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Thoughts on Gibson Thunderbird

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by c2aBassist, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. c2aBassist


    Jun 4, 2012
    Im considering buying a thunderbird for my next bass, problem is, none of the local shops carry one so i can try em out to get a good feel for em. I've played on Ibanez and schecter so far, and I wanna branch out a little. I play a faster, technical metal, www.c2aband.com, if you wanna hear what I play to get an idea. but mainly i need a fast neck and good thick, consistent sound. Thanks for the help!
  2. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    The Thunderbird has a good metal following, and I've heard it described as Ideal for working with most metal guitar tones etc.
    I'm not sure about tone, I've never played a gibson. What I am more sure of is the center of mass. I've only held an epiphone thunderbird but I experianced a major issue with neckdive. If you can live with it - cool. Don't invest in a gibson bass without trying it first, weight and balance are different from other basses, according to owners who swear by them and people who are less than partial to them.

    I'll be willing to give them a try when I improve my left hand technique, but for now any hint of neckdive is too much for me. You can take the chance without playing first but get a money back guarantee, even with gibson resale values.
  3. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I had a TBird for a few years. great rock tone. Neck dive was NOT an issue, despite the bass weighing just over 8 lbs.
  4. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Good to hear. I'd say even if the neck dive is only an issue on some basses with that bodystyle, and even then only a problem for some players... The OP should still try one.
    Gibson is also generally criticized for QC issues, another excellent reason to try the exact bass before paying.

    A lot of people say the Tbird, and Les Paul basses need to be heard & played to be evaluated. Much like any bass I guess. The neck on the Epiphone I held was as compact as a jazz, however I expect a Gibson, while having similar nut width, would have a different finish, profile, and feel.
    I'd suspect the body shape would need to be evaluated by the player too, it's far from Dano Longhorn for upper fret access (at least on the reverse body models).
  5. CraigTB


    Feb 16, 2012
    For me any bass without an upper horn means it hangs from the strap a little funny - where the whole bass is shifted a little in the direction of the headstock (so if you're righty, the bass is shifted left). This makes it more of a reach to play in the lower positions.

    This might bother you, it might not. I've never had problems with neck dive (thick strap? technique? beats me), but the reach for first position can be a pain.
  6. Duke21


    Nov 14, 2010
    Narvik, Norway
    Will "never" buy one... a bit too strange for me. But it is a classical bass and I like its tone on many recordings. Kings Of Leon jump into my mind.
    Well, said never buy it... if I had money to spare, I might buy one.
  7. nubs


    Mar 1, 2005
    thunderbirds are sweet, great basses, i suggest getting one of these


    throw a set of thunderbuckers in it and never look back!

    Cataldo Basses are awesome! built by TBer Dadagoboi even, Carlo is a phonomenal builder and a super guy!
  8. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Recently converted T-bird owner here - I have an '06 I picked up a few weeks ago, that even though I didn't think I was going to keep it, the deal was way too good to turn down... Funny thing is, it's grown on me enough that I'm definitely keeping it - and an added plus is that my bandmates love it, and our fans have really dug it, too...

    Neck dive is not an issue at all for me - mine is nice and light, *maybe* only 8lbs, but doesn't neck dive at all... It *does* slightly fall away from the body due to the one strap post being on the heel of the neck, but it was easy to get used to, and now it doesn't bather me in the least... The neck is nice and fast, and feels alot like a Jazz neck...

    I could picture it's tone working well for metal - it works well for my modern rock/rock/metal band... A couple of things, though: upper fret access is terrible - if you frequently play up to the 20th fret, it might not be the bass for you... Also, Gibson's QC is horrible - check it out carefully before you buy... That being said, my '06 is very well made, with excellent fretwork and a very nice neck:




  9. stiles72


    Mar 20, 2009
    Albany IL
    The Gibson and Epiphone (bolt on IV) are totally different animals. The Epi is built more like a P-bass, and feels more like a P-bass. The Gibson is lighter weight, has a slick 1.5" nut, and the angled neck through design makes the bass "wrap" around you more than a slab body. I play both a T-bird and a Fender '62 RI P-bass in an oldies band, and the Tbird wins every time.
  10. Asylum-49


    Jan 7, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    What are everbodies thoughts (especially the southpaws) of the rumoured news that Gibson are doing a run of new lefty instruments next year, including the Thunderbird IV?
  11. I love my 2011 Gibson Thunderbird IV.

    It has a really fast neck, is deceptively lightweight, doesn't have the neck-dive issues that seem to have become 'folklore' and the powerful mid tones cut through the mix well.

    Love it so much I'm getting another for Christmas :)
  12. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    I've played T-Birds. If you wear them Low, like a good Metal bassist should, neck dive is controlable. My issue was the tone. Kind of muddy, kind of one tone. I have a '92 Les Paul Standard, that is for all intents & purposes a T-Bird, only shaped like a Les Paul! Passive T-bird pickups, Vol/Vol/Tone controls, made of mahogany, Slab body, and even has Neck Dive! I added the Bartolini replacement pickups with Series/SingleCoil/Parallel switches for each pickup, and this Baby came to LIFE!
  13. aquateen


    Apr 14, 2005
    I dig the LP bass with TB+ pickups. I guess it's a matter of personal taste
  14. I love my Gibson (2012, Flying V) it has the T-bird pick ups and I would agree that they are pretty much one tone but that one tone kicks ass and suits classic rock/metal perfectly. I have had no QC issues and question how much of this is people reporting what they have heard and vs. actual experience. My Gibson just seems so much cooler than my Fender Am Sp. Jazz. Never underestimate the power behind "feeling cool" and how much it can improve the way you actually play.
    Session1969 likes this.
  15. They're great basses IMO but are not for everyone. I've got both the Gibson and the Epiphone T-bird. Love 'em both, but for the money you can't beat the $300 Epiphone. I upgraded the bridge on the Epi with a Hipshot Trans Tone. This helped improve the setup a bit. I would recommend trying both basses before buying one, as the Gibson is a bit pricey at least for my budget. Good luck!
  16. 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


    Thunderbirds rule!

    Session1969 and Lenny like this.
  17. KrisHayes


    Sep 30, 2012
    Head-stock heavy, insanely thick neck, pretty boomy tone. Not my cup of tea, but they definitely have a really unique sound.
  18. klejst


    Oct 5, 2010
    A little while back I was considering a T-Bird myself, however I ended up sticking with another Fender P. I still would not mind owning one though amongst the many P's I have owned.
  19. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    Have you ever actually played a Gibson Thunderbird??? - I ask because it doesn't seem like it, based on your post...

    - georgestrings
  20. 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

    You beat me to it George!