Feedback on Warwick Thumbs
How are Warwick Thumbs? I have no way to try one, but I am thinking of buying one since I have loved every Warwick I have tried. I am looking for a sort of Justin Chancellor/Mike Starr/Geddy Lee tone, and I have a tech 21 bass driver. Would the thumb do well for this tone?
I had one for many years, a German made thumb bolt on 5 string. Great neck and fingerboard, but very heavy and really bad neck dive. The tone was very nice but sometimes it had trouble cutting through with louder bands. I wouldn't buy any bass without playing one first. It's all personal preference. It was a beautiful instrument and very well made, never had one problem with it the 13 years I owned it.
I own a German Thumb BO (Bolt-On) 6. It is a fantastic instrument with an immediately identifiable growl & tone.
Few details to advise, if you're not already aware. They are heavy. Mine is about 11 Lbs. Also, many people experience neck dive. Both of which can be countered.
Pick up a nice wide strap, which will distribute its weight more evenly across your shoulder.
The back of my strap is sort of a rough leather/swede so it offers some grip to my shirt.
I've always worn my basses high, which counters neckdive. I can understand neckdive taking place for those who let the bass hang lower.
The ergonomics, or lack thereof, are a deal-killer IMO. OTOH, the Warwick Streamer gear was very comfortable and sounded great. My favorites were a Streamer Pro M 4 and Streamer LX 4.
I LOVED my BO-4; the 5 or 6 BO-5's I owned at different times never came close. My issues were neck dive(I sling it average-height, have narrow shoulders and can't do the wide, grippy strap thing), utterly different sound(due, I believe, to PU placement)& narrow spacing(I had a wide-neck 5 for awhile- it was wide but also VERY thick front-to-back, the opposite of my preference).
My tastes and gigs call for a P these days, but I'll always have a soft spot for wenge-necked BO-4's
I owned a BO5 for quite some time...it was a nice bass, I just didn't like the tight string spacing, but it was a well made bass! I found and owned a Broad neck 5 string and that things was way too heavy! I'm not usually overly picky about weight, but this thing was every bit of 13 pounds! Every time I played it for a gig I had to go to the chiropractor the next day...But once again, it was a well made bass.
I had a thumb NT 5 for a couple years around 2003. It was beautiful, looked great on a wall. Sounded ok.
I will say it was horribly heavy for its size and neck dove like it was trying to get away from me. I had a super wide Warwick Leather strap that had lambs wool for padding. Was like a 60 dollar strap. Made little difference. That was with out a doubt the most uncomfortable bass to play I have ever owned. It sure was pretty though.
I agree with the above posts. Look into the streamer family. I owned a Streamer Stage II for years before having to sell it due to needing to pay for college. That's the bass I wish I never sold more than any. One of the best basses I have owned. I loved that thing. They are out of my price reach now unfortunately.
jack bruce thumb for sale
I have a limits edition 2002 jack Bruce edition fretted thumb. This is the real deal. They made 80total. 40 fretted and 40 treeless. Half for Europe and half to the us. Ibis on Ebay. If you are looking for a thumb this is the one to have.
These comments are all consistent with my experience. I had a Thumb four and a five for years. Neck dive, heavy, tight spacing on five, tone not quite where I wanted it (are we ever totally satisfied?). But, incredibly well made and gorgeous instruments! I prefer a Streamer or a Spector over the Thumbs. Have both now! :D
Geddy Lee played a jazz bass, that might have the tone you like. If you want a 5-string i have tried the American Deluxe 5 and really like it. I have a 2012 American Standard 4 string and love it too, it actually replaced my thumb, the weight and neck dive finally got to me. The Thumb would make a great studio bass, playing it sitting down its very comfy, but playing a three hour gig standing, it can really get to you. Playing up high fusion style and the widest comfiest strap I could didn't help me enough. I saw a bar once that extended the strap attachment point on the upper horn a few inches, that could solve the neck dive problem, but unless you are a brute there is not much you can do for the weight. Stuart Zender and Norwood Fisher, two great players, played thumbs, if you can put up with their shortcomings you can get a great sound out of them. Also consider its a longer scale bass, if your are used to playing shorter scale stuff Its going to feel a lot different. You may like it, you may not. All I can recommend is play the bass before you buy it, you test drive a car before you buy it, the same goes for any instrument. Find a local store that has one and play it, if you like it shop around online and look for a good deal that you are confident is in nice shape. If you live in a rural area and mail is the only feasible way to play one, try to buy from vendor that has at least an exchange policy. I initially bought a Ibanez SR but after a few days decided it wasnt for me so I was able to exchange it at Guitar Center for my Jazz Bass without a problem.
