Gibson Ripper Bass


Gibson Rippers are loved worldwide! Here is an example of a great bass that found a home with Koewera from Indonesia.

I'm balinesse (Indonesia) and my name is Koewera, I am 43 years old and I am in love with this vintage bass ever since the first time I saw it and didn't expect to own it. The surface of the neck and body are faded but all the accessories are original and have never been replaced...I just love it. The ex-owner really took care of this bass and when I saw it on the internet I just knew I had to try to be the owner of this beautiful Ripper made around 1976-1980, the serial numbers are 8 digits.  Thank you George

Koewera's 1977 Ripper

This is a 1973-74 Ripper tortuous shell pickguard, these were only produced during the first few runs and are extremely hard to find in good condition. They came in various degrees of brightness with some being so hard to see that Ripper owner sometimes did not know that they had one of these rare beauties.

This guard is from one of the 5 sunburst Rippers known to have been made in late 1974-75
Original receipt for a 1975 Ripper from Sam Ash

JULY 2011


Check out these absolutely great stories and comments from Robert Liotti along with fantastic pictures.


Rob Liotti, lead vocalist for TNT - The Official AC/DC Tribute based in Charleston, SC. USA. I am attaching photos of my Gibson Ripper for you. This Ripper is unique as it is totally red with no burst. I have had two experienced luthiers look at it and they both said it did not appear to be repainted. I would speculate that it has been nonetheless, but if so, it was a very nice job.
I am also attaching pictures of my friend Mark Evans (former AC/DC bassist) and his Cherryburst Ripper. His is a 1975 and has been at his mom and dad's house in storage. He contacted me the other day and told me he was using it on the "Raise The Flag Tour" in Australia in honor of Bon Scott's 65th birthday celebration.
Two very nice Ripper examples.

Robert C. Liotti


Rob's Ripper


Marks Evans Cherryburst Ripper


Do not miss Mark Evans new book about his life and love of music and AC/DC

Get Lit: Dirty Deeds – My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC (out on Bazillion Points Books) official website.



December 2010


1975-76 Sunburst Ripper


Louie Avila's Ripper




I was looking around the net trying to find info about my beloved Ripper and found your site ... I've been lurking around the Gibson Forum's page and finally decided to send you a note.  Gibson's email replies state that the guitar is from 1975.

Tobacco Sunburst (see pics for the style, not thin around the edges but the more pronounced tobacco area)
Serial number stamped into headpiece (190806, Made in the USA)
Dark Rosewood fingerboard with Pearl dot inlays and "glued" to the body versus a bolt on.
The electronics have been modified similar to a P-bass (great sound improvement but not standard) but the pups are standard.



Here is Louie’s first run series Ripper that he is currently in the process of restoring. The owners of these basses are understandably fascinated with the limited number of original sunburst bass guitars that can still be found. Good luck Louie.





October 2010


1976 Ripper


Carson Gemmill's Ripper


Thanks for the information, it's surprising how little information I've been able to find on Rippers on the internet. Anyhow picked this one up at a local used music shop for, dig this, $350! I've been after one of these for the better part of ten years so when I caught it out of the corner of my eye I laid down the cash before even plugging it in.  Luckily it sounds and plays like a dream.  No breaks no major repairs other than the refinish. They had it marked as a 1976 but followed your advice and the original electronics are present with pots numbered 1377401, body is exactly 15 inches at its widest.  Looks like it was semi-professionally refinished, but due to the lacquer on the back of the headstock the "MADE IN USA" stamp is only visible if the light catches it right and no serial is discernable.  Not sure what the deal is with the headstock overlay being absent, as I see no cracks or repairs other than a very well repaired chipped corner.  Probably a good half pound lighter than any other Ripper I've played but the tone isn't lacking in the least!! The original case had some kind of Tex-Mex Desperado-Duck drawn all over it so I took certain creative liberties haha! 


July 2010

1973 Ripper

Pictures of my 1973 Ripper bass, This bass has been fully reconditioned to its nicely famished all around 73 vintage ripper , The  pick up's, reversed tuning machine heads, strap locks, bridge cover and the 4 selector knob are probably the only parts being original, The remaining Gibson logo / trust rod cover / brass nut / pick guard / and the 3 tone controls were also replaced, Now as you can see by the pictures, The Luthier did a very good job on repainting this heavier body black and revarnished the neck and cleaned all the other small parts that were original,

I traded for this bass an Ibanez S series S470 electric guitar that I never hardly used and never liked cause I'm a lover for old vintage basses and guitars so after looking at this Ripper bass I came to the conclusion that even though being refinished, The person I got it from had it lying around his basement for over 25 years and told me he finally decided to bring it back to life cause it was really all beat up,  I took a liking to this bass as is and probably will hold on to it until something else comes my way,

Hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of this 73 Gibson the ripper bass.



