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In several web souces, the Epiphone Viola Bass is said to have been the
earlier violin bass, that means: prior to the Hofner 500/1. Well, this
is total rubbish since the Viola came in the ninetees as a cheap
response to the vintage hype that was caused by Sir Paul McCartney's
decision to reactivate his Hofner after years of using the Rick. The Viola is said to be produced by Samick!
People occasionally confuse the facts, because Epiphone's mother company Gibson had a violin shaped bass in the early fifties. Read for further information the introduction to the history of the violin bass. Epiphone had one single bass model in the early sixties (the Newport), even in the mid 70's they had only three basses (catalog picture from 1974) and none of them was the Viola.