In our first installment of “Old School”, bassist Matt Shively shares the story of his 1967 Epiphone EB-232 bass.
My bass is a 1967 Epiphone Rivoli EB-232, made in Kalamazoo, MI.
How long have you owned it?
Going on 3 years now.
How did you come across it?
Well, I have a cousin named Larry Holcomb who played in the psychedelic scene in the 60s and 70s, and was in one line-up of the band H.P. Lovecraft. Larry moved in with my mother and aunt, and I became very good friends with him. He lost a lot of memory due to “experimenting” in the 60s and in a fit of dementia, he didn’t recognize anybody anymore and was put in a assisted living facility. He wasn’t able to keep his bass, because it could be technically used as a weapon, and no one else knew what else to do with it, so I adopted it, and had it set up.
Stock or customized?
It is completely stock. It looks like Larry cut a whole in the body with the intention of installing another humbucker pickup, but never finished.
Any special characteristics?
It has a 30″ scale neck that is almost too easy to play. Something that this bass has that no other bass I’ve owned has ever had is its extremely bass-y boomy sound… like the kind you hear in dub reggae music.
What’s your favorite story about the gear?
This bass has been around the block. My cousin told me a story about him playing a gig at the Fillmore (not sure which one), and he was on mescaline. He said it was “a very psychedelic experience” and that they played “The White Ship” the most beautifully they’d ever played it.
Any notable bassists (other than yourself, of course) play the same instrument?
Jimmy Page played one of these in the Yardbirds. In fact, this was a very popular bass used in British beat bands.
Any special history or story behind this instrument or the company who made it?
This is an American bass built in the Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan between the years 1961-68. It has seen a lot of groovy gigs in the 1960s and 1970s, but sadly, the stories that go with it are forgotten with old age. I am currently trying to contact people who were in bands with Larry to get a better background on his life.
Do you use it on gigs?
I’ve taken this bass on 2 tours thus far, and have recorded two albums and two EPs with it.
What else do you want to share about your gear?
It needs a little love. This bass has traveled without a case until I acquired it. There are dead spots on the neck and it is warped a little bit on the higher frets, so it is about to take a trip to Gruhn guitars here in Nashville TN, to get a set-up by my guitar guy, Dave Johnson.
Any other vintage gear?
I have an Electro-Harmonix Linear Booster box the plugs right into a pedal, but that’s all folks!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I play bass for Across Tundras (Neurot Recordings) on the albums “Old World Wanderer” and “Sage”. My favorite strings are flat-wounds (any brand as long as they aren’t cheap!) and I roll my tone knob almost all the way back. My favorite bass players are Geezer Butler, Glen Cornick, Geddy Lee, I gotta stop, I could name a hundred. I work on an organic farm here in Nashville, Ramble Hill Farms, should have a great harvest this year!
Check out more about Matt on his website.