This listing is for a vintage Epiphone EB232 Rivoli Hollow Body Electric Bass. The serial number 841637 is stamped on the blue ‘Union Made’ label inside. We are not sure exactly what year this bass was made. It has been somewhat modified from the original. The bridge looks like it was changed at one time, as there is a faded outline in the finish with a slightly different shape. There are also two screw holes that can be seen underneath the current bridge. The lower pickup was most likely added, as we didn’t see any other Rivolis online with two pickups and only two knobs. The pick guard and arm rest are missing. The headstock was broken and repaired at one time. The repair is not pretty, but seems to be very functional. We tested it briefly with an amp, and it plays well and sounds nice. The body is in good overall condition with plenty of dings and scratches. There are no cracks or other structural issues that we can see. The bass comes a hardshell case with leather guitar strap. The case has heavy wear. Please see the detailed photos below and contact us with any questions before bidding. We have a low opening bid and no reserve price so don't miss your chance to win!
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The electric bass was another innovation that came into its own in the ’50s. Gibson introduced its violin-shaped solidbody Electric Bass in 1953, followed by the semi-hollow 335-style EB-2 in ’58, and the solidbody EB-0 in ’59 (replacing the original-design Electric Bass).
When it was introduced in ’59, Epiphone’s electric bass, the Rivoli, was a fraternal twin of Gibson’s EB-2; each had a thinline maple body that measured 16" wide, 19" long, and 13/4" deep. Both had double rounded cutaways, unbound f-holes, and of course, the center block. Its neck was mahogany and its rosewood fretboard had 20 frets with dot markers on a 301/2" scale. Like its Gibson counterpart, the headstock had rear-projecting, banjo-style tuners, as well as a plain one-piece bridge/tailpiece that was not intonatable but had an angled portion for better tuning stability. The first-version Rivoli also had a massive single-coil pickup mounted near the neck, and simple Volume and Tone controls. It, too, began its existence in natural and sunburst finishes.
As the EB-2 evolved in ’59 and ’60, so did the Rivoli, each acquiring standard right-angle tuners, a humbucking pickup, a pushbutton baritone switch, and a flip-up string mute. The differences between the two were primarily cosmetic – different headstock silhouettes with different pearloid inlays.
Curiously, despite their evolution, both were discontinued in the early ’60s, only to be reinstated in ’64, when semi-hollow basses became favored by “British Invasion” bands; the Rivoli actually became the higher-profile instrument as English players gravitated to its sound, light weight, and playability. Sunburst-finished Rivolis were utilized by the Animals (Chas Chandler), the Yardbirds (Paul Samwell-Smith), Gerry & the Pacemakers (Les Chadwick), the Small Faces (Ronnie Lane), and many others. Chandler reportedly used his Rivoli to record the intros to “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and “It’s My Life.” And from 1964 to ’66, John Entwistle used a sunburst Rivoli as well as a natural-finish EB-2 as part of his arsenal in the High Numbers, which became The Who when the band changed its name in ’64.
Jimmy Page played a sunburst Rivoli during his tenure with the Yardbirds, perhaps the same one played by Samwell-Smith before he left the band – and Yardbirds rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja may have played it when he switched to bass after Page became the band’s sole guitarist during its final incarnation. Later in the decade, Free’s Andy Fraser utilized a natural-finish Rivoli.
The Rivoli was discontinued in ’69, but made a brief reappearance with two pickups in 1970.
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