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Advice on a Tacoma Thunderchief bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mattzink, Aug 20, 2002.


  1. mattzink

    mattzink

    Jun 21, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Hello!
    I'm seriously considering getting a Tacoma Thunderchief bass very soon. I'm looking for the pros and cons of the bass, particularly from those who own the bass. I'm having the local guitar dealer call Tacoma to see if they can make a custom one that is fretless. I'm looking for some thoughts on either the fretted version or the possibility of a fretless acoustic.

    What do you all think?

    You can go to http://www.tacomaguitars.com/models/thunderchiefs/cb10.htm for info about construction materials, etc.

    Thanks to all! Matt in Indiana
     
  2. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Hello I use the TTChief and I have to say for the money it is one of the best ABG's on the market.you can put it next to some of the high end companies out there and it will stand on it's own.it even projectcs nice and clear when not amplified.they offer a model with an all maple back and side with a spruce top,and maple neck with an Ebony fingerboard(fretless) that is nice as well.its a limited edition model.I personally have no cons with the TTChief.
     
  3. ldiezman

    ldiezman

    Jul 11, 2001
    Nashville
    I agrree.. the thunderchief is an excellent ABG.. best sounding ABG i've ever played.. if you want one.. get it
     
  4. Here we go again, every time one of these ABG threads come up, I go through my same old schpeel.

    Before you buy your Thundercheif, Which is a very fine instrument, I've spent many hours behind them (fretted), but I never bought it, because the Ovation Elite is so much better, IMO.

    Do yourself a favor, If you have the opportunity to check out the Ovation. You owe it to yourself to do so.

    True, they are not for everybody, you have to get over the whole roundback thing. But, if you can get used to it, It is the loudest, most natural sounding ABG out there.

    I have done side by side tests with the Ovation, Martin, Tacoma and the Taylor/Klein.

    I love my Ovation, I only wish it was fretless now.

    Okay, I'm done. Thank you, for putting up with me.
     
  5. I had a Thunderchief before I got my Taylor AB-2. The Taylor is nice, but the 'Chief beats it out in some ways, including acoustic volume. I prefer the Taylor's playability, but the Tacoma is probably my favourite for the money.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    This is bizarre - I just bumped up my old thread about adding a pickup to my Tacoma, then I see this thread. Two active Thunderchief threads at one - cool!

    Anyway, I'm very fond of my Thunderchief. I've had it since April, and I play the heck out of it around the house. That, and my guitarist buddy and I do occasional acoustic nights for rock (playing Goo Goo Dolls begs for an ABG), plus are starting to muddle out way through some neo-Celtic arrangements.

    The tone is fantastic, the volume is very good, and the playability is superb. I can easily keep up with a single acoustic fingerstyle, and can bury one when playing with a felt pick. (I still want to add a pickup to give myself more options.) The only con I can think of is that it tended to be a little neck-heavy, which I mitigated with a set of Hipshot UltraLite tuners. Not mandatory, but a nice upgrade.

    Would I buy another? In a New York minute!!!
     
  7. mattzink

    mattzink

    Jun 21, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    all of this is very helpful - thanks! i'm looking for many of the qualities that many of your are writing about. basically, the thunderchief has impressed me for the things i'm looking for: volume, clarity, playability, and to a much lesser extent, its beauty.

    let me add to my question: how do you think having a fretless thunderchief will affect the volume and clarity? i guess that is my biggest concern - that a fretless thunderchief will be a very bassy sounding mud puddle that can't hang with an acoustic guitar volume wise. i really like the 'chief, and will probably get one. if it is better to get the fretted version, i'll go with that. opinions?

    thanks to all - keep up the great responses!

    p.s. funkycarnivore - great photo! do the rest of you have photos of your 'chief that you can post? (or even your ovation elites?)
     
  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I have a Tunderchief and I absolutely love it. For years I had written off the ABG concept as flawed because none that I tried had any more volume than an electric. The day that first I played the Thunderchief I bought it. That's how much of an impression it had on me. I got the CB10E version from when they first came out - there wasn't even a hard case available when I got mine. I had to wait months for availability.

    It is also very beautiful, though I hate the "pickguard" thing. I'd rather just have wood.

    Also, mine has the Fishman Prefix Plus preamp. I don't know if they still make them with this preamp but if they do, I recommend it highly. I would even receommend a used Fishman P-Plus equipped Thunderchief over a new one with the L.R. Baggs preamp. I've borrowed and used the new L.R. Baggs model and it had trouble with feedback on stage where the Prefix Plus has a "Notch" knob that allows you to dial out the feedback. Important in a live situation.

    This bass sounds nice acoustically, and fabulous electric.

    The only con is that it is a very large instrument and that can make it a bit awkward to play. I use the top of the neck as a thumb anchor and play either regular fingerstyle over the neck or turn my hand and play with the sides of my fingers like an upright.

    I want a five string fretless version now.
     
  9. BassAxe

    BassAxe

    Jul 22, 2002
    Culpeper, VA
    Another Thunderchief owner, here.

    Two threads in one night, hey maybe we ought to start our own club?

