1. Welcome to TalkBass 2014! If you're new here, we just went through a major site upgrade. Please post all concerns and bugs to the Forum Usage Issues forum. We will be monitoring that forum. Thank you for all of your feedback.

    The TB Android app is working, you may need to uninstall/reinstall. The iPhone app is now updated and should work after you upgrade. TalkBass is responsive to any screen size, so we recommend using your mobile browser for full functionality.

    Please read the TalkBass 2014 FAQ for lots of great info on the new software.

How to get my '76 Thunderbird to cut through?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BobOnBass, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. BobOnBass

    BobOnBass

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Use of this field for any other purpose is prohibited
    Hi all,

    So I have a '76 Gibson Thunderbird that I love for the looks, the feel and for playing by myself (hmmm, that sounds a bit weird somehow). However, I have not been able to set it up in a way I can get it to cut through in the live band mix. That is when playing loud rock, grainy low tuned stuff so not the easiest of settings maybe. The difference with my P-basses is very big. I must say that eventually, still being not totally satisfied even with the P-basses, I have made something with a Q-tuner pup that cuts through even better than any of my P-basses. Just to say that it really is a heavy, full bandmix.

    I also use a Gibson Ripper btw that cuts through like a dream.

    Now, I am curious if any 70's T-bird users here, especially when playing loud stuff, use their T-bird differently than other basses. I mean, adding boosters or eq, a hipshot bridge or changing pickups maybe. Or maybe you experience the Thunderbird as being very able to show some muscle.

    Let me know! Thanks, Bob.
  2. standupright

    standupright

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Brownchicken Browncow
    what kind of rig are you playing through?

    what are your guitarist(s) rigs?
  3. darkstorm

    darkstorm

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    A bass eq pedal or onboard 2-3 band eq preamp would make lot of diff. I had one of those bicentenial issue Gibson TB's and while they didnt have onboard eq's available as such back then. There where little preamps by orange and such that plugged right into output jack, then instrument cord plugged into the little preamp box. Which is what I used.

    Standupright has valid point too. Sometimes bass players try to compete with too little an amount of air movement. A single 15 or even 12 inch speaker no matter the wattage of amp wont do if youve got two guitar players plus drummer and synths with guitar players each haveing half stack. Each of those equals 2x15 bass rig wise. So in that case bass player should have 2x15 or more.
  4. RickC

    RickC Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    When I owned a '76 bird, I had similar issues with it. And I wasn't using it for anything as heavy as you describe. The pickups just seemed to be lacking in that bass; a much different situation from my 60's birds, which cut through like crazy.

    I recently tried a Lull T-bird with his new pickups and they sound killer.

    /rick
  5. KramerBassFan

    KramerBassFan

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    Turn up your mids. Problem solved.
  6. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2003
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's exactly how I felt about mine. It always sounded gritty and never quite got out there in the mix and my band is not heavy sounding at all. Turning up the mids only did just that - made it mid heavy and lacking bass. It was a practically mint specimen and I loved everything about it except that. Too bad it had to go.

    I've also heard exactly the same thing about both the 60's Birds and the new Lull stuff.
  7. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Likes Received:
    8
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    I play 3 '76s in regular rotation at shows and rehearsals I've found they work great and will sit in the mix just fine *if* you eq them correctly. An amp with a useful tone control section is definately required, I prefer a GK 1001RBII along with a Line6 bass pod live to fine tune it - really it's just as KramerbassFan says bump your mids up and leave the bass at unity or slightly less. String choice is helpful here too, Dr's are goodbright and clankey, Ken Smith are very good to with a bit less top zing. And last if you're not using one I'd strongly recommend a Dulop tortex .73 pick.

    Here's a good live recording of one of mine -

  8. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a 70's pickup in my Fenderbird and I found the same issue. The pickups are nice on their own but tend to "blend" in the mix. Also they seem to be low output.

    Some have said it depends on how you have you pickups / bass set up as well.

    I know some guys you get a great sound that cuts through with 70's birds (Mark).

    Thats why I prefer the maple topped LP's same warm tone but with bite & high end that cut through the mix.

