How do I get the Thumb Bass sound using a Non Thumb?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Whippet, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. Exactly. Take some active pickups like EMGs, place them in the Thumb locations, then grab a Thumb preamp and use that. Boom, done.
     
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  2. matante

    matante

    Nov 3, 2003
    A fretless Warwick Thumb NT is my unicorn and I will have one someday. Having said that, I love them for their looks. The sound is nothing unique. Over the years they've come standard with different woods and different electronics as well. Seymour Duncans were standard in the early '90s.

    I played one in a music store once and I sounded just like I do on any other bass. Listen to Jack Bruce's recordings with his. Sounds good but nothing unique about it.
     
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  3. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Probably would need to use MECs to get as close to the Thumb sound as possible.
     
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  4. Yeah, good point, although a lot of Thumbs have either EMGs stock, or EMGs get dropped in. I guess you'd need to know what the specific player you are trying to emulate is using. Either way, 2 active J pickups in the right positions and a relatively "clean/hi-fi" active preamp will nail it.
     
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  5. matante

    matante

    Nov 3, 2003
    Thumb bass has been around since the '80s. MECs have only been used in them for about 10-12 years.
     
  6. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    My add is that I hear it quite a bit in Nathan East's Get Lucky line (but I saw a dude on tour playing it on a Warwick and it was mire Warwicky. And I've got it very close with a Bongo, of all things, 5HH by accident. I was about the mids, as I'm sure multiple people are saying in general. I also heard it in the Lull Brian Beller bass I tried.

    The point is that I think it can be had in different basses.. might take a lot of eq and technique (no matter which bass, different technique brings out different qualities of tone). I doubt that you need expensive to do it.
     
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  7. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    True. I assumed it was about the current one.
     
  8. Whippet

    Whippet

    Aug 30, 2014
    There is one for sale with his signature for only 3000 bucks!!! But I would like a 5 string fretted.
     
  9. Whippet

    Whippet

    Aug 30, 2014
    Only 3000!!! LOL
     
  10. Whippet

    Whippet

    Aug 30, 2014
    I am going to try what you said. I know there are tons of different thoughts on tone wood so I won't get into that but that sweepable mid control could be the answer.
     
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  11. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Tejas
    Just like with the Stingray, Precision bass, and most any other iconic bass...pickup placement has a LOT to do with the sound.

    5N_1275080004BDBPOWWW_01.jpg


    Thumb definitely has a unique pickup placement, that's also not taking into account the pickups and electronics as well. IMHO, the only thing that will get you close to a Thumb without being one, is getting a custom builder to get the same electronics and pickup placement, but that may end up costing you more than if you find a used Thumb.
     
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  12. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Definitely.

    While bearing some superficial resemblance to the Fender Jazz's pickups, the Thumb's pickup orientation isn't common at all.
     
  13. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    Go for it! I'm sure wood choice has at least SOME impact but the electronics are going to get you a lot more mileage. My jazz bass preamp has a sweepable mid control and plain old single coil pickups. In a live mix I can get close enough to just about any of the "main" useful bass sounds by playing with the mid and favoring one pickup over the other.
     
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  14. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Whenever I read about people GASing for a Thumb NT I think about the 2002 Thumb I once owned. It was, hands down, the worst Warwick I have ever played (I had to order one as the shop didn't have any in stock). Really thin sounding and when I'd boost the bass it would just get muddy. Totally useless in a live setting. My favourite Thumbs have been bolt-ons (though I do also quite like my friend's '86 NT Thumb).
     
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  15. Whippet

    Whippet

    Aug 30, 2014
    There are a bunch of bolt-ons for much cheaper price. Some as low as 2000 for a 6 stringer and 1800 for a 5er. Some say the bolt-ons are better. Others say you're getting only half the experience. Some even say there is no difference.

    I have never played them side by side and the only one I know is the 5 string through neck with 3 band eq. I am just going to have to try these things out..... The only problem I see is that the bolt-ons have ovangkol bod and neck. Only a handful of them have the bubinga wenge combo.
     
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  16. CRich0205

    CRich0205

    Feb 17, 2013
    Kansas
    I just sold a 93 bolt on 5. No nothing sounds exactly like a thumb. Mids and hand placement yada yada will help but they have a very distinct voice. Mine was in great condition and I really enjoyed it but the neck dive is real. The way mine sat on a strap it would pinch something in my shoulder and make my left hand fall asleep after an hour or so at band practice. I'm sure I will miss it but someone else will enjoy it.
     
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  17. Whippet

    Whippet

    Aug 30, 2014
    heard about that neck dive and experienced it too. Putting a scratch pad on the back alleviates it a little though. It keeps from slipping. Not the best solution but still some kind of a solution.
     
  18. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Trying out as many as you can is definitely the best option. It's not just a matter of choosing the model, it's a matter of choosing the one. Of course, luck can often have something to do with it. As for the BOs vs NTs, it's difficult to say. Try ten NTs and you may find there's considerable enough variation between all ten. I think a lot of people (consciously or not) buy into the idea that the NT Warwicks are somehow better than the BOs. Of the three Warwicks I owned long term (I also owned a couple for less than 24 hours each) two were NT (2002 Thumb 5 and a 1991 Streamer Stage 1 4) and one was BO (2004 Thumb 4) and the BO was definitely the best built (and the best sounding, to my ears).
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  19. I never did like the mec stuff too much (and boy is it spendy they make em in house) I like the bass line pickups or Barts single coils on a warwick thumb. The sixes have a bigger pickup so I wonder if that plays a little into the sound as well. They are unique voiced instruments even with different pickups just saying the positioning is way different than most basses.
     
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  20. I have played some of the bolt on and nts many of them I still prefer the nt. Now there are a few gems that are bolt on. But I also noticed a lot of warwicks are not taken care of entirely too well not being finished they are more likely to succumb to weather if not waxed periodically. My thumb was a little weird with fret buzz before I defretted it and poly'd now it's perfect and has super low action. Just be careful who you buy from
     
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