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Vintage Ampeg Scroll Basses

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In My Collection:
Here are examples of the four basic instruments in the Ampeg Scroll Bass family. These four are fretted, but fretless versions of each were also made, for a total of eight models. On the left is the AEB-1, which was the first of the series, and is the most common. In the center is the ASB-1, commonly known as the Devil Bass, for obvious reasons. On the right is the AMB-1, the refined later version of the AEB-1. In front is the rare little SSB, the short scale bass.

Sorry, these instruments are not for sale!!

Vintage Ampeg Models:
AEB-1 & AUB-1
ASB-1 & AUSB-1 Devil Basses
AMB-1 & AMUB-1
SSB & SSUB Short Scale Basses

General Information On Vintage Ampegs:
Setup, Maintenance & Technical Issues
Restorations & Parts

From 1966 through 1969, Ampeg made a family of horizontal electric basses that were quite unusual and advanced for the time. Most of them had a scroll-type headstock, similar to a violin or upright bass, that was a derivative of headstock on the the Baby Bass that Ampeg had been manufacturing since the early '60's. For this reason, these instruments are often called the Scroll Basses.

There is a long, fascinating story behind the Ampeg company and how they got into the bass business, and I won't attempt to repeat it here. I highly recommend the book Ampeg: The Story Behind The Sound , written by my friends Gregg Hopkins and Bill Moore. It covers the entire history of the Ampeg company and its products in amazing detail. Over the last five years, while Gregg and Bill were writing the book, we've worked together and traded information back and forth. I've concentrated on the technical details of the horizontal Scroll Basses, and they've dug up names and dates through advertisements and catalogs.

We've never been able to find any actual records of the numbers of instruments built or sold. Whatever may have existed was probably thrown out one of the times when the company changed ownership. It literally took us years of phone calls, e-mails, and data logs to just to narrow down when these basses were made, and there are still many mysteries. I've built up a database of individual instruments just to understand the serial numbers, and to estimate the quantities of each model that were built.

There are eight model instruments in the Scroll Bass family. It's really four basic models, each of which was available in fretted and fretless versions. The model designations are AEB-1, AUB-1, ASB-1, AUSB-1, AMB-1, AMUB-1, SSB, and SSUB. There's no official record of what the letters stand for, but "AEB" probably means Ampeg Electric Bass. The "U" means Unfretted and the "M" probably means Magnetic pickup. The SSB is the Short Scale Bass, but I have no idea what ASB means.

The model numbers aren't marked anywhere on the instruments, so there's a lot of confusion. All of the models are often referred to as "AEB-1", "F-hole Bass", or "Scroll Bass". All were made right in Ampeg's shop in Linden, NJ by a small team of people, and much of the work was done by hand. There's a lot of variation in quality and features from one instrument to the next. Hardly any records were kept, and things were done in no particular order. There are also some strange hybrid instruments around, and unusual factory-installed custom features.