Enzo's Ripper





December 2009



Contributor Andrew Lloyd has an incredible display of his beautiful Rippers and some interesting theories on color originations of those rare sunburst Rippers. I think Andrew may be onto something!
I also like the idea of documenting the Burst Rippers because of the small Gibson shipping numbers provided in
Larry Meiners book Gibson Shipment Totals 1937-1979,
I would assume these numbers came from Gibson’s accounting and or book keeping departments and corporate numbers can sometimes be questionable. The exact manufacturing dates of these basses is very hard to nail down due to the limited time period in which they were produced as well as the overlap of stamped parts along with the fact that Gibson's corporation was in the process of moving manufacturing from Michigan to Tennessee during those early years. Aside from the obvious body contour change, woods and the questionable serial number system there simply is not much of a way to distinguish these dates.

So, players and owners chime in with your info and pictures and just maybe we could get a thread of evidence and start to establish real numbers on these burst Rippers.



Andrew Lloyd


Hi There!

I’ve attached pics of my Ripper collection. 

1973-74 Cherryburst, serial #102562, pot date is late 1973. This bass has a maple body and the MKI body contour indicating that it was made prior to the switch to alder in 1975.  The pots and Varitone are original, but almost everything else has been replaced using parts from another “73-74 Ripper.  The truss rod is broken and it has been defretted.  I hope to restore this bass to playing condition sometime over the next year or so.

My theory is that this finish was an option only during the first year of production and was not documented separately in the shipping totals.  The fact that one of the Ripper prototypes had a cherryburst finish seems to give this theory some weight.  These CB Rippers were probably listed as “natural” in the shipping totals for 1973-74. 

1975 natural, serial #968238, pot date is 1975, but not all of the pots are original.  The serial # and “MADE IN USA” are stamped on the back of the headstock and the string anchors on the back are individual holes and not the oval cavity/metal plate design.  The body is alder.  This leads me to believe it is a ‘75.  It has the MKII body and has been modified to fretless with the addition of an ebony fingerboard.  I use this bass more than any other in my collection.  It sounds fabulous!

1975 Tobacoburst, serial#186322, pot date is late 1974.  The MKI body is alder.  1 of 5 according to Gibson shipping totals.  Everything is original and in great working condition.  The only modification was that the upper strap button was moved to the heel of the neck.  This bass was formerly owned by a Nashville pro and was cared for properly.  The OHS case looks like it never left the house. 

It would be interesting to try to document all of these alder body MKI Tobaccoburst Rippers.  I have my doubts that there are only 5.  There is a thread about these basses at the Fly Guitars Gibson bass forum.  So far 5 owners including myself have chimed in w/ info.  This makes me think that there may be more than 5. 

Andrew Lloyd

lets get some real clues to these wonderful rare basses. I encourage everyone that can add some information to write in and send clues. Follow the Sunburst Ripper link.

Additional information and thanks for the video link Andy.

My Tobacoburst Ripper can be difficult to photograph accurately.  My camera brings out more red, but it looks positively brown in natural light. My bass is not as dark as these basses in question above.   I've attached a couple of pics that most accurately depict the actual color of my bass. I wonder if there were two different finishes or perhaps the difference is just due to slight variations in photography or pigmentation? Hope you don't mind, I'm just very curious about these Tobacoburst Ripper basses.



Andrew's Rippers




October 2009


Most of us have had experience of a regretful loss from our past; it may be as dramatic as the proverbial lost love, the one that got away, or as simple as that wonderful car that you wish you still had. For Don Bulford it was his Gibson Ripper. Here is Don’s wonderful tale of finding that regretted lost love.


I originally purchased this '75 Ripper used in 1976. I owned it for a couple of years and ending up selling because I needed money for my up coming marriage. In December of 2007 I came across another tobacco burst model on ebay. I noticed it was located in the same city where I sold mine almost 30 years ago. I went ahead and bid and won. After receiving it I noticed a couple of small issues with the bass and the case that I remembered and pretty much confirmed it's the same bass - it's a keeper now.

                                           1976 Gibson Ripper                                            

Don Bulford's 1975 Ripper another one of those few early original beauties, Nice!



September 2009


Hubert Blues

Hubert with his 1975 sunburst Ripper, NICE,

Hubert’s Ripper is an all original with pots dating to 1974. Along with the tobacco burst and smaller amber center burst (later burst were larger and extended into the horns) we agree that it is most likely only one of only 5 made that year. The condition is rated at a solid 9. Numbers indicate that only 126 sunburst fretted Ripper were made although some say a few were made in 1974 and not included in Gibson’s shipping totals, no evidence has been shown to prove that theory.




