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Vintage Ampeg Scroll Basses:
SSB & SSUB, The Short Scale Basses

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In My Collection:
On the left is SSB #0223, which I bought from George Gruhn in 1996. It's all original and in nearly mint condition.
On the right is SSUB #0197, which I was very lucky to buy in a private sale in 1997. It's all original, but is missing the bridge cover and the case. Yes, those are black tapewound strings on it. The previous owner found it hanging on the wall of a rummage shop and paid $40 for it!!
These little basses have a warm, punchy tone and are a lot of fun to play.

Sorry, these instruments are not for sale!!

In the fall of 1967, Ampeg introduced a small short scale bass in an attempt to capture some of the market of students and beginners that was being dominated by inexpensive imports. The SSB (fretted) and SSUB (fretless) have a 30 1/2" scale length and a flat slab-style headstock, and are not much larger than an electric guitar. They have a solid maple body and a four-coil magnetic pickup similar to what would appear on the AMB-1 in '68.

Most SSB's and SSUB's have a smooth, simple body with a cool sweeping wave-shaped pickguard. However, one existing SSUB, which appears to be a prototype, has F-hole shaped recesses routed into the front face of the body, following the general style of the AEB-1. A crudely done instruction sheet indicates that the body style with the F-holes was intended to be standard for all the fretless SSUB's, but that was apparently dropped, and in the production run, both models had the smooth sweeping body.

The SSB and SSUB models were cancelled almost as soon as they were introduced. Although they were listed at about half the price of an AEB-1, they were still far more expensive than the competing imports. It seems that, after a few prototypes were made, there was a short production run in about November '67. It's unclear how many instruments were made, but it couldn't have been many. These two models are very rare today. It's too bad, because they are fun little basses to play, with a good, punchy tone. The only major musician that I know of who played one is Fred Smith of the band Television.

The serial numbers of the SSB and SSUB models are a real mystery. I have good information on only eight instruments so far, and have heard of only a few others. six of those eight have serial numbers ranging from #0195 to #0223, and these instruments are very similar in appearance and details, and are probably part of whatever production run there was. The other two instruments seem to be prototypes. The SSUB with the F-holes in the pickguard is marked #135 and the other is an SSB with some detail differences from the others, and it has no serial number at all. As scarce as the SSB and SSUB are today, I seriously doubt that 225 or more of them were built. So, I don't know why the numbers are as high as they are, but until I hear of more instruments, I estimate that only about 40 were built; 20 SSB's and 20 SSUB's.

In 2000 I developed a new generation version of the SSB. As with the AEB-2, I kept the general concept and styling, but re-engineered it completely to make it a better instrument. I build the new SSB's in batches when orders come in for them. See the full story on them on the SSB Short Scale Bass page.