Strings for Gibson Thunderbird

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by green3101, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. green3101


    Aug 31, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    As the title suggests, just wanted to hear people’s thoughts/experiences on different strings on a Thunderbird.

    I recently picked one up, a 2008 model that was strong with EB slinky’s 45-105 which were fine but they were pretty dead and needed changing. I slapped a set of Diaddario Prosteels 45-105s on but so far I’m not really digging them, they seem a bit to mid scooped maybe? They sound fine on my USA 2013 Jazz but they just don’t seem to work on the T-Bird. I’m also not a fan of the gauge and will be returning to a lighter gauge as I prefer the lower tension. Plus my hands are small and it suits me better amongst other things. I sometimes tune down a bit for the odd song or two, but mostly play in standard.

    I play rock almost exclusively. I use both a pick and fingers. Looking for a good cutting edge rock tone but not ultra-scooped. Strings need to be bright to cut through.

    Would you recommend steel or nickel for this bass? I’ve heard good things about Dunlop Super Brights. I’m just not sure if they will work with the T-Bird?

    I have a set of Rotosound Swingbass 66 40-100 that I’m thinking of using. What are these like on a T-Bird? Bit worried about the tension, the roughness and if they will damage my frets? (I play with low action). These seem to be the go to strings for a lot of my favourite bassists though.

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

  2. Kriegs


    Feb 14, 2018
  3. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    I'd go with stainless steel. I like GHS Super Steels and La Bella RX steels. But really only your ears can tell you what works on the instrument.
  4. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    '13 T-Bird.jpg I have 2 of them; a black '18, and this '13. It came from the factory with real Gibson strings; and while I'm not much of a round wound fan, I really liked those. Gibson stopped making bass strings, so I had to find something else. The best replacement I've found so far are the 45-105 hex core GHS Bass Boomers (#GHS 3040). Those Boomers also seem pretty popular with many of my fellow Thunderbird Club members. However, you can find people there who have just about any kind of string you can think of on their 'Bird. As for my black '18? I'm still experimenting; It will probably wind up with Flats of some kind... Actually, I don't recall anyone mentioning having TI's on their 'Bird; and, I have an extra set of them around the music room somewhere...:eyebrow::eyebrow:

    edit: Rotos? Try them and see. You might not care for the tension, and yeah, they are fairly rough. I wouldn't worry about excessive fret damage, though - unless you fret like a pair of Vice-Grips. Roto 66s' bad rep came from waaay back in the day, when bass strings were all flats, and frets were small and soft. You should be fine...
    Steel (stainless, I assume) or nickel? Personally, if I have to use rounds, I prefer nickel if possible. I like the feel, and they're generally not quite so bright and twangy...:thumbsup:
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
  5. I have GHS Pressurewounds on my T-Bird and it sounds great Good highs without too much zing and good mids and lows.
    michael_t likes this.
  6. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Roto stainless steel 66 is THE sound of a Thunderbird for me! Try them. They have a slightly rougher surface than most strings but they're not THAT rough. If you play bass regularly your fingers will handle Roto just fine. They may feel a bit unusual at first, kinda sticky, but you'll get used to them.

    But it sounds like you should probably get 45-105.

    As for fret wear, sure they will wear out your frets faster than nickel strings but that would happen with any stainless steel strings. Personally I think steel is the way to go with T-birds, and I normally prefer PURE nickel (not plated) for roundwounds. It's not like fret wear is gonna happen over night. If you play a lot you may have to factor in the cost of a fret job or two FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. That's a small price to pay if you find YOUR tone with steel.
  7. jamersonburton


    Jul 22, 2011
    I use rotosound rs66ld 45-105 (with the 80 A) on my thunderbird. It's an epiphone classic IV pro (alpine white) and I believe it has gibson pickups and gibson specs in general. I started off with ernie ball slinkys on it and while it was nice, I feel as though the roto's belong on it. Have recently considered going back to nickel plated for both the thunderbird and my p/j fender but at the end of the day I know that the roto stainless steels sound 100% fine on it. They growl and thump at the same time on the thunderbird. Try it. I've used that combo for blues, hard rock, punk, reggae, and jazz, and I'm always happy with the tone.
  8. Jonithen


    Dec 3, 2012
    Seacoast NH
    I just put Rotosound 66 LF on mine. Another forums poster clued me in to the slightly bigger A string years back on a jazz bass, and I've come to realize the guy was on to something.

    I understand being preoccupied with the idea of fret wear.

    I'm over it. I will play it till it needs to be dressed, then play it till they need to be replaced, and then decide to either get stainless steel installed or go epoxied fretless.