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Epiphone Thunderbird Alder Body?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by barebones, Sep 9, 2008.


  1. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO
    This has been bugging me for a while, and I hope someone can clarify things here. Epiphone states on their website--and numerous sellers have restated this information--that their Thunderbird body (non-Goth model) is made of alder. While I have no way of knowing if this is true or not when it comes to the solid finish basses, I have to say that the wood grain on the sunburst model looks NOTHING like alder. It looks like mahogany. Further confusing things is the fact that every now and then I will run across an ad or sale stating that the body is indeed made of mahogany, which I tend to think is actually true. I've searched TB and can't find any discussion on this subject. Does anyone have any definitive knowledge as to whether the sunburst body is made of mahogany? Can anyone offer an informed opinion on whether he or she thinks these bodies are alder or mahogany? That tight grain just doesn't say alder to me, unless it's some variety I'm unfamiliar with.

    Matt
     
  2. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The Epi's are definately NOT mahogany. The Gibson Tbirds are. Idk what the Epi's are, but I do know it's not mahogany. The Epi necks are maple.
     
  3. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I understand your dilemma, but why would the official website tell you any different?

    if it was mahogany, the Epiphone website would say it.
     
  4. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO

    Reputable companies make mistakes on their websites all the time, and Epiphone's site is fairly low-rent. I've seen enough errors regarding the weight, dimensions, and materials for certain products to be skeptical, I suppose.

    Am I the only one whose eyes are telling him the grain on the sunburst model looks nothing like alder? I've owned an alder bass for over 20 years. I've also sold musical instruments, in retail stores and privately, for the same amount of time, so I'm not just pulling this out of my you-know-what. It seems to me the picture belies the words.

    Anyone else?
     
  5. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    do you think there is a possibility that some were actually made from mahogany, and sold as alder due to limited supply of alder wood for production purposes?
     
  6. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO

    I accept that you believe this to be the case, but, with all due respect, do you have a source to back up this statement? Other than the website, of course.
     
  7. Rota

    Rota

    Jun 11, 2007
    Mesa, Arizona
    I used to have an Epiphone Thunderbird, and it definitely had the weight and exact wood grain of mahogany on both the body and neck. Maybe the ones that are only $300 now are alder and maple. I bought mine around four years ago so maybe it was different then.
     
  8. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    hey stringbass69, would weight be a factor? the reason I ask is I have a Dillion DFBB, FOR SURE alder/maple. should I weigh the Dillion and EPI both and compare? ( meaning "could" it tell the type of wood used ) my EPIBIRD is a 1999 I guess I can take a bright close-up pic of the back of it, and compare that picture to others for grain.
     
  9. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO

    That is truly what I'm wondering. Or, alternately, do they use the alder for the solid finished basses and mahogany for the see-through finish of the sunburst? Fender and other companies commonly used alder for their solid finished bodies, due to it's rather unremarkable grain. They used the more expensive and attractive ash for basses where the wood grain of the body would be visible through a clear coat. I think that might be what's going on with these Epis.
     
  10. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO

    Unfortunately, I don't think that would be too reliable, as you can have heavy pieces of alder and light pieces of mahogany. While I do think that the mahogany would be heavier on average, I don't think weight alone would give us a definitive answer.

    Another thought: I supposed it's possible they could use an alder core with mahogany laminates on the front and back for appearance. I don't think the end grain is visible on these sunburst models, so the laminates would be hidden if they were there. Maybe I need to get one and cut it in half. Ha!
     
  11. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    i could take the neck off mine, and take a pic of the pocket--would that help? remember mine is a 1999
     
  12. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO

    It might, depending on what's visible through the stain. I'd hate to trouble you that much, though. There's a body for sale at Ebay here:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/MIK-Korean-Epip...VQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1638Q2em118Q2el1247

    Looking at the pickup and neck pocket routs, the wood below definitely looks light in color, as I would expect raw alder to look. The tight grain still looks like mahogany to me, though, and who knows how much of the light appearance of the wood in the routed areas is just excessive camera flash. Also, the end grain doesn't appear to show any laminates, but it's tough to say for sure. I know Warmoth creates the raised center portion on a thunderbird bass with a laminate. Don't know if Epiphone uses the same method.

    Anyway, I guess the question may actually be unanswerable with out cutting the body up, or seeing one before finishing at the factory. Neither of which is very practical...
     
  13. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I don't use the EPI so taking the neck off isn't too much if it will help you towards your goal, BECAUSE NOW YOU GOT ME CURIOUS!!!! and ya I saw that body on ebay, it is on my watch list so I can see what it would go for, when I'm ready to part my EPIBIRD out if that day ever comes.


    however, if the inconsistency of parts used different years..etc shows mine as mahogany, OR alder, the next one may be different.

    LETS JUST CUT ONE IN 1/2, and find out that it is the ONLY one that used ALDER, and the rest used mahogany :hyper::hyper::hyper:


    OR: I'll stick with my other post >>
    a possibility that some were actually made from mahogany, and sold as alder due to limited supply of alder wood for production purposes?
     
  14. aquateen

    aquateen

    Apr 14, 2005
    maryland
    has anyone tried emailing Gibson customer service to ask?
     
  15. I'm curious too... the Sunburst epibird is said to be made of alder, but a Guitarcenter catalog advertised it as mahogany. I'm pretty sure the goth model is mahogany- all the sources i've seen at least agree on the wood of the goth.
     
  16. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I was under the impression that mahogany is actually lighter, (less dense), than Alder. Could be wrong, but it's definately lighter in weight than Maple. Now you got me all curious too. The reason I was so sure it's not Mahogany, is because I did a little research BEFORE I bought a Gibson Studio model. Like the regular Gibson IV, it's a Mahogany body and neck, (standard models), and the Epiphones were listed as Alder, or in at least one case, Maple. And of course, maple necks. The Goth Epi is different. Although laminates would answer your initial question, I don't think they were used on any Epi Tbirds. (again, to my knowledge). One thing I know for sure, is a standard Gibson Tbird is lighter in weight than my Studio model, and/or the Epi models. Go figure.
     
  17. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    stringbass69 and everyone in the thread, here's a few pics of mine taken apart. the pot cavity is too stained so I cant see anything, but here's the rest of it.

    remember this is only ONE unit out of quite a few 100's of thousands out there, and this one was serialed as a 99.
    P1010081.
    P1010076.
    P1010075.

    you tell me, cause I know nothing about different woods, and I hope the pics helped a little.
     
  18. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    that would be no fun:smug: thats what we are here for.



    and hell those people would never be able to tell you if serial # xxxxx came with the 2 woods or not, they are lucky if they even knew from the serial, if it was a solid color or a SB.
     
  19. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Sure looks like it's got a layer of something pretty on top, no?
     
  20. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I do see a lot of SB pics here, but I'll wait cause someone else will take pics of the back of theirs from different years for "woodgrain" comparison, as I don't expect anyone else just to take the neck off at a whim like I did.


    NEW THREAD?

    SHOW ME YOUR NECK POCKET --hahaha j/k

    p.s. and since the neck is off, there was no date marks in the pocket just a straight 1.5 or so inch pen mark, and nothing on the neck except for a faded tag
    P1010078.
     

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