The Gibson Bass Guitar

Back in the days of my early adulthood, I found myself in various situations that were neither familiar nor followed any known script.  Thankfully, I seemed to manage those things without getting suckered too badly and/or causing too much trouble for myself or others.  Thus, when I was living in a barracks building and one of the other guys asked me to loan him $100.00 until payday, I deferred.  Lending money to anyone is fraught with danger and in 1983 or 1984, $100.00 was worth quite a bit more than it is today, especially for a junior enlisted guy like I was at the time.  A few hours later, the same fellow approached with a different arrangement; I would lend him $100.00 and he in turn would give me his Bass Guitar to hold onto until he paid me back.  I looked at the rather nice Gibson Grabber bass complete with road case and said okay.

Now, this guy took that $100.00 and for some reason that was never clear, stole his roommate’s car that night and went UA.  He was arrested a few days later some distance away near the border to another state.  He never returned to me my $100.00 and I never returned to him his guitar.

1978 Gibson Grabber Bass Guitar with original hard road case
1978 Gibson Grabber Bass Guitar with original hard road case

Over the ensuing years, I have picked this instrument up and fooled around with it from time to time.  I even learned how to plunk along with some easier songs like Louie Louie.  It was never serious and for the last twenty or so years, it sat unused in the back of a closet.  A few days ago, while cleaning up, I noticed the road case sitting there.  A little bit of research reveals that it was made in 1978 at the Gibson Guitar factory in Kalamazoo, MI.  As it is in good condition with the original case, appears to be worth a bit of money.

I took some time and cleaned it up.  One of the pots was a little scratchy, so I cleaned it with a bit of Deoxit.  I took the bridge apart and cleaned it, removed the pickguard and pickups, and cleaned those thoroughly.

Gibson Grabber on stand
Gibson Grabber on stand

Being the curious type, I started fooling around with it again.  I then found a few Youtube videos on how to play bass.  I watched those along with some other learning tools.  I began to practice scales.  This turns out to be kind of fun.  I do remember how to read music, although I would need to brush up on this skill somewhat if I want to become an actual bass player.  I purchased a small Fender Amp, a scale chart, and a clip-on tuner and we are off to the races.  I wonder how the electric bass translates to a stand-up bass.  I could forgo the Rock ‘n Roll experience completely, but if I get good enough, I’d really like to play in a Jazz band.  A boy can dream…

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6 thoughts on “The Gibson Bass Guitar”

  1. Nice bit of collateral you picked up there. Your 100 1978 dollars would be worth $378 today, but the Gibson has fared better with prices around $1000. Hope you have fun practicing music, that’s where the real value is.

  2. That’s a very nice instrument. What deal that was! Learning to play it comparatively late in life has benefits, such as keeping your brain active and malleable, which the previous comment suggests.

    How does the electric bass translate to a stand-up bass, you ask?

    Well, the bass guitar is a combination of a stand-up bass and an electric guitar. The electric bass is tuned the same as a stand-up, but has the form and function of an electric guitar. It was developed in the early 1950s to solve several problems stand-up bass players encountered during the rise of popular music in the 20-th century. The non-resonant solid body allows it to be amplified without risk of feedback, thus enabling a single player to acoustically compete with other instrument sections in a band. Being smaller and less fragile than a stand-up, it’s easier to transport. And, because it’s a fretted instrument, 6-string guitarists can easily learn to play it. (The notes on the electric bass are the same as those on the four lowest string of the guitar, but one octave lower in pitch.)

    Leo Fender, founder of the famous Fender Guitar Company, is often credited with inventing the electric bass, but that’s not entirely correct. There were earlier versions of an electric bass offered by other companies, but none were commercially successful like Fender’s first “Precision Bass” introduced in 1951.


  3. Paul… welcome back! I was just reviewing an old posting of yours that I had archived and then decided to check the blog just in case and … there you are!

    I’ve played both the bass guitar and acoustic bass and can assure you that they are completely different animals. I have a fretless Fender bass that can articulate the notes somewhat like a bass violin, but there’s nothing like the real thing. Gibson electrics have their own special sound, though.

  4. Matt/Dave, thanks for the insightful comments. I am enjoying the process and it is fun to hear a scale or bass line played correctly (by me).

    Lee, thanks. That Gibson has a sweet note

    The funny thing is, I just discovered that I could have played bass for Van Halen

  5. Congrats on the bass Matt, it is a real deal for what you paid and very well made! For the Van Halen, can you sing like Michael Anthony?
    Just kidding, take you bass path where ever you want and enjoy it. Music exercises the other side of you brain and keeps you young.
    Came here reading about old TEXAR’s and saw this. My bass travels are similar to this website’s intro line…my Dad bought me a bass and amp in 1965 for my 10th birthday.

  6. Congrats on the bass PAUL.
    Example of what happens when you play gigs on Tuesday night and go to work on Wednesday(day job) short on sleep.

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