's what Uwe says and he would know if anybody would. the scale is probably the reason the mini HB sounds better since the bridge sits back a little further.

 

hope you can score it!

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wow, that looks great given the condition it was in! too bad about the neck but it doesn't look to be too far gone.

you might be able to narrow down the date by it's features. with the mahogany neck, it's gotta be a '71 or maybe earlier.

http://www.flyguitar...on/bass/EB3.php

 

I think you're right about the location of the neck pick up, mine is not a pure mud machine although it can do it when necessary! I've heard that the 70s pickups were a little different than the 60s mudbuckers, so that might be part of it. can't say for sure but that's what Uwe says and he would know if anybody would. the scale is probably the reason the mini HB sounds better since the bridge sits back a little further.

 

hope you can score it!

 

According to the Fly site, the EB3 was redesigned in '72 with a 3 piece maple neck, volute and larger solid headstock. The '72 had a 2 point bridge, and in '73 they went to a 3 point. This bass originally had a 2 point which would indicate a '72 (someone filled the holes and installed a 3 point.) The 2 CTS pot codes that are visible read 1377233 (33rd week of '72) and 1377251(51st week of '72), so it could have been made no earlier than the last week of '72. What is confusing is the S/N "890967"; according to the Gibson serial # chart, the 800000 series was used in '73 and this is rather a high number to be an early '73. So we'll probably never know.

 

I think the 3 piece neck is what saved it from warping or twisting, and the damage is not as bad as it looks in the pic. The lacquer is flaking off, and the bare wood is just slightly scalloped from swelling. I'm sure it can be sanded and refinished without any issues. She'll never look as good as your beautiful EB3 Ramone, but hopefully she's gonna be a real player.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My buddy and I took the 2 hour trip to Lay's Guitar in Akron on Thursday. We brought the EB3L for Dan Shinn ( Lay's owner) to examine, and we were happy that he didn't find any major problems with the neck. Dan is going to level the frets, strip, sand, stain, and then refinish the neck with nitro. He also thought he could repair the cracked lacquer on the face of the headstock, without disturbing the original Gibson logo. I've taken several Gibson basses to Dan over the years for work that I'm not comfortable doing myself; Dan is a true master, and everything he's done for me has turned out beautifully. I'm sure the Swamp Rat neck re-fin will be no exception. The shop is pretty busy, so it won't be done 'til the end of March - that gives me 6 weeks to talk my friend into selling it... unsure.gif Still hoping.

 

Here's a link to Lay's: http://www.laysguitar.com/ this is the place to call for any restoration work.

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  • 1 month later...

YEAH, I know the feeling too. tBohgfp.gif61gYMDO.gif

 

Well... She's finished. Dan called my friend yesterday and said it's ready to be picked up, and that it turned out very good - which means it's probably about perfect. The bad news is that my friend has decided to keep it . He's had her for a long time and doesn't want to part with it now, and I can't really blame him. Oh well, I just hope she's not destined for another 10 years in the closet... msp_crying.gif

 

For almost 10 years, I've been totally happy with my Les Paul Standard and my Double Cut; I love the way they play and sound. I've spent many Saturday afternoons at Guitar Center or Sam Ash and walked out without wanting anything new (and that's a wonderful feeling). But after playing the "Swamp Rat" for a few days, even with the lousy action and risking slivers of old lacquer in my thumb, that old EB-3L has caused irreparable damage to my previously bass-blissful state. So now I'm looking for another Rat. I'd like to find a '72 or newer "player" or a restoration project with the original electronics. If you guys run across anything for a reasonable price, please let me know.

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So now I'm looking for another Rat. I'd like to find a '72 or newer "player" or a restoration project with the original electronics. If you guys run across anything for a reasonable price, please let me know.

 

I know what you mean. Many moons ago I picked a short scale '76 EB-3 (you know, because Jack had one). Wasn't the greatest bass out there and it had a 2 point bridge that was an absolute bear to set up. But there was something about it that hit a nerve. At one point I put a DiMarzio Model 1 in it, and for a while I thought I made it better - until I realized I took all the character out of it. Back went the Mudbucker and all was right once again. I didn't play it often enough to keep it (though I had it for a number of years).

 

Now every once in a while I get a yearning for that tone. I have an original Mudbucker laying around in my parts box (had it in my Tele bass at one point a la Sheehan) and have toyed with routing out something relatively inexpensive. Not long ago I heard my friend's '66 Epi Rivoli and it sounded great. Oh well....one day.

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It's a pity you didn't get a shot at possessing it, but in a Right On way, you helped out a friend to give life back to a REAL AXE. There's a place in 4 Stringer Heaven for you. Road Rex Approved.ccuxI2u.jpgioKd4hk.gif

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" At one point I put a DiMarzio Model 1 in it, and for a while I thought I made it better - until I realized I took all the character out of it. Back went the Mudbucker and all was right once again."

 

I have a Model 1 in my SG right now, so I know what you mean; just kinda blah... but I have an Alumitone at the bridge that helps. When I get a chance, I'm going to put the original Mudbucker and a TB+ back in. I won't be able to use it on stage due to the hum & buzz factor, but those pups sound great at home.

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It's a pity you didn't get a shot at possessing it, but in a Right On way, you helped out a friend to give life back to a REAL AXE. There's a place in 4 Stringer Heaven for you. Road Rex Approved.ccuxI2u.jpgioKd4hk.gif

 

Well - I hope there's not a place below for coveting another mans bass, and I've heard lust is bad too! I'm guilty of both, and I'm totally unrepentant... eusa_snooty.gif

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  • 5 months later...

