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Paul S

N(O)BD - 1972 Antoria EB-3

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With much thanks to Jon @Bassassin for all his advice, knowledge and patience. 

I've had the hots for one of the old, better quality Japanese 'SG' style basses for a while and this one popped up for sale on Reverb at a reasonable price.  A Fujigen made, Antoria branded, short scale EB-3 copy finished in what I guess you'd describe as a dark walnut lacquer.  It arrived a couple of weeks ago now. 

A serial number on the back of the front pickup dates that, at least, to 4th August 1972 and, apart from a few dings in the paint, it seems in remarkably good nick for a bass that is approaching it's half century.  Lots of life in the frets.  I believe everything is original and, more importantly, still works.  It arrived absolutely spotlessly clean, the neck dead straight and the action to my liking so all I needed to do was tune it up and lower the bridge pickup a tad to balance the output.  I took off the middle chrome hand rest that I found rather in the way and there was a (original?) foam mute under the strings at the bridge that I also removed.  The bridge adjustment is crude but, then again, so is my playing :)  Edit - re-strung it with my favoured TI Flats.  Weighs in at 3.4kg and sits nicely on the strap, no neck dive.  Slim, shallow neck with a nut width of maybe 39mm.

Have to say I am really impressed.  Build quality is everything you would hope from an early Fujigen.  It is the tone I was unprepared for.  The neck pickup in particular is warm with HUGE character, a million miles from the Epiphone EB-0 I had years ago, even with the industry standard Dimarzio upgrade.  Wander up to the 7th-12th fret area and there is a hollow, almost choral sound - hard to describe but I like it lots.  And that is just at home.  I suspect that pushed it will break up nicely and growl - really looking forward to trying it in the context of my blues trio.

I have one of the Gibson Les Paul Jnr DC basses and I love it to bits.  But, big question, do I prefer this?  Possibly.  I like that this is old.  I like the whole quality Japanese copy thing.  I particularly like that it cost me well under £300. :) 

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Edited by Paul S
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OMG that's absolutely awesome. 

1969 thro 1974 Antoria were the very best main brand copies.

While at Uni in Cardiff I worked part time in a music store and tried loads of Antoria guitars & basses they were head and shoulders over everything else at that time and to see one in such good condition today is a real joy. You are a very, very lucky guy. Congrats on your find.

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That is very nice - always hankered after an EB3 type bass and, like you, I find the 70's good copy element appealing.

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Lovely little thing, isn't it? I had an identical one about 9 years ago - Antoria 2354B, made by Fujigen, exactly the same bass as the Ibanez & Greco versions.

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Mine was a car boot classic, needed a proper clean & setup, & a very hard-to-find replacement neck pickup, as the original was dud & rewinding's not part of my skill set! Couldn't find a handrest though, there must be thousands of dusty ones at the backs of drawers... Very, very good little bass and one I thought twice or three times about moving on.

Happy to be able to give @Paul S a few pointers and delighted it turned out as good as it looks!

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A bit of an update.  I had the opportunity to play this with my blues band and, tbh, found the tone was lost in the context of the band.  it sounded fantastic in isolation but just kind of sat underneath everything without any presence.  I decided to make a few changes to make it more useable, but also make sure the changes were reversible so it could be put back to stock one day if necessary.

I chose the Artec pickups - they do versions of both neck and bridge.  The bridge is a drop in but the neck is a different size, so I handed to work over to the guy who does all my bits and bobs, Leighton Jennings.  Top chap.  This then necessitated a new pickguard which he did, too, that encompassed the hole from the (for me) redundant palm rest. 

I thought I'd upgrade the bridge to a Hipshot Supertone.  I've had the 3 point before, this is the 2 point.  After some shenanigans over what screws should/shouldn't be included I eventually got around to trying to fit it, only to find that the two mounting screws weren't fixed to bushes in the body but via a small threaded hole in the bass plate of the original bridge.  So Leighton fitted some bushes in.

Just picked it up today.  I have to say Leighton made a cracking job of the work.  Those Artecs sound just exactly like an EB-3 should and the bridge, of course, is a proper job.  So the whole thing is now a lovely useable gigable bass in the context of my blues band with a lovely vintage vibe.  But everything is reversible, if needs be.

 

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Artec pickups are great sounding and a flat out bargain. I used some of their P90s a while back and they are stunning and only £30ish for the pair. I'll definitely be using them again.

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I was disappointed with the Artec mudbucker I had. Even though it measured 30kΩ and had 4 magnets it in no way had the same output power and depth of my original Gibson mudbucker. It was more akin to the Epiphone.

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