New Bass Day! Behold, My 1975 Gibson G-3 Grabber Bass!
My life changing concert? Seeing Green Day at the Arizona State Fair on November 1st 1994. The boys were still on their Dookie tour, shortly after their infamous performance at Woodstock 1994 and “When I Come Around” had not even become a hit single yet, and Mike Dirnt was still playing his Gibson G-3 Grabber Bass. I was a freshman in high school, barely 15, and super sick, hocking up all these bloody loogies and junk but nothing was going to stop me from going to the fair that day. There were probably a million kids there, (maybe billions, I don’t know, I didn’t count) to see the show, these guys had brightly colored hair and wore spiked or studded bands and super baggy clothes…the baggiest (we wore lots of fabric in the 90’s). The show was amazing. I remember it being loud, jumping all around, being squished up against all the people, sweating, smelling weird things, smoke clouds, and trying out the pit for the first time. It was all new to me and I knew I wanted to be part of this life style.
Fast forward 23 1/2 years later…
…and now I want to be part of the life style that owns the bass Mike Dirnt was playing at that show. For whatever reason these basses have gotten much more expensive lately so I picked a price point I can actually afford and created a saved eBay search to watch for one to pop up in my price range. Recently an auction with a starting price of $700 and a buy it now for $925 with $50 shipping was listed. I watched this auction for several days planning to try to scoop it up close to $700. No one bid on it, but I was sure someone would snatch this thing up and soon. Here’s what the description of the listing said:
This beautiful Gibson G-3 bass guitar was a gift – I never learned to play it but have decided it needs to be loved. It comes with the original case which is in fairly good condition. There are two worn spots on the back side of the body, and I have been told that the neck is bent. It is still playable as of a few months ago. The serial number is 962438 which makes it from the early 70’s. Please ask if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer as best I can.
I did my own research and figured out that the serial number was from around 1975 which is is the first year Gibson made G3’s. I looked at the pictures and determined I can be the guy to love it. I was concerned about the bent neck and talked to the seller about the it and got some more pictures. It looked like the action was really high but not twisted. The seller said in their opinion it was twisted. I decided to do some good ol’ bass guitar algebra and deduce that “bent neck” + non-bassist owner = I can have this bass cheap and it’s probably a simple truss rod adjustment or at least it can hang out with me in the desert and dry out a bit to see if that helps.
On May 4th eBay ran a “May the 4th be with you” sale so I would save $100 by buying it now so I pulled the trigger and got it for $875 total instead of risking losing the auction by waiting until the last minute to bid.
My new bass arrived May 14th, 2018.
Here are some of the highlights, low lights, and my initial thoughts:
- The neck joint is stamped with 1975, serial number aligns with 1975, so this is a first year Gibson G-3 Grabber Bass. (I still need to figure out how to date pots.)
- The pickups are really neat. They are housed in a clear plastic, lucite kind of material. On the backside of them you can see bubbles in the material where they poured it. The copper winding is also visible through the lucite. It’s neat and I guess they only did this for the first couple years.
- There is buckle rash on the back and screws on the neck plate seem to have some wear.
- Missing the bridge cover. It would be cool to have for completeness, but I would take it off if I had it so I don’t care.
- The bridge issues:
- Neck is in good condition. Saddles need to be adjusted. Original owner had them set way too high.
- Pickup switch works great.
- Knobs seem to work fine, but I need a better idea of what they actually do. They do not seem to be a volume and tone as I had assumed they would be.
- Overall build quality is lower than I would have guessed. These must have been entry level basses back in the day. Overall it reminds me more of wooden furniture from the 70’s than an American mad Gibson guitar.
- Original hardshell case is in pretty good condition. One area is damaged but it’s good mojo. 7/10, wouldn’t replace or change.
- This bass sounds like a beast on my Ampeg SVT-VR and 6×10 cab.
- I can’t wait to get the neck fixed up so I can play this a lot more at practice.
Check out my latest Gibson G-3 Grabber Bass post!