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Question for Thunderbird owners

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hambone, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. For you guys that play T-birds regularly - Where do you recognize the balance of your instrument to be? I mean does it feel neck heavy requiring a little push down on your right arm or is it fairly balanced as it naturally sits? Could the balance be better? Does the balance on these basses really matter? How would you suggest equalizing the balance if it's too neck heavy?
  2. BassikLee

    BassikLee Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2004
    Deltona, FL
    Owner: Brevard Sound Systems
    I had a '76 for quite a while, a thousand years ago. Nice bass. Neck heavy doesn't begin to describe it. I found I'd end up leaning on the body with my right arm to compensate. Worked fine, except that my left shoulder then had the weight of the bass AND my right arm pressing down on it. As for fixes, I don't know of any that wouldn't involve some sort of strap button extender thing. That'd look odd, and why play a Tbird if not for the look...

  3. Secondhandloser


    Mar 28, 2005
    I moved the front Straplock to behind the neck, and the rear one up a few inches, and that did it for me. And I just left the original buttons on, so I got an even cooler looking bass.
  4. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    While my T-bird is a little neck heavy, but if you use a widish strap with a decent amount of friction (suede is great), I find that I don't even notice the neck heaviness, and it balances just fine. I've gigged with a T-bird as my main axe for 14 years, and it's never bothered me at all, and I found it to be qutie comfortable. But then again, heavy basses don't really bother me.

  5. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    I have an '02 TBird. Neck dive is inherent. I compensate with a good wide strap that's sueded on the contact side to prevent sliding. The strap button is already at the neck heel on the newer ones. I play it high enough so that my right forearm balances against the rear edge of the body - this helps offset the dive without adding undue pressure on my shoulder.
  6. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    My '76 would neck dive like a mutha! I did not want to mar the body with new buttons, so I just dealt with it as best I could. Be careful!
  7. RickC

    RickC Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    For years, I gigged with a non-reverse T-bird. Very neck heavy. I used to run the strap over the top of the bass at upper rear bout; didn't look too cool but kept the bass from diving.

  8. 69'Vette


    Jan 28, 2003
    Cedar Hills, UT
    If you get a chance, check out a Blackbird and note where the straplock placement is. Like mentioned above, if you move them to the neck heel and a couple inches up from center on the butt it helps a lot, as does the wide strap. Thunderbirds from '87 and up will have less dive as well due to a smaller headstock and smaller tuners. I hear you can shave even a few more ounces off the headstock with Hipshot Ultralites. Just make sure you order the correct ones. :D

    I've owned a Thunderbird since 1982 and currently own quite a few. None of the reverse bodied ones neck dive enough to be a problem at all. The non reverse are a little tricky, but even those can be dealt with (though you do have to be a little more careful with them). BTW, my '65 II came brand new with the butt strap button off center (up a couple inches), so obviously they knew that had to be dealt with... Still the coolest bass on the planet.
  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    +1 I am starting to acquire a number of really nice, truly high end basses, but if you were to do a genetic match between me and "my" bass, the results would still come back: Thunderbird! :bassist:
  10. +1000 to 69'Vette, The Tbird is still the coolest bass around.

    On my 92, I moved the strap button right where the neck meets the body and I was ok, Definetly an improvement. With the buttons in the stock positions the dive didnt really bother me, But I could imagine playing a 1-1/2 hour set would wear on me. I'll try moving the other one up a little to see if it makes any more of a difference. Whats up with the getting a new Thunderbird? I heard Gibson is like, Being a bunch of lazy asses with the basses.
  11. Here's the best way of working it out..

    Get your strap and get some extra strong duck (gaffer) tap and just stick the end of the strap in various different positions to find where it balances best, prob is every T-Bird is different so there is no hard and fast rule...

    To remove any stickyness from the gaffer.

    tissue and a few drops of lighter fluid should do the job nicely :)

    hope this helps :)
  12. Hmm, a lot of you guys have moved your front strap button to the neck heel. Where was it before?

    If the front balance point were somehow (through a miracle of science :D ) moved closer to the 12th fret would it throw off how you hold the bass to play? or would it throw it off too much?
  13. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    I saw Pictures of Bootsy Collins using a PINK (yuech) T-bird of which he had placed the neck strap button on the down side of the lower bout of the body, in the same way as he attaches the strap to his star bass.

    That way his Bass is perfectly balanced, but I guess that when letting go of the neck the Bass would flip forward and slam into his kneecaps and THAT hurts.
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    That's where mine was straight from the factory (1991).