    I can't say enough good things about this bass. None the less, here are a few cons.

    Frets - My first bass came with 24 frets. It has become an irrational personal preferance. The Tacoma has only 20.

    Soundhole location - As you can see from the pics the soundhole is off-center on the body. In some playing positions, for tonal variety, my hand obscures and mutes its sound projection.

    Bridge - Basically, it doesn't move. That limits how you can set the action only with the neck relief.

    Taylor makes an acoustic bass guitar with a 24 fret neck. Its soundhole is also off-center, but on the other side where my hand will never interfere with it. I haven't found one to play, yet. Even if I liked the sound of it, the Taylors range from $2,000-$3,000 and come only with a flimsy gig bag.
     
  10. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I am the proud owner of a 5 string Tacoma, and can only say one bad thing about it.

    Its big.

    But hey we choose bass knowing everything was gonna be bigger and heavier, so Im sure we can look past that one more time.

    It has incredible volume and projection, and is a joy to play.

    I play it mostly acoustically, but for the one gig I did with it for a school production, I miked it since I didnt buy it with a pickup. This was for a crowd of about 200, so I did have to go through the PA. I do recommend that you get the pickup as having to hold completely still infornt of a mic is a pain in the @$$.

    Its an incredibly beautiful instrument that I got for only $780, and will never(!) sell!

    Peace
    Nick
     
  11. Okay, You said you want photos:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Please pardon the crappy digital pix.
     
  12. mattzink

    mattzink

    Jun 21, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    limezone - good looking bass! is it your main bass?

    what about the rest of you guys - in what circumstances do you use your thunderchief?

    based on the responses i've gotten, i think i'm going to go for it. some of the drawbacks mentioned don't bother me so much. for instance, i like jumbo bodied gutiars and basses. they tend to have excellent tone and projection. the other abg i really like is the guild acoustic - for the same reason: big body. i may not get the fretless thunderchief, because i found a $750 thunderchief in Indianapolis. i think at the price, i'd better move on it.

    anyway, i'll keep you all posted and post a pic when i get it.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The fretless Thunderchief doesn't lack for clarity and volume; if anything, it sounds better than the fretted version. The fretless, like the fretted, sounds kind of "husky" (maybe because of the phosphor strings), but it's plenty loud. And it has the right bounce for walking bass lines.
     
  14. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Your string choice will really affect the character of your Thunderchief.

    Mine came with Elixirs, which I immediately switched out for Labella Black Nylon tapes (available cheap from Carvin). I also have a set of T-I Acousticores that I picked up from Steve "Dude" Barr which I'll try at some point.

    I really like the slightly muted thump of the LaBellas!
     
  15. HeavyDuty is right on with that, the tapewound strings are totally the way to go!


    Main Bass?

    That's a tough one to answer. I'm in three serious projects right now, and I switch up all the time.

    Celebration - (all Jazz and Dixieland standards with the occasional Ballad thrown in), I play exclusively upright.

    Moe's Better Blues - (Rock, Soul, Funk, Reggae, Swing and Blues), I play my '78 Ibanez Roadster W/ a beautiful fretless maple fingerboard, and I usually bring the upright to the gigs for looks and to do the Swing and jump blues numbers.

    Seguso - (Rick Seguso - a singer, songwriter, guitar player along the lines of Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash), I play the Ovation about half the time and then split it up between the other two.
    But when I'm at home and I have a quick idea or something jumps into my mind, and I have to hear it, the Ovation is usually the first one I grab.

    I recognize how lucky I am to have so many great cats to play with. :D
     
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I play weekly in my church chior and am in a little acoustic trio with my brother Peter (who is a brilliant singer/songwriter). I also woodshed a lot.

    I switch between the Tacoma and my fretless 5 string Dean Edge about 50/50 for both of these situations, and both work great. I only play my electric fretted basses when woodshedding in my home office. Used to play in a rock and roll band. :)

    The best thing about the Tacoma is that it's loud enough that I don't need to bring an amp to choir practice. I can just bring the bass. It doesn't "fill the room" but it does the job fo rmy practice needs. One of the guitarrists (who has a bunch of beautiful acoustics) always tries to position himself "just so" because he loves the sound of it. :D
     
  17. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I play weekly in my church chior and am in a little acoustic trio with my brother Peter who is a brilliant singer/songwriter. I also woodshed a lot.

    I switch between the Tacoma and my fretless 5 string Dean Edge about 50/50 for both of these situations, and both work great. I only play my electric fretted basses when woodshedding in my home office. Used to play in a rock and roll band. :)

    The best thing about the Tacoma is that it's loud enough that I don't need to bring an amp to choir practice. I can just bring the bass. It doesn't "fill the room" but it does the job fo rmy practice needs. One of the guitarrists (who has a bunch of beautiful acoustics) always tries to position himself "just so" because he loves the sound of it. :D
     
  18. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I use it mainly for songwritting and aranging jams with my band.

    I also use it for practices without drums, get togethers, small jams with friends, and small gigs (coffee houses, bookstores).

    I have also used it for a gig to about 150 people at school, but I had to mic it and go through the PA.

    Peace
    Nick