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Let's talk Thunderbirds

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by $Lindz$, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    I have an Epi T Bird and I've always had the intention to buy a used Gibson some time. Well, the time is now.

    Problem is, I am in Japan (living here for at least the next year because of my job). This isn't a terrible thing, the used market over here is pretty huge, and the "trends" are a bit different, so although they are rare as hell to find, T Birds aren't as expensive as the states.

    Well I found a Gibson with a broken but repaired headstock. Black (like my Epi) and nicely worn (just what I was looking for). The broken headstock kinda puts me off a bit, since I don't exactly know HOW good of a job was done, so its a BIT of a craps shoot in that regard.

    Then I also found an equally nicely worn but taken care of Greco made in Japan T-Bird. It is a set-neck, not through-neck, and it has different pickups, bridge and tuners than the Gibson. It has no damage beyond slight cosmetic, and a retarded jack input (which is apparently problematic on Grecos).

    The Gibson is a 1997, the Greco a 1990.

    Greco is about $200 less.

    I much prefer the Gibson, but I figure I would post in here to get some opinions on this from people who have actually owned these. Please feel free to give me feedback.

    I love love love T Birds, especially playing Gibsons, and the sound that they make. I played the Greco and it definitely wasn't bad. Something was really cool about it, but then again something felt like it was faking it. Hard to explain. Mostly the "feel" of the guitar.

    Pics of the break, etc:




    Pics of the Greco:




    Thanks! First real T Bird. Its exciting.
  2. LCW

    LCW Banned

    Mar 2, 2009
    i like the Greco in looks better. Headstock repairs scare me i dont like my basses with cracks
  3. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    Are you suggesting that I search "repaired Gibson vs. Greco MIJ Lawsuit bass for roughly the same price"?

    I read a couple threads about Grecos and other non=Gibson T-Birds, and its just a bunch of pics of people's equipment and everyone talking about how rad they are.

    I know what I want, and I was almost not going to post this thread. Then I thought, hell use the internet to your advantage and see what people would do in your case.

    BTW, its 1am here, I've been working all day and I'm tired of searching and reading.

    What are Greco bodies made from?
    Do they have the sustain of the Gibson (or... close? I know nothing but Gibson will be a Gibson T Bird)
    Are '97 T Birds crap, or are they good, or what? A lot has been said about certain periods of Gibsons being shoddy. I can't remember from the top of my head. Also, is it just conjecture or are there really some crap quality Gibson T Birds?

    How hard is it to take 30 seconds and type me your opinion?
  4. TBird1958

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

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    I own several Gibsons, a Greco and an Orville (Gibson Japan) they are all good in their own ways for various reasons i.e construction or pick ups. Because you're in Japan I'd suggest the Greco or an Orville, they're much harder to find here in the States and are great basses for the $$$. The Orville is definately the better of the two and is a bit higher quality throughout, but trust me I've never regretted owning my Greco either. Both have excellent pick ups, the Greco is very hot, think P bass on steriods.

    Here's the Greco, kinda rare Thunderbird II - it's from 1977.

    And this is an Orville (Gibson TRC is non-stock) that has had a 2 point bridge from Kevin (Pro Bass) Borden installed along with a custom surf green refin. I've owned this bass a very short time and it's really impressive quality - Highly recommeded!!


    Last but not least if see on of these let me know, it's an ESP Navigator I have major GAS for one :)


    Attached Files:

  5. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    Cool! Is it like... a "Nicer than" Epiphone copy? That's how it felt.

    I really like the sound that T Birds make, and the Greco seemed "brighter". Which makes sense that you liken it to a P-Bass, albeit on steroids. Honestly, for the price, I could have both and it would still be less than what I am prepared to pay for a Gibson T Bird.

    Lets talk worst case scenario... the neck repair was a bad one and the headstock snaps off/cracks.... will I be able to take it to a legit shop and have them set pins/rods in it?

    The only thing that gets me more hot for T Birds is beat up used T Birds. Coming into this thread I was 90% ready to buy the Gibson. I would rather do that and then before leaving Japan, moving home with a rare MIJ T Bird or 2... Is that location of the break problematic? I mean... to someone who has never repaired a broken headstock (so what do I know), it looks to me like that's a good spot to break, if it HAD to. The entire neck is untouched, and its actually at or just past the nut.
  6. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    I would get better pics of the break, but many Gibson headstocks are prone to breaking and once they are repaired, they usually are STRONGER than they were before.

