Gibson Triumph Bass… now with frets!


My Magic Bass…it’s alive… ALIVE!!!

Last month I wrote an article on my pawnbroker prize, the 1973 Gibson Triumph Bass that I picked up for $200. While this was certainly a bargain, the bass needed a fair bit of work before I could destroy some eardrums in anger. The headstock was cracked, the electrics needed some help and most importantly… it needed frets installed.

First up, Tim from Tym Guitars fixed the headstock crack by shoving heaps of glue into the crack and setting it. It’s solid as a rock now. He asked if I wanted him to fit a new headstock with the Gibson Custom binding and inlays, but I was so keen to play it I said we’ll do that down the track at a later time. Plus… I have a friend in Melbourne who is an awesome hot rod pinstriper who painted my Gibson SG, so I thought it would be cool to get the headstock done like that in the near future…

Tim wasn’t too stoked to have to refret a set neck bass, as unlike a standard bolt on bass you couldn’t take off the neck and put it in the standard type jig to cut the fret slots. Tim had to meticulously measure every fret spacing and cut it by hand. Apparently whoever had de-fretted it had made some slots bigger than others when ripping the frets out, and then filled them with wood filler. Tim had to make sure the slots he was cutting in were in the exact right position, otherwise the intonation on this bass would of been out. 3 days later… and the Magic Bass was sporting some beautiful jumbo bass frets.


Next up, Tim added a little surprise to the electrics. The pickups in these basses, while they sound awesome are notoriously low powered… so Tim added an active bass booster circuit that he designed.The bass already had an extra mini switch fitted, so Tim made that the circuits on/off.


When I plugged it in at his shop, the sound blew my head off. This thing has so much bottom end it’s ridiculous, but thanks to the low impedance pickups, it has a lot of clarity as well. It’s like hitting a note on a grand piano. Sustain for days. It’s like a P-Bass on steroids.


I’ve played this bass at a few shows now and I’m really happy with it. Due to the body binding, I can’t go as crazy with my strumming as I normally do on my Fender-type basses, so this forces me to play a lot cleaner and hit my notes more accurately. It also is a lot better on my neck than some of my other basses. The balance is perfect due to the big mahogany body and small neck, but it’s really comfortable to play. The neck profile is almost like a cross between a Jazz Bass & Mustang Bass… thin width and easy to play.


To say I’m happy with this bass is a massive understatement. From what research I’ve found, Gibson only made 4 black Gibson Triumph’s so this is a very rare bird. But it’s going to get played… a lot.

I’m so happy with it’s sound that I recently picked up a 1970’s Ibanez Les Paul bass as a backup. Tim is setting it up and fitting the same bass boost circuit right now.