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Thumb/Corvette Playability

Discussion in 'Warwick Basses' started by Selios, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Hey everyone,

    This is my first time posting the Warwick sub-forum! I'm looking to make a transition away from Fender-style basses because their large bodies are not ideal for me (a small guy) to play.

    I really love the super-small body of the Thumb, but I've noticed that the center of the bass while standing is obviously very different from that of a Fender/Music Man. It looks like there's a lot more neck on a Thumb to compensate even though it remains a 34" scale. Can anyone comment on how difficult it is to reach the first fret on a Thumb? I like to wear my strap somewhere at the mid-to-low range.

    Is it any easier to play a Corvette? The downside there for me is that the body is a bit larger. As an added note, what are everyone's opinions toward thick straps stopping the Thumb neck-dive? I've heard that it can be completely cured from some people, while others insist that it really is a bad case of neck-dive...

  2. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    I have both basses and for me I feel the accessibility of the upper register of the neck is easier on my Thumbs. The cut into the body is deep on the treble side but more than that the body is more contoured and rounded and less thick right there where the neck meets the body on the Thumb. Where a bass sits around my neck and falls also plays a big role. The center of gravity is different on both basses. Although both standard scale lengths are 34” stock the Thumb sits very differently on me the body is smaller but heavier and the body sort of sits right under me so the neck naturally is out further away but in a good way. It’s like when I look down on my Thumbs I find myself having them a little higher around me and then I’m using more of the upper finger positions and playing differently than on any other bass. It’s an acquired instrument to grasp and fall in love with.

    Every bass is different and can balance differently. Wood is different tree to tree and can vary greatly in the density from the top of the tree to the bottom. I have owned 2 bolt on 5 string Thumbs and now I currently own 2 neck through. One is a 95 the fretted and the other a 93 but the fretted balances better just vary from bass to bass. For me on almost all my Warwicks I change out the turners to Hipshot Ultralites and my scale indicated on a 5 string 7.5 Oz less weight on the headstock when the standard tunes are switched to UL. That’s almost a half-pound and it takes a lot of the weight off and compensates a good bit if it’s a diver there is not a whole lot more to be done. I do use a Moody 4” strap that’s sued inside the strap to help grab but make no mistake that doesn’t stop neck dive it can help or if you’re wearing a loose light t-shirt it can also make the back of your shirt ride up over your shoulder and the neck pocket go to the middle of your chest. Play the Thumb you intend on buying if you can. I love mine they in my opinion have the most unique different tone of my stable very woody and mid focused and can cut through the mix of heavy guitars like a chainsaw or treble rolled off can sit in any mix and can sound round and warm. The definition of a low B string on a Thumb will just drop your jaw it’s so thunderous and loud but defined and not muddy great basses either one I couldn’t decide so I have both.

    The Thumb is a Warwick icon and if I ever had the money to order a custom shop one I would pitch an idea I have had a long time for a custom Thumb. Like a broad neck gives bassers the 19-20 mm spacing I want a “long horn” Thumb where the upper horn is bigger and extends out 2-3” more so the Thumb would sit a little more ergonomically like the rest of my Warwick brood just an idea but I think I would love it.
  3. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I've owned two Thumbs and a Streamer Stage 1. They all play "long". That is, they felt to me more like 35" scale basses than 34". There's a big difference between how far you have to reach to get to the low F on the Warwicks vs how far you have to reach on a Fender-style instrument. A lot of the 35" basses I've played feel shorter in the neck than Warwicks, in fact. As for neck dive - some Thumbs are worse than others, but the design does lend itself to neck dive (that's the 80s for you: fashion before function :D). The first Thumb I bought was a 5 string BO. I made the mistake of buying it without strapping it on first. After a two hour drive back from the shop I realised the error of my ways. That bass went back the next morning (I exchanged it for a Thumb 4 BO). My other Thumb was a neck-through 5 and I used a thicker strap with that to help combat the neck dive. It did help a bit but the neck did still dive a little. The thing was, by the time I bought the NT I was already used to my Thumb 4 BO and the way the neck would sit perpendicular when strapped on (as opposed to the Streamer, which would sit however I placed it). So while the smaller bodies of the Thumbs might appeal to you, I would suggest checking the basses out thoroughly to be sure that they suit you in other respects. Keep in mind that some companies (Lull and Sadowsky, for example) offer smaller bodies on some of their basses. I'm not sure what your budget is but you might consider them as possible options. If you're set on a Warwick then I'd consider a Streamer. The bodies themselves aren't that much bigger than a Thumb if you exclude the horns and you'll have a much better balanced bass. Having said that, I did get used to playing my Thumb BO (the thing that actually bugged me most was the thick neck - and the fact that I was always cranking the bass control trying to get more bottom out of the thing) though I'm not sure I'd ever want to go back to such a design now.
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    My completely unprofessional, subjective opinion about the ergonomics of the Thumb is along the same lines as bass12 and Mean2nEnd. The are weighted a little funny, tend to neck dive, and the 5 string is even more awkward than the 4. When I tried a 5 I immediate had a problem of where to put my thumb while playing with my fingers. I tend to rest it on the neck pickup, but for all intents and purposes, the Thumb 5 doesn't really have a neck pickup, but two bridge pickups. This made it very hard to play.

