Losing Sleep! P Bass or Thunderbird?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jbalou02, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    I'm struggling...I want to add a horse to the stable, but I'm just not sure which way to go! I've leaned from one side of the fence to the other so many times my head is spinning.

    Here's my delema. I have a old Jazz bass now, a Warmouth body (I think made out of Leadwood) with a Mightymite neck, EMG's and a Smith IV bridge, and I'm using Ernie Ball Power Slinky 55-110's because, well, fat strings feel good and I liked the purple package best. It has served me extremely well in previous years playing in an old school blues band, but I've got a new gig playing more of a eclectic rock mix (from Jefferson Airplane to Soundgarden) and I'm not getting the growl and sustain I think I'd like, find myself seeming to "run out of breath" on long held out low end hits.

    I know this is probably part of my problem but honestly although I've been playing a long time, I'm not much of a technical person...more so a "strap it on and thump it out - can somebody turn the nobs on this amp for me" player, and I don't have much experience (ok zero) with action set up either. I'm using a Hartke 5500 with a 410xl cabinet and borrowed no name 15" bottom. I've been quite happy with the Jazz, it plays well and the rig sounds fine, its just I'm losing the long notes pretty noticeably and I just dont feel I'm getting the bottom end bark like I want it, and any amount of tinkering doesn't seem to provide the results I'm satisfied with.

    Style wise, I'm rarely up the neck very far. I'm most comfortable pumping out the bottom end finger style and I couldn't slap my way out of a paper bag.

    Thus my dilemma. I'm going to add another bass to the mix, and I guess (more indecision) I've narrowed it down to a P Bass or Thunderbird based on the old school brand, body style, cool people who play them (yes I'm sure there are cool people who don't play them), research on what I think they can provide me, reviews and suggestions, etc. I definately want to stick with used...I have some wierd phobia about new stuff. I love the look of both basses, kinda have a Fender preocupation, but wouldn't mind something new and different. I don't have access to a close enough shop or a valid drivers license (doh!) to try one on in person, so this will be a remote purchase based on months of agonizing deliberation, craigslist and ebay watching, research, youtube reviews, culminating in the discovery of this awesome forum and maybe some of your input, as well as finally having the dough to pull the trigger.

    So, your thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Raw N Low

    Raw N Low If I can't hear it, hopefully I'll feel it Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Denver, Colorado
    Honestly they are both dime a dozen style basses. I don't think that adding a new one to the stable is gonna fix your problem. If your not a technical guy (as neither am I) it sounds like to me you need to have your bass set up. I have a feeling your going to buy another bass and end up with the same song and dance. Did your bass just give up the ghost or was it always like that? It sounds like old strings or a bad bridge setup to me.
  3. fitz420

    fitz420 Knows Lows

    Oct 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    i've owned both and like both. practically speaking, i couldn't deal with the thunderbirds tendency to "dive bomb", and didn't find it very comfortable to play. loved the neck, not so much on the body....not to mention, i gig alot and have broken necks in the past, its much easier to replace a bolt on neck that fix a neck thru. still.....thunderbirds are pretty cool looking and sounding, i'd take a p though.
  4. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Thanks for your input King. I wish they were a dime a dozen! I agree setup might be an issue on the sustain, strings no, I replace them regularly. But it seems to me the consensus is that there are other basses that might be more apt to give me the fatter, punchier low end sound I'm searching for. Maybe not, I don't know. I'm not just adding a second bass for the sake of it. I play out alot, and I've always wanted a second bass and should have a standby. I've just never had the cash and felt comfortable with the JB with the more laid back blues style I was playing exclusively.
  5. travisivart


    Mar 2, 2010
    I say go for the P. SO much more comfortable and balanced than the thunderbird. and if you need more sustain have you thought of a compressor? It'd be cheaper than a new bass but KingRAW is right, it could just be that your bass needs adjusting.
  6. wideyes


    May 9, 2007
    Eugene, OR
    The p will give you what you want. Nice thing about the p is, it's a simple but very useful sound, and (IME disclaimer!) you can get the p sound out of a relatively cheap bass, Squier or MIM or whatnot.
  7. nato101010


    Dec 12, 2009
    Instead of telling you what you should do, I'm going to answer your question from my POV.

