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New Gibson Explorer Longscale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TBird1958, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. 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
    Just thought I'd post some thoughts about the new long scale Explorer Gibson has just released.
    First, it's big - Like Thunderbird size but the body is thicker and has a very solid feel ,and it features a set neck, using one of my straps adjusted for a 'Bird I found the bass comfortable on my shoulder at about 10lbs and that while the headstock is small the neck will seek level if you let go. Shortening the strap really didn't change this either and I'm a bit surprised by it since the fin on the upper 'bout is so big, for me it would not be an issue because of how my right arm arm and hand rest on the bass when I'm playing - the headstock is smaller than a modern 'Bird. I found the neck to be a pretty comfy fit for my smallish hands, not quite as much taper from the high to low frets as a 'Bird, but same width at the nut and just a bit thicker in cross section. With good reason we and others have slagged Gibson on QC, but this bass is really nice, the finish is flawless and nicely done, I've looked it over very carefully and found no bad spots - It just doesn't photograph too well, anyway, the craftsmanship on this example is notably good - Kudos Gibson! The factory set up is certainly acceptable even to my fussiness, were I picking this bass up and playing it in a store I'd be favorably impressed, a few small adjustments to suit my hands and I'd be happy. Fret ends are dressed nicely and all appear well seated too. So I finally had sometime to really enjoy playing this bass - what a pleasant surprise! Since I'm primarily a pick player I started there, with everything dimed using a .73 Dunlop the bass has a great tone - Think of The Fixx on "Red Sky at Night". The position of the neck pup gives it a nice bass tone without mudiness, while the bridge pup tends to accentuate upper mids. Soloing the pups with a pick left me knowing I'd never just use the bridge pup - too thin, not enough bass, a bit of the neck pup is needed for a useful tone. The neck pup solo'd was a nice surprise with good usable tone and variation based on hand placement, note decay is almost 7ender like, I suspect the set neck may have something to do with that too. Overall with a pick I like this bass a lot. I'm not much of a fingerstyle player, with the band only two songs require it, at home however I make it a point to keep my chops and strength up so I tried the bass seated on a stool with the lower bout on my right leg, it's very comfortable and handles well. I found that backing off the neck pup a little gave a nice tone and again a bit quicker note decay and the neck pup solo'd was again very pleasing, full rounded tone and good variations can be had by shifting your right hand position.

    So what didn't I like? Well, first the mixed black and chrome hardware, I don't know the reasons since the bass could be done all one way or the other as Gibson is doing the chrome TB Plus, or conversly all black. I also think a pickgard would look great too, along with a pup selector switch . For most I think the bass's limitations would be based on it's outward appearance, not it's tonal abilities - it may not look like it belongs at church or country gig, perfect for that Scorpions tribute band tho :p

    Some pics

    Body thickness

    The test rig

    Nice tonal variation from shifting your right hand position

    How you know it's at my house.
  2. Not sure if I'm more disturbed by you having a non-Thunderbird, or by you wearing jeans.
  3. 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

    Well, the bass is visiting for a month or so before going to Germany..........The jeans ;)
  4. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I had an Gibson Explorer back in the 80's (go figure,right) Anyway, I really loved that bass but sold it do to economic reasons. It always played well and at the time my taste in different bass tones was non-existant. If it went to 11 and had some balls it was good. (I know there are a lot of jokes begging to be added to this line, but I'll resist.)I'm glad to see Gibson building this bass again. If I had the extra coin I might give another a run. If nothing else I'm still left with my explorer tatoo.
  5. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    +1! :D

    I like it though. Not sure I need that and my new Les Paul oversized though.

    Sound noticeably different than a stock Thunderbird?
  6. stiles72


    Mar 20, 2009
    Albany IL
    Thanks for the detailed write up Mark! I'm surprised at the 1.5" nut width- I figured it would be wider, more like an Epi bird. I do think it is a bit confused on whether it wants to be chrome or black. I think if I liked the sound of the stock pups, I'd at least add some silver top knobs and maybe some chrome trim rings for the pups.

    Does the neck angle away from the body like a T-bird, or are they pretty much straight or in line with each other?
  7. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Looks cool, though that finish (grayburst?) is uninspiring to me. Should be natural, black, or white. Actually white with gold hardware would be pretty cool.
  8. 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 like the 1.5" nut width too, tho the neck is a bit thicker in cross section than a Gibson 'Bird - I found it comfortable to play, much better for me than the two Epi's I'd tried out some time back. I really think a black or chrome option for the hardware would be nice, as would a PG. And yes, the neck does angle away from the body like a 'Bird.
    @ Baird6869 It is similar to a contemporary 'Bird in tone but pup placement and the set neck give you some differences and notably quicker note decay.
  9. Figas


    Sep 8, 2008
    Is the neck thicker like a 5 string T-Bird? What about sondwise?
  10. starmann

    starmann Flats and Fingers Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2011
    Verrrrrrrrrrrrry Cool......
  11. CDRhom

    CDRhom William Murderface's Bass Tech Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Fort Worth, TX
    Great write up, you answered most of my questions. It's going to look very happy next to my Dethklok Explorer and Thunderbird.
  12. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Just ordered one.

    I am currently in a Gibson phase, I guess!
  13. 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 think you'll like it a lot!
  14. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Must keep repeating................ I play Thunderbirds, I play Thunderbirds,I play Thunderbirds.
  15. attabass


    Mar 20, 2012
    That is awesome. I always liked the silverburst finish on pauls.

    I have an explorer guitar, looks like I'll have to get it a sibling.
  16. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I think so. I have bought very few basses without playing them... But my LPs, previous G3, SG, Money bass, TBirds, etc were all great!

    Now begins the trek from Montana to Canada!

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