if you want a Thumb, buy a neck through. The instrument is too small, impossible to balance without a heavy peace of wood through the body...
I have owned 2 in the past. I never had a problem cutting through the mix. Thick mids. Seriously growly. The cons are that they are heavy as was mentioned before. The Ovangkol used on the bodies of the BO is soft and it dents and scratches very easily. Also the small size of the upper horn does 2 things: makes it neck heavy and it sits differently on the strap. Meaning the headstock and the first few frets are further away than your typical bass and you have to reach a little further.
I loved the look and especially the flawless construction but I sold them and bought a Corvette which I like a lot better. YMMV
I own a Neck Thru Thumb4. Its a heavy bass considering how small the body is but I don't have much neck dive as its a 4 string and fairly well balanced. The neck feels a mile long due to the small body (and possibly the 26 frets).
But the tone is so growly and distinct. The playability is off the chart. The bell tone harmonics are insane, the bass feels like it plays itself. The brass frets are gorgeous and the bass sounds just as good in passive mode as it does in active. I look funny wearing it as I am a bigger guy but its an addictive instrument.
I had a Bolt On 5 string Thumb and sold it real quick to go back to my Fender Jazz. It does have its own unique growl that I think would sound great in rock, metal, prog if you are doing that. But I did not find it that versatile as there was only few sounds I could get. I can dial up almost any tone I want with my Fender American Jazz and Ampeg Classic SVT.
The main reason I sold it was the neck dive was horrible and it was heavy. The sound it did produce I liked because not many other basses sounded like it. But for the neck dive it was not worth it. I would go with a Streamer Stage 2 if I were you.
The comments regarding the weight and neck dive of Thumbs in general are absolutely correct.
However, this does not necessarily apply to some of the Special Edition Thumbs that have been produced by Warwick over the years.
For example, I have a 2006 BO Special Edition 'Dirty Blonde' which has NO neck dive and weighs only 8 lb...... But then it has an ash/poplar body with maple neck and PJ pickup configuration. Not exactly your typical Thumb but a fantastic player nonetheless. Still has the Warwick mids-growl but with more punch.
This, and other SE Thumbs come up for sale from time to time and would be worth looking into if balance and weight are an issue you don't mind buying second hand. Although these basses were pricey new, good used examples can be picked up for about $1 200.00 to $1 500.00 - maybe less.
also not the most comfortable bass and neck.
i have a BO4 and a wide strap took care the neck dive issue for me, great playingand sounding basss
i have owned three of them 2 BO and 1 NT
i sold my BO thumbs after hearing the NT-no contest. it was radical.
I have a late 90's Thumb BO5.
Love the look, feel, playability and sound of this bass. Not bothered by the slightly heavy neck, its not a diver but it does want to settle in between the 2:00 and 3:00 position. The weight is not extreme for a 5 string. The reach to first position does seem a little longer than many of my other basses but again not a real problem. The sound is very unique and cuts thru the mix with authority.
I know its not always possible to try before you buy but if you can at least buy used you won't be out much or any money if you have to resell it. Or buy from Guitar Center where the return policy is gracious to say the least.
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