July 2009


I traded my blonde Ripper in at Guitar Center San Francisco (when it was on Van Ness)  for a 1969 Hofner Beatle bass, which I thought was a good trade.  I was only 15. Then I ran across another, black one, in the Nineties, and bought it, but gave/traded it to a lead guitar player friend of mine for his work on my CD. Man I loved both those basses. Need to find another, although my wife would kill me..  I went apeshit last year and bought tons of guitars. Rick Danko from The Band played a fretless one, didn't he?

 Best from the Bay Area,


Christopher Martin



Christopher Martin’s Ripper and his band “Orion



Christopher Martin’s Ripper again with his band “Rave”




                                                                                                                      May 2009


I've had my Ripper since 2006, I got from my old bass teacher when he moved. The serial code is 00156171, and by the listings I've seen, mine is from 1976.
For playability is nothing quite like it! My Ripper has incredible response to funkier styles whether it be by pick or finger (tapping and slapping are a bit difficult on the Ripper unless you've been doing it for a while, and set the action low for tapping, or high for slapping). It's midrange capabilities and overall tone selection allow for nearly endless combinations of tones for the funk player. It's also great for jazz because it can just as easily have a low, smooth sound to it, and the body responds well to low tones! It's a bass that not only defines its music-period with jazzy tones, but it can serve very well under the banner of today's more aggressive music. I have found that with the Treble Roll-Off, and judicious use of the chicken switch, the Ripper can pump out some seriousd rock and roll sounds! It handles all distortion types like a champ, sounds amazing with Wah Wah, and easily can switch to ballads of chorus. Any effect is welcome, though nothing sounds better than the natural tone of the Ripper! In the years I've had mine I've never played another bass that had such a unique voice--even from string to string! Every note will sound different on this bass and for that it makes the player want to explore the full spectrum of these subtle changes over the whole neck.
To be honest, I have only found three things I wish weren't true about these wonderful basses:
1. They are no longer made, and therefore parts aren't cheap if something goes wrong
2. Most of these basses are 30 years old (roughly), and therefore wear and tear begins to show more if you aren't too careful--though I have played two other Rippers since getting my own; one was a pile of junk, but the other was even a better condition than mine!
3. There is a bit of a neck-dive as everyone says all over the internet, but this is easy to adjust to, and I don't even notice it anymore (plus almost every bass worth having has a neck-dive, so it's not unusual)
In the way of Specs, Rippers are very unique in many ways.
Yes they have a glued-in neck like most any Gibson has.
Yes they have an angled head-stock as opposed to string trees or braces (which reduce overall sound).
But, they have unique electronics and structure!
The controls start with the chicken switch, and for the Ripper this switch has four options, which at the time was phenomenal because basses only had a max of three variations for pickup selection!
The knobs themselves are a master volume (the chicken switch allows this to almost act like two individual volume knobs due to the pickup selection), a midrange control knob (which allows the player to either cut the mid range, or boost it--very handy for jazz/blues/funk!), and the famous Treble Roll-Off knob which allows the player to boost the treble response and lower the bass response, and vice-versa.
In the way of action, the Ripper has an three-point adjustable bridge. This is a common Gibson Bass feature, but due to the small number of Gibson Basses on the market, it's decently unique. The 3-point bridge can essentially be adjusted in a 3-D environment. Unlike most bridges that allow the strings to be moved forward, backward, and side-to-side, the 3-point bridge can move up or down on all three bolts. This allows the bridge to be fully articulate for any set-up required. As well, the three bolts are large and sturdy, providing good body resonance and loads of extra bassy-tone to interact with the body. The bridge can either "float" or be right on the body of the bass which can give a large amount of string-to-body action (not to mention that the body is string-thru)!

There were two modifications made to my Ripper. The first is the pickguard. While doing a show, I left it on it's stand (plugged in), and a friend tripped on the cable, which yanked out of my bass, and consequently made a hole in the pickguard. So, I replaced it!
The second mod. happened before I owned the bass. The original owner said he wanted a flexible midrange that would give a different sound than the neck pickup could offer. So that being said, he took his 1971 Gibson EB-3, removed the bridge pickup, and then placed it in the bridge position of what is now my Ripper. This variation on the pickups allows my Ripper to blend the sounds of a Ripper and an EB-3, along with playing both separately. The nature of the EB-3 pickup still grants the chicken switch the same coil-tapping it had with the original pickup: "in phase--series", "bridge only", "in phase--parallel", "out of phase--series"  Rippers are the most amazing basses, and God, so we love them!


Christopher's Ripper (An Ebony Beauty)