    The Corvette is a totally different animal physically and tone wise. It still has the big old Warwick neck and the "longer" feeling, but is a little more easy to deal with. The standard J style Corvette is also a little vanilla sounding.

    If you want the sound of a Thumb you can only get it from a Thumb. If you want it bad enough you will learn to deal with the peculiarities of the bass. Its obviously not unplayable or it wouldn't be so popular. If you aren't after that sound, the Corvette may be more your cup of tea.
  5. Thanks a lot guys. My only knowledge of a Thumb comes from videos and pictures of others playing them and some folks make it look easy while others make it look very awkward. Although along with you guys, I have noticed that the 5 string appears to be a lot more awkward than the 4. (Good thing I'm looking for a 4!)

    I'm still not sure what to say! My own technique, even when playing Fenders, involves me shifting the center of the bass to my right a bit and picking/plucking close to the neck. Maybe continuing with that would help me to not notice the "longer" scale of the Thumb, but I can't find one to play and I would probably have to get one from eBay!

    Anyway, I appreciate your responses!
  6. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    What is your attraction to the thumb, what type of music are you playing, and how do you play (pick, finger, slap)?
  7. Jimmy74


    Nov 21, 2010
    My take on the positioning of the thumb:

    The short horn makes the 1st - 5th frets further away from you, BUT, the 12th - 26th frets are at your reach when you look down!

    If you are into more finger style, always playing at the higher registers, the thumb's for you. Thick mid all day long.

    Slap style - streamer and corvette all da way.
  8. The attraction comes from the smaller body and overall aesthetics combined with the very appealing features that all Warwicks have (nice bridge, easy access electronics/battery compartment, MEC pickups, adjustable nut, 2+2 headstock on the 4 stringers, etc.)

    I play a range of music from hard rock/metal down to folk, blues, country, soul, and I sit in for a local worship group only when they need me. This is with a roughly 50/50 fingers and pick style split (I only slap when I'm practicing and in that kind of mood).

    Obviously for this range of music styles I appreciate the versatility of the Thumb, with its two pickups and active EQ.
  9. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Hmm...the small and compact body of the Thumb is pretty neat, just keep in mind that a lot of the ergo issues we've mentioned are due to that. While the Thumb has a great unique tone, I don't know if I'd all it versatile. Its a highly specialized jazz bass. Now the regular Corvette is a regular old jazz bass, which might be a touch more flexible for you. I personally think the sound is more transparent, meaning it doesn't demand as much attention in the mix as the Thumb does. The $$ Corvette is pretty flexible tone wise.
    If you can find a Streamer LX you may like the ergonomics and tonal flexibility of that bass as well.
  10. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    I went from a USA Fender Precision to a Corvette Standard because I wanted a smaller, lighter body. My 4-string Corvette Standard (ash) was significantly lighter than my 4-string USA P Bass. The body is definitely smaller & looked less awkward on me than the P. Playability is good for Herrick. I'm 5'8" at around 165 lbs with average (or perhaps slightly longer) limbs & fingers. Hope this helps!
  11. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    I have a Corvette standard coming this week! I can't wait to get my hands on it!