    Nothing wrong with a bass that blends into the mix. A matter of taste.
  9. christw

    christw Always searching for the right Ric... Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: J Worrell Bass
    To do the P Bass thing, boost (heavily if necessary) around 1000 hz. Mid knobs on amps usually tend to be in the 400-800 hz range, but one centered on 1000 would work better. I believe Nordstrand's 3B preamp has a stock mid frequency fo 1 khz (1000 hz) if you'd be into adding a pre. It cuts through massively, especially if you use the neck pickup alone for exaggerated p-bassiness.
  10. BobOnBass

    BobOnBass

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Use of this field for any other purpose is prohibited
    Wow, thanks all, lots of in depth responses. Going to take me some time to read all.

    Btw, my rig when I last tried the bird was a Mesa 400+ with Mesa RR 2x15. My guitarist typically will use either an old Orange Matamp, old Hiwatt or old Laney with Marshall 4x12, 4 Greenbacks and some Tubescreamer type of OD.

    Since I have changed the 400+ to an old Hiwatt 200 that I haven't gigged yet and probably won't soon because I'm in between bands so to speak. :)

    Going to read all replies now...

    B
  11. BobOnBass

    BobOnBass

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Use of this field for any other purpose is prohibited
    Ok, so bottom line is a) these 70's Thunderbirds do generally need something extra (at least when playing rock type stuff) and b) eq-ing/boosting the mids will normally do the trick.

    So TBird1958, you have a Lull bird aswell right? Is the difference regarding the pups a huge one?
  12. BobOnBass

    BobOnBass

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Use of this field for any other purpose is prohibited
    Ouch... 289,- USD plus shipping for just one Lull pickup.... That's a bit too much for me.

    I think I can buy me a real nice EQ pedal for half that money. I won't have to mess with the EQ on the amp then and I can switch between basses quickly.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback!
  13. carlos840

    carlos840

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Had the same problem with mine untill i realised i was trying to EQ it like a jazz bass...
    Now what i do is boost the mids a lot more than i usually do and it cuts through just fine, but not as much as a J or P in my opinion...
  14. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    It really is not what it is about with all mahogany. The warm tone wants to be a bit "blurry" which is totally different than a P or J. Different animal.
  15. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    The best of both worlds-EnwistleEnwistle was on to something

    [​IMG]

    The warmth & growl of a Tbird, plus the treble punch of a P bass, due the maple bolt on neck. There is a reason many Boutique builds use mahogany cores with maple facings & necks.
  16. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I am going to catch some heat here but I feel I am qualified to comment. I have been playing Thunderbirds almost exclusively since '76, mostly 60's non reverse. I had a '76 when they first came out, nice bass HORRIBLE pickups, thin, weedy sounding and microphonic the bass squelled like a stuck pig. 70's pickups have absolutley nothing in common with 60's pickups. 60's are large single coil, '76's are side wound humbuckers weak output about 6-7 K. there are two ways to solve your problem, Send you pickups to Seymour Duncan and have them stuffed with 60's repro pickups ($190 they do excellent work) or buy a set of Lull pickups. Honestly '76 pickups are some of the worst sounding pickups of all time I have numerous '76s over the years only one was any good at all and that was a '79, the only one that didn't sound like crap.
  17. stiles72

    stiles72

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thunderbirds + 2x15's = :hyper: :D :bassist: :)
  18. BobOnBass

    BobOnBass

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Use of this field for any other purpose is prohibited
    My Frankenbass is mahogany with maple and I couldn't be happier Very sweet and 'round' tone but with loads of definition.

    Very very nice bass you have there btw!!
  19. BobOnBass

    BobOnBass

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Use of this field for any other purpose is prohibited
    Say God :D, is that 190 usd for two pups? Is the difference big compared to the Lull's?

    Having thought about it, I would really like to swap pups rather than pump up the signal later. Just seems better some how. I would like to keep the stock pups original though so I can swap them back at some point. It seems you're implying Seymour Duncan would modify the stock pups rather than sell complete ones. True?

    B
  20. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    The pickups are $190 each and they put them in your '76 covers. There was a guy on ebay greatdealz1967 who had NOS '76 covers for $29 each ! I think he is out though. $380 isn't bad to get the pickups done but I will warn you purists will say you are devaluing a vintage instrument and I to a extent agree with that but on the other hand you are making it usable. The best scenario would be to buy the Lulls and save you '76 pickups, or find a set of '76 covers to send to Seymour Duncan

Share This Page