Tacoma Thunderchief 5-string-Comments???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BartmanPDX, May 27, 2005.

  1. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I've been gassing for an ABG for months now, and having played a goodly number of them, have decided to hold out for a Tacoma. The Olympia basses just didn't measure up, and while the Michael Kelly Solid ABG I played was much more impressive than the laminated ones, and a pretty good deal, I've got my heart set on a Tacoma.

    I'm in the process of switching over to playing five strings, and I'm really curious about the Tacoma Thunderchief 5-string. I haven't had a chance to play one, so here are some questions for anyone who has knowledge of this bass.

    It seems to be 34" scale, from what I've read, and I'm worried that the B string might not be tight enough -- anyone have any comments on this?

    It also looks from the pictures I've seen that the string spacing on the five is really tight -- like they've just put five strings on the same neck as the four-string model. Is the string spacing too narrow?

    I'm worried that the string tension from a 5-string might be too much for the neck over time. Some people have reported neck problems with ABGs after a few years. Has anyone heard anything about the situation with Tacomas?

    I've also heard a rumor that Tacoma no longer makes the 5-string now that they've been bought out by Fender, and I've also heard that the quality has dropped as well. Any truth to these rumors, or is this just sorrow that another company has fallen to the Fender Goliath?

    Finally, there are two main pickup options -- the Fishman Active Prefix Plus and the Baggs pickup. I've heard the Baggs has a better tone, but is far more prone to feedback. I won't be gigging with this bass (I'm not in a band), so is this a concern? I've played a Tacoma with the Fishman, and it had a really nice tone, but lately I've seen mostly ones with the Baggs pickup for sale on the web.

    I'd like to hold out for the five string model, if it has a solid B string and the neck holds up well, but it seems like it's a hard thing to find anywhere. I may have to "settle" for a 4-string, since they're so much more widely available, but I really don't want to regret not getting a 5-string later if it's something great. I'm going to keep whatever I get for a long time.

    Any and all comments are greatly appreciated!!!

    P.S. I darn near pulled the trigger on a new Thunderchief 5-string with a Baggs pickup that was on ebay about 2-3 weeks ago. It sold for $860, and now I'm totally kicking myself. :(
  2. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I own a Tacoma CB10F and have played a few examples of both the 4 and 5 string versions. I don't think that there is any real reason to worry about the structural integrity of these basses. They aren't built like an Earthwood or a Martin, where there is a lot of dreadnaught-style structure. They use a bolt-on neck, and it feels a lot like a Fender neck. I don't think that I would use heavy gauge strings on any ABG, but the were coming stock with Elixer Bronzes at one time and they weren't very low tension.

    I don't think that any changes have taken place at the Tacoma factory since the Fender buyout, except that they may be making other Fender models and less Tacoma models.

    As for the string spacing, they definitely do not use the 4 string neck for the 5er. The string spacing isn't huge, but it isn't cramped either. I'd compare it to a Fender 5 more than a really narrow 5 like an Ibanez. This is really not a drawbck on a bass that will be played fingerstyle... It isn't like you need this huge wide spacing for slapping.

    I didn't feel that the B on the 5er was floppy, but you have to have realistic expectations of what a low B on an ABG will do. Even at 35" scale the ABG is limited in reproducing a fundamental that low.

    Good Luck, these are really nice basses that don't require more than the usual maintenance to last a long time. I'm at 4+ years on my CB10F and it still sings like a bird.
  3. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I've had my CB-10 for three or four years now, and love it to pieces. That said, I have been considering selling it off to get a five string version.

    Mine came with no pickup at all, and I installed a K&K Pure system from Bob Gollihur. Very sweet tone! I've run Labella black tapes since it was new.

    I'll be very interested to hear your comments about the CB-105 if you find one to demo - I've been looking for one to try, too.
  4. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    Can you order one with no pickup or electronics? How much did it cost with no pu?
  5. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Mine was from MF scratch and dent because it had a damaged case (since replaced) - I think it was around $675, with full price being around $850 at the time.

    I want to say the CB-10 is the pure acoustic, and the CB-10E models are the ones with pickups.
  6. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Thanks so much for your comments. You've been really helpful.

    Has anyone tried the Baggs vs. the Fishman pickup?? I know the Fishman takes a battery, but from the pictures, it doesn't look like the Baggs does. I've also heard complaints about the Baggs pickup having too much feedback, and I haven't heard that about the Fishman. Some people have written that they like the tone of the Baggs better, tho.

    I'm STRONGLY tempted now to hold out for a 5-string.

    If only I could control my GAS!!! :D
  7. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Hold out for the bass that you want to play. You will save money in the long run.

    The Model numbers had/have these suffixes like the Fishman was the E3, and the Baggs was the E2, IIRC. I'd try to buy one with no transducer so I didn't have that big hole in the side.

    My bass came with the Fishman and all of the units that i have seen sold via GC or MF have been Baggs equipped. I believe that the Baggs uses a battery but doesn't have the pop-up preamp feature. It certainly ins't a passive EQ and it doesn't use phantom power, so there aren't many other options :ninja: I've played both and I have to say that I don't think that the preamps is the problem, it is the undersaddle transducer. Both preamps sounded kinda craptastic to me. I removed mine and put in a K&K Pure Bass/Tenor 2-puck unit and use either an external K&K beltclip preamp, or run direct to the super-hi Z input on my Clarus. It sounds way better than any other system I have heard.

    You will have feedback issues when trying to play at higher volumes regardless of the preamp/transducer combo. You don't get to turn a soundboard that big into a giant resonant piezo diaphram and get no feedback. A notch filter can help but it will sound pretty bad, so you can have good sound at low levels or not so good sound at high levels.
  8. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Good advice, but since I will not be using this to gig, (I'm not in a band, nor will I play live, for family/medical reasons), will the feedback issue be much of a concern when I plug in through my bass rig at home? :confused:
  9. joninjapan


    Aug 13, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    I am the proud owner of a CB-105 E4 Fretless, getting the bass was a two year process, but worth it. I almost immediately replaced the factory strings with Thomastik Infield Jazz flats. I use the bass live and for practice, (the neighbors are very close in Japan :ninja: )

    The E4 preamp has a notch filter that eliminates feedback quickly... if you can't get the E4 a Baggs paracoustic DI will help, actually it is the best addition to this bass... a go anywhere solution to a number of potential problems.

    Get a Tacoma.
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Yes, I have. I own the Fishman equipped one.
  11. G


    Apr 12, 2000
    I own a 5 string fretless with the fishman. No problems with feed back at all... Currently strung E-C and it sounds fantastic. THe B was fine, but chords are amazing on this bass. No neck problems to speak of, and i live in MI.

    (And it might be for sale...)