|Body||Maple (1973–74, 1976–1983, 2009) or Alder (1975)|
|Fretboard||Ebony or Maple|
|Natural, ebony, sunburst, cherryburst|
The Ripper was designed by Bill Lawrence, and manufactured from 1973 until 1983, the peak year being 1976. Most had a maple body with laminated maple neck; however a significant number manufactured in 1975 had lighter alder bodies while retaining the maple neck. Also in 1975, an edgier and slimmer body, with more beveling and contours around the horns of the bass, was introduced. The new look was geared towards heavier music that was gaining popularity under the ending decade. The later models of 1976 and on featured a different routing in the body for the wires, and the pickups were screwed in by three posts as opposed to the old two-post variation.
The Ripper was initially available in three colors: natural, black, and tobacco sunburst. Natural Rippers received a maple fingerboard, while black or sunburst basses received an ebony fingerboard. A handful of 1974 basses were finished in cherry sunburst, which was never listed as a standard finish option. These basses are extremely rare.
The headstocks were painted black and featured the "Gibson" logo in gold script. Most models feature a black pickguard, though closer inspection reveals that some pickguards only appear black and are actually a very dark tortoiseshell pattern. A few early basses were equipped with a bright red tortoiseshell pickguard.
There was also a fretless version of the Ripper – identical in all respects (fretboard aside).
The original Gibson model is now rare and has seen significant inflation in value recently; however a cheaper Epiphone model was still in production for a few years, it was featured with two single coil pickups rather than Gibson's Super Humbuckers.
But Gibson's new "Limited Run Series" has brought the Ripper back beginning in 2009. The new Ripper's features are not exact to the original. The older Rippers did not have a brass nut, they were all string-thru models, and the Super Humbuckers were wired differently. Now, the new Rippers feature two volume knobs, and one master tone (a feature seen on newer Gibson and Epiphone basses such as the Viola, EB-0/3, Thunderbird, and Les Paul). Original Rippers had one master volume, a mid-range notch filter (captor/inductor), and a treble roll-off knob. The chicken switch on the originals had the options of:
- 1 "in phase—series"
- 2 "bridge only—single"
- 3 "in phase—parallel"
- 4 "out of phase—series".
The new Ripper II has a six position switch. Gibson lists it as follows:
"In position one you get the bridge pickup only. Position two gives you the second coil of the neck pickup and the first coil of the bridge pickup. Position three delivers the first coil of the bridge pickup. Position four dials in the second coil of the neck pickup. Position five gives you the first coil of the neck pickup and the second coil of the bridge pickup. And the sixth position gives you only the neck pickup."
The Ripper is "cousin" to the Gibson Grabber and Gibson G3 models also manufactured by Gibson around the same time. The three are vintage in today's world, though the "Grabber II" and "Ripper II" are being released for Gibson's "Limited Run Series". The Grabber II came back in January 2009 for the opening of the series, along with the "Holy Explorer".
- Rick Danko – The Band
- Wylie Gelber – Dawes
- Krist Novoselic – Nirvana
- Gene Simmons – Kiss
- Gerald Casale – Devo
- Peter Cetera – Chicago
- Louis Johnson – Brothers Johnson
- Suzi Quatro
- Jack Blades – Night Ranger
- Michael Shuman – Queens of the Stone Age
- Gordon Moakes – Young Legionnaire
- Greg Lake – Emerson Lake and Palmer
- Matt Sharp – Weezer
- Mikey Welsh – Weezer
- Mark Evans – AC/DC
- Chris Feinstein – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
- Lou Barlow - Dinosaur Jr.
- Ted Mulry - Ted Mulry Gang
- Kyle Johnson - Misery Signals
- Marc Miller - Yezda Urfa
- Nate Mendel - Foo Fighters
- Gibson Limited Series – Gibson's Limited Series Run page
- Several such basses are pictured here