Some sounds from the vintage Gibson Victory Bass

This bass was mentioned in this article, and this is the one where you can actually hear it being played below.

Before we get to the video however, it’s probably true a whole bunch of you out there didn’t know the Gibson Victory Bass even existed, so here’s a quick history lesson on it.

The Victory Bass was launched as an ’81 model during the “Norlin era years” at Gibson (which lasted until 1986.) Three versions of the Victory Bass exist, that being Standard with passive electronics, Custom with two pickups and passive electronics, and Artist with two pickups and active electronics. The scale is 34″, body is maple, neck is three-ply maple with rosewood fingerboard. A fretless version was an option. Several finishes were available.

This design was a rather large departure from what Gibson was making at the time. Very daring, very modernized, very bold styling. And yes, it was specifically made to get Fender Precision Bass players interested in Gibson.

How well was the bass received?

You might look at this bass now and think, “Wow! Looks cool!” But that’s not what bass players thought about it back in the early-to-mid 80s. Many bassists scoffed at the Victory Bass. While the electronics, the tone and playability were great, it was ultimately the look of it that turned people off.

When you compare this bass to what was being sold in 1981, you can see that the Victory Bass stuck out a little too much.

Was the Victory Bass design ahead of its time? One could arguably say it was.

How much is a Victory Bass worth now?

At the moment, they’re surprisingly cheap. As of this writing, prices range from $600 on the low end and $1,600 on the high end.


Put through the right rig, the Victory Bass really sings. This is the Standard, and yes it does have P-bass like sound to it, albeit slightly more growly.

What do you think of the Victory Bass? Is it cool or should it be left in the past? Would it be worth it to restore? Post a comment or two with your thoughts below.

14 thoughts on “Some sounds from the vintage Gibson Victory Bass

  1. I’d love to see an affordable “trubute” version re-issued by Gibson, or Epiphone…… with a Babicz bridge like on the new 2017 Gibson EB Bass AND a different body wood to reduce weight.

  2. Great bass ,,,always liked them, and been tempted a few times,my friend had one ,and I used to say dont get rid if of this mighty bass..

  3. Very interesting…the body-sculpting and pick-guard look very Stingray 5-ish…
    Definitely a design way ahead of its time, or would fit right in with all that’s available in 2017.
    Great tone in that bass for sure.

  4. Nice P type basses, comfortable. They never caught on because they all were INCREDIBLY heavy. I heard the US Navy was using these to keep aircraft carriers securely in place…

  5. I owned a Gibson Victory Artist bass as a stablemate to my Dan Armstrong bass. It was a “B-stock” & despite all assurances of good functionality, it was the worst bass I EVER owned! Goes beyond personal prefs. The preamp amplified string noise to a level that it couldn’t be used in the studio (my PV Foundation, my $99 Ibanez, nor my Ampeg Big Stud had that problem). There was a weird warp in the neck that no shop I took the bass to could correct; intonation was always badly off, no matter who worked on it. It WAS a beautiful looking bass…

  6. I had the ’81 Victory Artist with the two pickups and active electronics, and it had the darker red metallic flake finish with the black pickguard. Sounded great, looked cool. I later had it repainted in black and got more compliments. It was heavy indeed. The trussrod was the real culprit of this bass’ downfall. Never-ending issues til it broke. That was the end.

  7. The bass that you demonstrated sounded pretty good, but as in all things not all manufactured products are perfect. I’ve had US made guitars and basses that were crap ( mostly Fender) and cheap made imports that played great for the money. Sometimes it’s a crap shoot. Most guitar and bass players never stop searching for that perfect instrument that can do it all. I guess that’s why we have so many of them and wish we didn’t get rid of some of them.

  8. I’ve got a metallic red ’81 Victory Standard. I bought it on ebay quite cheap, $300 or so. According to the seller, he was in a band and his bass got stolen. He bought this used Victory to get him by, and ended up using it for several years before finally replacing it. The body has many nicks and chips, and was oversprayed with clear. I wish they would have left it alone. It is by far the heaviest bass I’ve ever owned. It’s also one of the most comfortable basses I’ve ever played. I don’t play in a band, I just noodle around on the bass, mostly sitting on the couch, so I have no idea how horrible it would be to have this around my neck for four hours at a gig. I’m betting it would get sold quickly. In the meantime, if I want to plug something in that will crack the foundation walls and sound like Godzilla having a tooth pulled, this is it.

  9. That bass sounds great! Leave it alone and play it, there’s no need to restore the mojo out. I personally like the single pick up models. The pickguards looked a little off on the two pick up models.

  10. I have had two Victory Standards over the years, one gold and one red. Both sounded amazing and had no negative issues. The neck is one of the most appealing I have ever played and they will sound like a P as well, but have more tonal variety. They were both seriously heavy!

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