    If you are that concerned, have the seller provide you with contact info to the person who did the job, just to check it's legit. Or have it looked at by a luthier.

    And TBird, I'm jealous of your collection. I took a quick look at the clips posted on your webiste and the band really cooks. I was not sure if you had a drummer at first, all hiding behind the other member of the group on that tiny stage :bassist:
  7. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    TBird1958, how many MIJ rarities would it take for you to give me your white '89 Bird? Alpinewhite T Bird is the awesomest thing in the universe!
  8. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The headstock repair is a bit scary, but if it was done right, you should have no trouble with it. I'd lean toward the Gibson, but mostly because that's what a real Tbird should be, right? If it plays well, sounds and feels good, and has been properly repaired, it would fit the bill. Otherwise, I have no expirience with any of the copies, good as they probably are.
  9. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    Yeah the language barrier makes things a bit difficult, but I'll have a friend at work help me talk to that owner of the Gibson. the cool thing about Japan is how honest everyone is. If they lied to you just to get a sale, it would be such a big deal if someone found out. Its strange (coming from f*cking LA).
  10. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    I'm with you... Honestly, if the Gibson's headstock does fail and I can't get it re-fixed properly, then I will get another one, and hang this one in my apartment as the best piece of art you can buy.

    Whatever, I'm sure it will be fine. I actually want this thing much more than a new one. Ugh. New ones lack so much character.
  11. Mr. Mig

    Mr. Mig

    Sep 7, 2008
    That repair job looks pretty crappy.
  12. TBird1958

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

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    I have 2 Gibson 76's that have repaired headstock breaks and there really isn't much to fear as long as it's a competeent job, both of mine sound great and I gig them often - So while this often reduces the selling price of a bass I don't think it's something to fear.
    Honestly tho, if I were in Japan I'd sure take advantage of being able to purchase a Greco, Orville or ESP Bird, and bring it back to the States, when you get back you'll always be able to find a Gibson, especially a post '88 modern one.
    Thanks for the kind words about my band - it's certainly one of the greatest joys in my life :)

    This one's broken, repaired by Mike Lull you can't see any evidence of a break

    My White '89, retro fitted with chrome parts, it's gone to alot of shows, I'm it's only owner I don't I could trade it.

  13. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.


    You drop a Gibson, the headstock breaks. Sucks, but that is how they are built. I wouldn't worry about a PROFESSIONALLY repaired headstock on a Gibson bass in any case.

    Resale value down the road may be the only issue IMO.

  14. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    I'll keep you guys posted....

    Resale value is the last thing on my mind. I have no intentions of ever selling a T Bird.

    I'm so so on the Greco. I might pick one up (or like you said an Orville) sometime to have a bigger variety of sounds, but I am right now looking for the traditional T Bird growl.
  15. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    p.s. That Alpine white Bird is perfect in every way. Damn.
  16. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA

    Gibson headstocks break, a LOT. I've broken an SG and a Les Paul personally, and it didn't take much.

    Both took worse spills after repair and survived them.
  17. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Seems like every used Gibson T Bird has some kind of bad Karma with that head stock.

    The head stock is tilted back and it's about a foot long, no wonder they break.
  18. $Lindz$


    Oct 27, 2008
    I bought the Gibson!

    I could not be happier. I was reminded today why I love the Gibson Birds so much when I plugged her in. Amazing.

    Need tp change strings since they look like they are off the Titanic, and that's about it...

    The headstock break is actually just a crack. It is not broken all the way through. If i have problems with it in the future, i will break the headstock off completely and have it reset. Like I suspected, the crack is fully after the nut, so there is no warping or weakening of the neck itself.

    Anyways, just thought I would pop in and let everyone know I am the proud new owner of this Gibson Bird.
  19. amimbari


    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    congrats on the GibBird Lindz, I never owned a GibBird, but played enough of them to know what you have. I would have to say my set-neck Dillion is a close competitor to the GibBird in neck feel, but it is an alder body, so it sounds different. Same with my Jackson NT, it is poplar/maple and EMG'ed so it has no similarity to anything else in tone. ( or neck feel for that matter )

    hmm, lots of "POPULAR" Bird names are out there....

    and for TBIRD1958's sake, and all the others in the future ---

    obviously there are many other production runs of other companies interpretations of the Bird.

    Feel free to scold me about leaving your XXXXBird you own off the list I posted

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