1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Epi vs Gibson Thunderbird

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fletz, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    I recently played a very used Gibson Thunderbird at my local guitar store. Kinda tempted to buy it. I loved everything about it (other than the price for the condition).

    I walked into Guitar Center yesterday and played a white Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV and was hardpressed to tell the significant differences. (I am a Squier/Fender snob - only American Fenders for me ... don't judge me. :cool: ) With the neck thru (7 ply vs. 9) and American Gibson pickups, they seem very similar, no?

    Can someone tell me why I wouldn't go with the $499 NEW epiphone instead of an $800 very used (but not brutalized) Gibson Thunderbird?

  2. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    Curious... When you said you were "hardpressed to tell the significant differences", does that mean you liked the sound and/or playability better on the Gibson? Even just a little? Was there a weight difference? The Pro IV's look nice, like a better version of the standard EPI-T's...
    You also might want to consider that GC does free setups on new basses. At least mine does. It can really make a difference in playability. My GC tech has fixed up 3 of my basses real nice.
  3. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Didn't note a real weight difference. There was something a little "cooler" about the Gibson. So intangible. Was it $300 cooler? I am not sure.
  4. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    If the difference is not significant, save the money. If the instrument sounds good who cares what it says on the headstock. I'd play a chinese knockoff that said Gipson if it sounded good (the issue of course usually is that they don't).
  5. I have played both. I would say that the Epiphone thunderbird is easily as good as the Gibson.
  6. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    I have played a few of both, and as long as you are not looking at a bolt on Epiphone, it's going to vary from bass to bass like any other kind of bass. Beyond that, I couldn't tell much difference between an Epi and a Gibson. The new ones even use the same pickups, as far as I know. I would love to have a Gibson, but I'm also semi responsible about money, so I have an Ephphone.
  7. WowSuchPunx


    Feb 17, 2014
    I played an Epiphone Thunderbird at a local music store and it was easily one of the worst basses I have ever played, go with the Gibson.
  8. MoreBeer


    Jan 5, 2014
    The Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV is a damn nice bass and is on my shopping list at some point this year. The Gibson is just crazy money down the tubes....nothing more.
  9. MrTaff


    Jan 20, 2014
  10. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    I have a '13 Gibson T-Bird. However, since I'm a lefty, there wasn't much of a choice for me. Personally, I didn't think it was all that expensive, but I have an Alembic, too, and a couple of Ricks. If the Epi was new, and you really were hard pressed to tell the difference, then get the Epi. :)
  11. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Yes. $800 is a great price for a Gibson, and the authentic wear adds a lot to the "mojo."

    Also, it will be easier to sell the Gibson if you decide you're not really a Thunderbird person.
  12. Gibson's made in USA
    Epi made off shore
    Gibson will hold or improve in value
    Epi ??? doubt it. Also heard (rumor) that the pup's are not the same.
    $800 seems fair for a G-T-bird
  13. TBird1958

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

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    I had the new Epiphone Classic Pro to review (it's somewhere on TB) about a year back, it's a great Thunderbird for the money, it's 9ply and does have U.S. pickups. The neck is very slim and fast but not quite a Gibson - not bad by any means tho. I think they're around $500.00 and totally worth it. The comment about it's resale value is valid, tho most Post '88 Gibsons aren't going up in price either - gotta be from the '70s or earlier.
    Epiphone also modified the body shape every so slightly to improve upper fret access and reduced the headstock size as well, the balance very well.

    Here's a side by side with my '89 Gibson.

    RedVee likes this.
  14. So TB58 do the Epi pups sound close to the newer Gibson pups (or the same)? What about the weight? Thanks
    Hey, by the way I love your vid's you rock!
  15. TBird1958

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

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups

    The pups are the same as current U.S. Gibson - the latest incarnation of them ( since being re issued in '88 I've documented at least four different TB Plus pickup designs) anyway. Weight is the same too, under 9lbs for either.
    I really like the Epiphone - wish they'd make some other colors tho, I already have two white 'Birds. Great bass for the $$$

    Thanks for the kind words about the band too - it's a lot fun! :bassist:
  16. SlingBass4


    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    I've always been a "Made In The USA" kind of guy. That said: I've owned a '60's Hofner, '70's Rics (2), and a couple other off-shore guitars and/or basses whose brand names don't immediately come to mind (that getting 'older and wiser' bit is BS). I have 2 Epi Classic T-Birds that feel, play, and sound good. I'm getting ready to have some fret finishing work done, and I'll probably install some new Hipshot tuners before hand - the jury is still out on the need of Hipshot bridges. For the initial $600 each w/case - I find these a lot of fun and good bang for the buck. IF one them is injured while I'm out and about...I'll not cry, either. I'm selling/parting out my other basses and pieces parts with the proceeds going towards my Sadowsky Metro (MIJ) Wil Lee bass fund. Thinking changes over time. It's getting to be a more level playing field out there, and alternatives should at least be considered :smug:
  17. Rocker949


    Apr 20, 2005
    That's only a $300 price difference. I'd go with the Gibson, although in this case the Epi sounds like it would be good, too. There is really no way to lose.
  18. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    The other interesting value add to the $800 Gibson is it includes the case. Kinda reduces the $300. If only I can sell my speaker and amp here ...
  19. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    That is a great point - espescially as I am a serial buyer/tryer/seller ... :smug:
  20. tomshepp

    tomshepp Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Maynard MA
    Key words = "Classic Pro" This Epiphone is most like the Gibson.

    I think there are at least two other Epiphone versions of the Thunderbird.

    The OP should want to compare apples to apples.:D