Long believed to be a prototype for a possible Gibson Gene Simmons signature guitar, this bass was actually a heavily modified 1959 or 1960 Gibson EB-0. The exact year is unknown but Gibson transitioned away from this body type to an SG-style body in 1961. Only 465 EB-0 basses with this Junior/Special/TV look were shipped from the factory. During those two years, 1959 and 1960, the EB-0 was only available in one color and all 465 shipped with the translucent “modern cherry-red finish”. Both the body and single piece neck were mahogany and the 20 fret fingerboard was rosewood. It had a short 30½" scale which matched the LoBue but unlike the massive heel of the LoBue the EB-0 had a sleek neck joint and even though the neck joined the body at the 17th fret all 20 frets were easily accessible. (The 1960 Gibson catalogue noted that the double cutaway and neck joint “brings the entire length of the fingerboard within easy reach”.)
Since this particular body shape was only used for 465 instruments, 1959 or 1960 EB-0 basses are highly collectible. If they are more or less original that is. This bass has been modified within an inch of its life and the only value it has now is basically because it was once played by Gene. But about those modifications, let’s go from the top down:
• The original EB-0 has rear-facing banjo style tuners but Gene’s EB-0 seems to have Schaller M4 tuners.
• The body has been re-finished black and given top edge binding.
• The original pickup, which was located in the neck position, has been removed and in its stead we find a ca. 1970 Gibson replacement humbucker embossed with the Gibson logo that’s mounted much closer to the bridge.
• The new placement of the pickup necessitated a new, larger 3-ply black pickguard.
• The original bridge has been replaced by a Leo Quan Badass which is hidden under a Thunderbird-style bridge cover. There are also newly added string ferrules so that the strings are loaded through the body.
(All info from the January 2007 issue of Vintage Guitar)
Up until early August 1976 the Gibson Les Paul Triumph was still the backup bass of choice. The Triumph can be seen in a backstage instrument lineup from Dayton, Ohio 1976-08-08 and the heavily modified Gibson EB-0 doesn't make its first known live appearance until Cleveland, Ohio on 1976-09-03. There is also a blurry backstage photo supposedly from Oakland, California 1976-08-22 and the instrument shown there is obviously a long-scale bass so it isn't the Gibson EB-0. With those dates in mind – and lacking further photo evidence – I think it’s safe to assume that there was a switch made some time in late August.
The EB-0 made its most high-profile appearances when it was used for the taping of the Paul Lynde Helloween Special in late October and the promo videos for Don Kirschner's Rock Concert in early November. One interesting thing happened to the Gibson EB-0 between the Paul Lynde taping and the next known appearance. Looking closely at the photos - closeups provided below - one can see that there are additional screws in the pickguard. The pickguard had been cut and according to the article in Vintage Guitar it had gotten some additional routing under the pickguard. It seems likely that this was done to move the volume and tone knobs to a position that suited Gene getter but we don't know for sure as the new routing wasn't used before the bass was retired.
After a brief run during the '76-'77 Winter Tour it makes its last known appearance in Columbia, South Carolina on 1977-02-27. Once the band hit Japan in March/April 1977 we don’t know whether the Gibson EB-0 was still part of the instrument lineup but there is one rehearsal photo which seems to suggest that it might have been supplanted by the Dan Armstrong at that point.