The Gibson L9-S Ripper Bass was designed by Bill Lawrence, and manufactured from 1973 until 1983. Most had a maple body with laminated maple neck. The Ripper was initially available in three colours - natural, black, and tobacco sunburst.
The headstocks were painted black and featured the "Gibson" logo in gold script. The Ripper came equipped with two excellent pickups designed especially for the Ripper by Bill Lawrence which were called "Super Humbuckers", and a four way rotary pickup selector control.
Like all Gibson Ripper basses, this guitar was built in the famous Kalamazoo plant (MI, USA) in 1974 during the Norlin period of ownership. A total of 1288 Rippers were shipped in 1974, with the vast majority in natural finish as seen here.
Economic pressures in the 1970s meant the L-9S had to be affordable. A good quality bass, certainly, but no expensive inlays or finishes, plastic pickup covers, and controls and pickups mounted on the pickguard reducing production time and costs, compared to mounting in the wood.
Model: Gibson Ripper Bass
Pickups: Two Ripper humbuckers designed by Bill Lawrence
Scale: 34 1/2"
Body: Three piece maple body
Neck: Three piece set maple neck. Maple fingerboard. Adjustable truss rod. 20 frets. Width at nut 1 5/8"
Q-system electronics: 1 volume, 1 tone and 1 midrange control.
Gibson 3-point bridge.
1974 open gear tuning keys.
Gibson speed knobs.
Weight: 9.4 lbs
This is a really punchy bass - lots of Gibson low end, but with much more high frequency response than Gibson's earlier basses.
The Ripper's electronic circuitry, or Q-system consists of a four way tone selector switch, volume control, mid range control and tone control. It offers a range of quality bass tones which makes The Ripper quite a versatile instrument.
This one had a crack in the rear volute at the base of the headstock. It was not affecting the tone or playability of the bass, but it was there. We don’t believe it was a neck break, but rather a tension crack that had developed over time. So we sent it to Luke Parry of Northern Beaches Guitar Repair in Sydney. Luke has applied his experience and know-how to carry out a most professional repair job – to the extent that this Ripper Bass now probably has a stronger neck than it had on the day it left the factory.
Luke also cleaned up all the electronics and gave this bass a lovely overall setup, so it now plays better than it has in years. It’s a big bass with a big sound. But it is nicely balanced and plays with a clean low action that delivers a bold ballsy tone through the powerful Bill Lawrence humbuckers.Comes in its original green 70s Gibson hard case in good condition.