Educate Me On Thunderbirds

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Marshall Guiton, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. So I've had GAS for a Thunderbird for a long time. I love the look, the tone, the history, etc. But I haven't found one that I love the playability of, yet. I get that they hang different from Fenders, that's not so much my issue with them. The few US Gibson T-Birds I've played had necks that felt really sticky (I believe they were both the 120th Anniversary models, if that helps). Most of the Epiphone T-Birds I've played were just meh, none of them really grabbed me. However, I recently played an Epiphone T-Bird Goth that came really close to what I was looking for. It had a really smooth satin-finished neck, and was very light, which is a plus. However, it was more than I'd want to spend on an Epiphone-it was close enough to a US Gibson that I'd rather just get the real deal.

    So my questions are, which Thunderbird models should I look into? Did they make a USA Gibson Thunderbird goth? Are the sticky neck finishes common, or were the couple that I played just from a bad batch?

    Thanks in advanced, and sorry for the kinda long post.
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Very common with gloss finishes on all instruments. You can make them into satin finishes with sandpaper or a scotch brite pad in about 30 minutes.
    CaseyJ and Aqualung60 like this.
  3. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    These kind folks will tell you everything you need to know about thunderbird basses, and then some:

    Thunderbird Club
  4. Very good idea-I did that to an LTD I had and turned out very well. I will keep that in mind. Thanks!
  5. Thanks! guess I should've asked there, first. I'll take my questions over there.
    Sartori likes this.
  6. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    My favorite "T-bird" is actually a "D-bird"
  7. bylar13


    Dec 19, 2016
    Well as a "new to me" Thunderbird owner I am enjoying mine quite a bit. Playing it through an Orange OB-1 500 head and 1x12 & 1x15 cabinet. The OEM bridge was replaced with a Babzic and the pick ups are Lollar Thunderbird replacement pick ups.

    Mine is a 2006, Gibson. The tone is fantastic and the neck is very fast and very even (no dead notes). It weighs 8lbs. 12oz and has no issues with neck dive.

    It took some figuring on how to get it set up comfortably on the strap and the good folks in the thunderbird club helped with that. Coming from playing a '73 Jazz bass for the last 22 years, it was a bit of a change moving to the T-Bird.
    I found by moving the bass a little lower, using my hip instead of my stomach helped to put the bass in a position that was easy to play and comfortable. I also removed the Dunlop strap locks and replaced with the big Fender rubber washer type strap lock. I found that the Dunlop's moved the bass away from my body and it had a tendency to tilt away from my body as well. This made it harder to see the fret board and keep it level while I was playing. Using the original strap buttons and the big rubber style O-rings pushed the strap flush against the body and helps keep the bass flush.
    Again, the sound and playability are fantastic and the difference in low end compared to my Jazz is noticeable.
  8. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    This upsets me, enough to where I recently replied to a Craigslist post for a $379 used goth.

    You can get a brand new one for $349, sometimes on sale for $299. The one I have was being offered for $175, I sweetened the deal by making the trade the goth plus $100 for my ibanez SR500 (effectively accepting $275 value for my ibanez, a good deal). The satin neck feels similar to a raw exotic wood neck, like the wenge/bubinga on my ibanez I traded for it.

    I really like the satin finish, but anyone selling one for more than $200 is just being a jerkwad jumping on the "let's all say our epiphone Thunderbird bolt on basses appreciate in value" bandwagon that seems to have infected Craigslist and eBay. It has also recently affected the perceived value of peavey furies. I apologize, because it is my fault, if I was not also looking for another bird and/or a peavey fury, the prices would not have artificially gone up (one guy asks too much, one sucker buys, and then everyone starts asking too much). Yes the world revolves around me.

    I just got my goth on Nov 30, so I am not just reminiscent of years gone by. Check completed listings, a beat up goth went for $124, and most of the others went in the $200 or less ballpark.

    Or just buy a new one for no more than $349 and get a lifetime warranty with it.
    Marshall Guiton and jd56hawk like this.
  9. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    When you say you've played Epiphone Thunderbirds have you tried the other two good ones, because they're different beasts entirely.
    Classic IV. Gibson pickups, every bit as good as a new Gibson T-bird, in my opinion but for one third the price.
    Pro IV. Active electronics. Some people don't like the preamp but with flatwounds this thing is a killer. Not to mention the neck is satin smooth and the bridge is far superior to the 3-point bridge.
    If I find one of these in trans black I'm going to jump on it and forget all about the Classic IV.
  10. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    Is the classic IV neck through like the pro? I get tempted by reasonably priced pros locally, but I hold back because I need the passive Thunderbird sound. It also looks like that classic has the slim taper 1.5 neck. I wouldn't mind a slim taper neck, the goth has a 1.68 or wider nut, which is fine because I am playing relatively simple material on it (system of a down tribute), but I would love to have the TV silver with slim taper neck, but can't afford $350 right now, and wouldn't pay more than $250 even if I had the money. It is still a Chinese bass that sold for $349-399 new in 2013-14, even if only 1000 were built. Shavo has custom silver thunderbirds, so it would be almost ideal for the tribute. The goth does fine in the meantime. If the TV silver at a semi local pawnshop is still there in 3 weeks after my next paid gig, I might reconsider, or at least make a 2nd attempt at $250 "come on guys, obviously the price is too high regardless of what someone told you, the one on eBay for $350 isn't moving, and the only completed listing for one was $255 including a hard case, finish cracks at the neck pocket vs case, take my money! $250"
    RedVee and Marshall Guiton like this.
  11. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Both thin necks, but the natural Pro IV is smoother, of course, due to the finish.
    I've used a Scotch-Brite pad on glossy necks, wonders.
    Here's my old ungothed Goth.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
  12. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    I don't know about that being ungothed, the red trim is very Gothic! I want to ungoth mine with a white pickguard eventually.
    panamonte and jd56hawk like this.
  13. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I should've done away with the iron cross and just left the T-bird.
    JFOC likes this.
  14. Wow. Everytime I see a Dingwall I'm impressed. I'm sure it's out of my price range, but I will look into these. Thanks!
  15. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    Iron cross was from the Nikki sixx right?
    RedVee likes this.
  16. Wow, that is a ton of great info. Thank you so much! I will keep all of that in the back of my mind for when I get my TBird. Do you find it any more or less comfortable than your Jazz? Or just different?
    On a side note, that setup must sound amazing.
    Oh, and do you have any pics of your bass?
  17. Yeah, I definitely see that a lot, more with the Peaveys than anything else. The worst part is, the one I was looking at wasn't even on EBay or Craigslist-it was in a Long & McQuade used section, for almost $700 CAD. It really was a nice bass, but I didn't even pay that much for my MIA Fenders.
    Where would you recommend ordering a new one from? I like the idea of it being under warranty.
  18. Susqmike


    Nov 15, 2011
    Axstar, TBird1958 and Marshall Guiton like this.
  19. I don't think I've tried a Classic IV, but I'd love to get my hands on one. That white headstock detail is gorgeous.
    I did play a Pro IV once, however. Very nice bass for the price, but again, it just didn't grab me. Maybe I need to go and play some more of them, though. The preamp and different style of bridge is pretty cool to see on a TBird, maybe I'll look into these.
  20. Wow, that thing is stunning. Is that one of the Epi Goths, or is that a Gibson?
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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