    I like the Thunderbird better. They neck dive isn't that bad! Get a good strap, don't wear it ******** high, and you'll be good. I like the big sound of a T-bird, and I like more than one pickup.
  8. Between the two the P Bass hands down
    I think the Jazz is more puncher
    but the P Bass is more deeper and ballsier

    +1000 on a setup
  9. Gelfin


    Nov 28, 2009
    If your after lowend punch and sustain consider a Rickenbacker!
  10. P bass all the way, never have cared for T-birds.:smug:
  11. just because it looks so cool! :D
  12. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Thanks for all of your opinions everyone, this really does help me sort things out. Gelfin, your comment actually brings out a twist to this dilemma of mine I will obviously have to explore as well. I wish I could afford to consider a Rick! Unfortunately, money is an issue to a certain extent, and ultimately will play an important roll in the decision I make. I only have about 1k to spend, and wouldn't mind spending less. I don't think Ill find a decent Thunderbird that won't eat that entire budget, while I might be able to find a good CIJ P for 3/4 of that or less. Hell the way people talk about MIM's around here I might even get lucky spending pennies on the Gibson dollar.

    Hmmm....I wish the TBirds didn't look so cool and John Entwistle was my dad, this would be easier. Not that I don't love the look of the P as well, but I kinda have that Fender look taken care of with my J.

    I know, I know, looks aren't everything, but I'm quite ugly, so it might help balance the scales a bit.
  13. ProfGumby


    Jan 15, 2007
    Michigan's U.P.
    I am not gonna add to the bass debate other than to say maybe you should learn basic setup and how to "turn the knobs on this thing" for yourself before you run out and buy a bass you may not like. Or consider borrowing or renting one to play in a band setting and see what it/you can do with it. But I have to warn you, if you don't have the bass set up right for your likes and do not dial in the amp and bass settings, you may write off a great bass as poor sounding or playing.
  14. Raw N Low

    Raw N Low If I can't hear it, hopefully I'll feel it Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Denver, Colorado
    Well, with $1K to spend your pretty much in a win-win situation...as long as you buy an Epi T-Bird or a MIM Fender P. You can shop around for a used one that has "NOT BEEN ABUSED", I say this because I know how you feel about new gear. If you shop around you should be able to find either one for $200-$500. You could take another $200 and really build it up to be a semi-pro work horse. Then I would take another $75-$100 and update your current JB. Trust me you can stretch and do alot with a thousand bucks.
  15. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Point well taken. Maybe you can show me, I'm right across the bridge from you!

    With that said, It's not like I can't push the sliders on the eq or turn or fiddle with the height of the saddles on my bridge to help the action if I wanted to, but I've never wanted to, the bass functioned excellently for what I was doing with it, and still does. I just notice something lacking with this new gig though.

    Is it possible that the bass just doesn't have the capability to produce the low end growl and kind of sustain that I am looking for? Or does it have to be its not set up right or I'm doing something wrong?

    I appreciate all the input. I hope I'm not sounding defensive. But the primary thing here isn't the J Bass. I'm looking for a second bass. I'm going to get one. My object isn't achieving the sound I'm looking for on my J Bass. It's purchasing a new bass that has more natural capacity to reach this goal and to be used as a primary or backup, depending on the gig I'm playing.
  16. Thorsoundcore

    Thorsoundcore Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    Capital district, NY
    of course i'm going to say thunderbird!!! i HAVE to, cause no one else will. besides, i'm tired of see millions of P's everywhere i go. and the tone IMO isn't that versitle.
    don't get me wrong i like fenders and P basses. but EVERYONE else does too...
  17. get the p man
  18. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    I like this idea. While its been somewhat agonizing to ponder the differences, I've actually enjoyed all the researching. I guess continuing that into researching some customization and doing the work myself would help me get some hands on as far as setup goes as well. I'm fairly handy and somewhat intelligent, I don't think it would be a stretch to expect a successful outcome. I know I certainly have found the right place to get some good support if I need it!

    Roger that infamus...versitality is certainly something that I should be considering, especially when the range of tunes I'm playing now span Baracuda to Basketcase!

    EDIT: Doh! Steve Fossen and Mike Dirnt both play P's!
  19. Lukejt


    May 24, 2008
    Try some different strings, that should change your tone. And don't overlook Squier's nicer versions, the CV and VM series are nicer than MIM Fenders imho (sold my MIM and got two nice Squiers and had beer money left over).
  20. Ef4


    Jul 28, 2009
    with 1 k buy a mim p bass AND an epiphone thunderbird;)
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