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Gibson Studio Thunderbird 5-string Review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassjunior, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. Hey guys, here's a review of the aforementioned bass. It's also in another thread, but I figured I'd also post it here to allow people to put their own experiences with it.

    I actually own the T-Bird 5......for tonight, the thing goes back tomorrow. And here are the reasons why. For the truly curious, here is what I ran it through: Eden WT-800, Eden 210XLT, SWR Big Ben, Monster Bass Cable, I play fingers only. No lack of bottom ability from the rig :).

    1. Finish, finish, finish: You keep hearing it, and it's still true, especially here in Canada. You think you've got finish issues in the States? Try coming to Canada, I work at L&M in Calgary and see every Gibson that comes in, so sad. They say Canada gets the seconds, and it's true.

    2. Technical Issues: Does anyone at Gibson really check out these instruments before they go out the door? My inspection card has a straight line through all the check boxes, no individual checks. This would indicate to me that one guy just looked at it, briefly, and ran his pen through it.

    I removed the pickups to try and fix a slant issue (bridge PU was leaning backwards), and lo and behold, the area where the adjustment screws go into the body was cracked in half, on both sides, on both pickups. Pre-drilling? Who knows if they even did it.

    The truss rod. What a nightmare. First of all, hard to adjust as it was so close to the headstock wood. Secondly, the truss rod when well adjusted rattles like a loose tuning head. So annoying, and not easily fixed. Again, no attention to the most basic elements of setup.

    3. Sound: I have to admit, G through E were nice and warm, if a bit muddy, which was also not helped by the inability to set the neck without truss rod rattle. The ceramic humbuckers are pretty nice, at least for those strings. The B, on the other hand, had the weakest sound I've heard in a while. The balance was completly out, and no matter what I tried I couldn't make it sound good.

    Here's an example: While playing a simple open B power chord (B,F#,B) I could hardly hear the low B, the E had great tone, as did the B. But what's the point of a 5 string? Low B of course.

    So, a bad example, or a bad bass in general? I don't really know, although with pickups being a problem it could easily be the whole line that has issues.

    I'm gonna try that Ibanez BTB Prestige 1205 I passed up to get this bass. Hopefully that one will grab me and not let go.
  2. JKwo


    Jan 12, 2006
    For the only one i've played, the sound was ridiculously muddy and it had terrible neck dive.
  3. cpach


    Feb 28, 2006
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I think the BTB might make you happy. It makes me sad, because I can't afford one right now.

    Great review, hope things work out for you.
  4. Assumer


    Mar 26, 2003
    Have you tried the Yamaha basses? I just picked up a TRB5II and love it. Was not looking for a bass but this came along and it sounds and plays great.
  5. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Man, I was so psyched when they came out with a Thunderbird 5.

    I guess when they say only a Gibson is good enough, they mean...not great.
  6. anonymous278347457

    anonymous278347457 Guest

    Feb 12, 2005

    I played a TRB4 once, it was so comfortable, id have to say that yamahas make some of the most comfortable basses ever
  7. Firstly, excellent review, Bassjunior, I've been wondering how those 5 string T-birds were since I first saw them at Musiciansfriend. Maybe you got a lemon, but I've heard other stories of Gibson's quality control getting worse in the past few years.

    Secondly, BUY THAT IBANEZ BTB 1205 !!!

    I just bought one in January; in fact it's 3 months old today, and let me just say that it is a beautiful instrument looks-wise, sounds great and the workmanship is top-notch!

    I'm so happy with mine. I haven't posted a review yet, but will probably do so soon.

    If you have any questions about this bass, feel free to ask them here, or PM me.

    Believe me, you won't be disappointed if you buy one of these!

    Mike ;)
  8. 808


    Jan 24, 2006
    There's nothing wrong – both technically and sound-wise – with my (recently purchased) T'bird Studio, then again I have a 4, not the 5. I had it set up by the shop I bought it from and it plays very well and sounds awesome, very balanced. Typical Gibson sound, I love it.

    The finish is so-so, yes, but I expected that and honestly, I couldn't care less.
  9. Bizmo


    Mar 13, 2006
    I bought my 2005 Gibson Les Paul Standard bass in cherry sunburst sight unseen from Music 123, & of all the problems you have, mine is just the opposite. The finish is perfect, frets dressed very smooth, I cannot think of a more beautiful instrument made.
    The only problem it had was a very annoying humming sound, depending where in the room I played it. After further investigation, it turned out to be a light dimmer switch in the dining room that was the culprit. The LP bass has a lot hotter pups than my Fender Jazz, which only slightly picked up the noise from the dimmer.
    As far as Gibson QC, I have bought maybe 10 electric, acoustic, & basses for myself & my children, & NOT 1 has any of these QC issues the Gibson bashers keep raising. Maybe not hanging on a rack in GC for a couple months has something to do with it.

    "1. Finish, finish, finish: You keep hearing it, and it's still true, especially here in Canada. You think you've got finish issues in the States? Try coming to Canada, I work at L&M in Calgary and see every Gibson that comes in, so sad. They say Canada gets the seconds, and it's true."

    OK, anyone can say the finish sucks, but what sucks about it? How about some specific examples. Overspray? Color not even? What my friend?

    The pup issue you have might just be an isolated one, mine are fine, as I recall, the same ones that are on the T-Bird. Being only a 4 string, the Les Paul does not have the 5th string to deal with, but a lot of 34 sacle 5 stringers seem to be a bit lacking in the low B dept. My Fender American Jazz V is OK, but I've played 35 basses that had a lot more defined B.

    I'm sorry your T-Bird was not what you expected, but I am happy with my LP & will keep it for as long as........
  10. 808


    Jan 24, 2006
    Regarding finish issues, I might as well add that the frets are perfect on my Studio Thunderbird. As they are on my SG Reissue.

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