I finally talked my buddy out of the Swamp Rat, and saved her from the closet! I gave him my MIM Fender Deluxe P and some cash for it - worth every penny! I took it to gigs Friday and Saturday, and brought the Les Paul too, but never even plugged it in. This old EB3L blows every bass I've ever played right out of the water. Wow - using the "choke" setting she put out beautiful tone: deep, clear, punchy, and still crisp. Every note was heavenly. Our sound man (an ex bottom-dweller himself) was extremely happy with the sound, and I got a lot of compliments from the band as well. My LP and my Double Cut always sound great, but the Swamp Rat is just plain better. I'm a happy guy!

 

Lay's Guitar shop did a beautiful job on the neck and headstock. Here's a slide show of some before and after shots: http://s135.photobuc...ing/Swamp%20Rat

 

038.jpg

You'll have to tip your head 'cause I can't seem to rotate right.msp_unsure.gif

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WOW! Congrats man! I was hoping you'd get it after all. I'm really happy for ya'! lPcodIX.gif

 

Thanks gsg. There is still work to do. The 3-point works OK, but I don't like it; the action is at the high-limit of my comfort zone. I tried putting the Supertone from the SG on, but it was too high; the bridge is perfect on the SG and I was surprised that it didn't work on the Rat (must be a slightly different neck angle). I'm thinking of getting another Supertone and having it milled down - there should be plenty of floor thickness to have it milled, and that will give me lower action and the ability to set the string heights to the neck radius. The Supertone also covers 90% of the old 2-point holes. All in all, I'm extremely happy with the Swamp Rat - it just feels right, and I love the sound, Maybe 'cause it's old... like me! cool.gif

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Thanks gsg. There is still work to do. The 3-point works OK, but I don't like it; the action is at the high-limit of my comfort zone. I tried putting the Supertone from the SG on, but it was too high; the bridge is perfect on the SG and I was surprised that it didn't work on the Rat (must be a slightly different neck angle). I'm thinking of getting another Supertone and having it milled down - there should be plenty of floor thickness to have it milled, and that will give me lower action and the ability to set the string heights to the neck radius. The Supertone also covers 90% of the old 2-point holes. All in all, I'm extremely happy with the Swamp Rat - it just feels right, and I love the sound, Maybe 'cause it's old... like me! cool.gif

 

Smoking Kelvinator!!!! Congrats! Excellent work on the cosmetics too.

 

It is surprising the Supertone didn't work, but being an "L" I wouldn't put it past them if they did exactly that. Plenty of meat for milling if you want to go that route. Is the 3 point as low as it can go right now?

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Smoking Kelvinator!!!! Congrats! Excellent work on the cosmetics too.

 

Is the 3 point as low as it can go right now?

 

Thanks, and yes, in it's current state. The 3-point has un-cut nylon saddles, so there's no radius across them. I bought a replacement set of chrome Gibson saddles (for cheap) which are slotted, and the A & D saddles are slightly taller than the E & G; that will take care of the radius issue, and hopefully I can bottom the bridge out for the lowest possible action. Now I'm thinking that I'd like to keep the 3-point if I can get the action down. This bass sounds so good I don't know if I should change that bridge - what if the Hipshot changes the tone? msp_confused.gif If the 3-pt just won't work, I'll get a Supertone and have it milled. I'll post the results in a few days.

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congrats on scoring the Rat! Lay's did a fine job!

 

the Allparts saddles for the 3 point bridge are maybe 1/8" shorter than the Gibson saddles. they also match the fretboard radius. I think they're intended to be Epi replacement parts but they'll work on a Gibson bridge.

 

http://www.allparts.com/BP-2075-001-Bass-Saddle-Set_p_1056.html

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congrats on scoring the Rat! Lay's did a fine job!

 

the Allparts saddles for the 3 point bridge are maybe 1/8" shorter than the Gibson saddles. they also match the fretboard radius. I think they're intended to be Epi replacement parts but they'll work on a Gibson bridge.

 

http://www.allparts....Set_p_1056.html

 

Thanks Ramone - Good to know. The saddles I bought are Chrome MIJ. they were listed as: New Chrome Gibson Bass Bridge Saddles Epiphone EB-0 EB-3, so maybe they are Epiphone. 1/8" shorter would allow plenty of adjustment, but I'm rarely that lucky msp_unsure.gif.

We'll see...

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I got the saddles yesterday, and plopped them in before rehearsal. They are not very good quality, and definitely not MIJ, Gibson, or Epiphone quality (ya gets what ya pays fer). The D saddle doesn't sit down in the slot properly and rocks from side to side, but it's not a big problem with tension on it. The string slots show coarse file marks and are kind of crude, and the plating is just so-so. But they did the trick! I have plenty of height adjustment on the bridge, and the string radius is correct. The action is as good as my Les Paul now, and that's about perfect. She plays beautifully, and the tone is a tad brighter too. I'm really looking forward to playing it this weekend.msp_biggrin.gif

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  • 5 months later...

I'm having trouble with the 4-way switch on the Rat. It often doesn't make a good connection when switching settings, and crackles until it's wiggled enough to work (very annoying on stage). I've cleaned the pots and the switch several times; the pots are OK but there's no hope for the switch. My question is - can I replace the switch with a 3-way toggle and still have the choke? I just need 3 positions as I'd never use the bridge pup alone: 1- neck, 2 - neck & bridge, 3 - neck choked. This bass sounds great, and I don't want to change that, or make changes that aren't easily reversible. I would prefer a toggle switch over a rotary.

 

Any advice would be appreciated - I know just enough about wiring to be dangerous...

 

Tomseb3L008.jpg

 

Brown - center lug bridge pot

Red - center lug neck pot

Blue - 1st lug neck pot

Thin Black - choke

Cloth Black - jack

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