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Let's talk about Thunderbird cloning

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Laklandfan, May 29, 2019.


  1. Laklandfan

    Laklandfan Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    Hello, I have some questions for the Thunderbird players;
    since I've never been able to play a thunderbird (Gibson, Epi, Cataldo, etc) in person, but I've been very curious to convert a jazz or a precision to Tbird clone. I've been looking at the Thunderbucker Ranch, Lollar, Lull, and other pickup makers' selections.

    I was wondering, with a fender body, can I use a standard bridge or do Tbird pickups need higher action? I was wondering due to the extra height by the spacers underneath the trim rings. I'm not sure if I want a 1 pickup or a 2 pickup setup. Are the two pickup Thunderbirds wired in parallel VVT like a jazz or do they do something different? In general I prefer the sound from a P than a J. Should this carry over to a Tbird?

    Is there a standard template as far as where the pickups are placed in the scale length? Do they have specific "sweet spots"?

    I looked through Thunderbird Club, but it is massive and couldn't pick out these particular answers. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
  2. Bent77

    Bent77 Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    Colorado
    The T bird club would love to have you.

    And yes it’s been done
     
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Short answers:
    • Thunderbird pickups are very shallow, so bridge height is not a problem. You will have to route out a shallow cavity for them though. Trim rings are optional.
    • Yes, they’re wired same as a Jazz Bass. Different value pots, but same circuit.
     
    Reedt2000 and Laklandfan like this.
  4. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    It depends if you mean one pu compared to two, or the sound of a one (Hum-Bucker) pu compared to two HB Pu's. T-birds have buckers and 500k pots, whereas P's have one split-coil & J's have two singles and 250k pots. (not to mention where you choose to locate each) Each choice will give you a different sound. Narrow it down to exactly what you are after and a clearer tact will follow.
     
    Laklandfan likes this.
  5. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    This shows yet another option - a Fender-style (mid 60's Teisco Del Rey) thin mahogany body with an Epic Goth T-bird neck and 1 Guild Darkstar/Bi-Sonic single-coil pu with 500k pots. The pu poles are located in a different spot than a P-bass or a one pu T-bird (hum-bucker). It can sound more like a P-bass, but different and it will never sound like a two pu bass with singles or HB'rs. (or two P-bass split-coils) If you want a one pu HB'r, you can wire it series/parallel for tonal variety. It can also be wired to split the coils so it can function as a single-coil, top or bottom.

    fullsizeoutput_1a9.jpeg
     
    dmt and Laklandfan like this.
  6. jazzercountry

    jazzercountry

    Apr 12, 2000
    Las Vegas, NV
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    I used a Hipshot B style on my Fenderbird, that’s with the Thunderbucker Ranch pickups. Works great, wired up like a stacked knob jazz

    C4A224FF-E40C-4525-91DE-C753BF4E88C4.jpeg
     
  7. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    What the story on the pg and translucent knobs?
     
  8. jazzercountry

    jazzercountry

    Apr 12, 2000
    Las Vegas, NV
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    Pickguard is from Decoboom, the upper knobs are from Dcline design. They’re both very cool folks!
     
  9. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Oh yah, should have figured - I had Dcline make a brass/ebony knob for my '64 T-bird. Thanks for the info on the pg :thumbsup:
     
    jazzercountry likes this.

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