1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Thunderbirds: new vs old, gibson vs epiphone

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by beebassdude, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    Sterling, VA
    so im looking at getting a 4 string thunderbird and obviously there are a ton of different models/years/sounds and i wanted some opinions on each one. i play detuned sludge/stoner metal kinda stuff and id like to know which would be my best bet for that "huge" sound. is it worth the money to try and snag a 70s one? would i really notice the difference between and epi and a gibson? do the 90s models sound different than the current models?

    any info would be helpful, i need to start hunting soon!
  2. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    Old Gibson's are cool, if you can find one.
    Never liked the Epiphone.
    Mike Lull is making a Thunderbird now, which is the bomb. ($$$$)
  3. your idol

    your idol

    Oct 13, 2008
    Murfreesboro TN
    although he will probably naturally respond to this shortly but the wisdom of Tbird1958 is what you seek. pretty much the authority on all things Thunderbird including other brands than gibson. he will tell you who has the quality build and components and the downfalls of each (because he owns or has owned em all)
  4. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    Sterling, VA
    i actually looked at some of his/her (??) posts and didnt really find the answers i was looking for. if they see this thread hopefully they can do a little breakdown of the info im looking for.
  5. your idol

    your idol

    Oct 13, 2008
    Murfreesboro TN
    ask directly. just because its not posted dosent mean he dosent know. i have gotten a TON of comparative info that was super useful via PM vs just reading the sweeping generalizations used for forum talk. im telling you what ever you want to know he typically knows
  6. Rob Martinez

    Rob Martinez

    Sep 14, 2005
    Old Gibson T-bird (1960s) are supposed to be amazing, but are hard to find and expensive.

    I have read that the 1970s versions are pretty good. Not as expensive, but can be pricey, and hard to find.

    New T-birds are great basses for about $1500 new. T-bird Studio basses are also great, but out of production.

    The Epi T-bird is supposed to be great for the money, but different for the Gibsons.
    Don't forget the new Epi Pro series of T-birds that have active electronics and neck thru design.

    Really depends on your budget and tonal needs. I suspect any of these would work for your music given the right amp and settings.

    Or get one of the Goth T-birds!!:bassist:
  7. Rob Martinez

    Rob Martinez

    Sep 14, 2005
  8. the epi t-birds are terrible compared to the real deal.
  9. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    Sterling, VA

    this is the kinda stuff im looking for. what is so bad about the epi ones compared to the gibson ones? could you give me some specifics as to what the difference in sound is?
  10. LBronson


    Dec 31, 2008
    I own a 2007 gibson T-bird. the epi's felt a little off to me. The sound was not as clear but for the money a good deal, just not a great deal. I do think the new ones are great and would not hesitate to buy one again. I did take it to my favorite set up guy and have him adjust it and change strings but I have done this with every bass I bought. I did not have much of a chance to try a vintage one so I can't comment on that. I play a lot of rock and love the bottom end thumpof Gibsons, I own a Les Paul bass too. Hope this helps
  11. all the epi's i've played had a muddy tone to'em, much flatter than the punch out of a gibson. the neck didn't play that well either, seemed a bit dry and restrictive (nothing a good setup and polish couldn't fix but it just feels like a slower neck)

    the production and finish on them just feels cheap. even a possibly broken (horribly maladjusted or damaged truss) gibson i played felt and sounded leagues better
  12. your idol

    your idol

    Oct 13, 2008
    Murfreesboro TN
    the finish certainly leaves plenty to be desired. to me tbrid at bare minimum needs to be set neck or neck through, i think its a major appeal to the bass. its hard to describe but in the hands it just doesnt feel like a winner.

    Greco makes a pretty killer T bird that can sometimes be had in the same ballpark as a new epi. much more solid bass
  13. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    Sterling, VA
    anyone know the current market price for a 76-79 Tbird? just a broad range, and im not looking for a mint one (id love to find a beat up one).
  14. your idol

    your idol

    Oct 13, 2008
    Murfreesboro TN

    variable on the condition (watch for headstocks snapped off and repaired, double check the work if you find one) and the position of the moon and the wind and whos been seen playing one recently.
  15. your idol

    your idol

    Oct 13, 2008
    Murfreesboro TN
    keep in mind the 76s are the bicentenials and usually slightly more sought after
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I have a T-bird studio 5. Deep, dark, great action and no neck dive. :)
  17. oerk


    Oct 16, 2009
    The pickups are really muddy with no high end at all. They'd fit for classic rock, though.

    Don't like the feel of the neck, and I'm much slower with my right hand than on other basses. Don't know why.

    The massive neckdive is easily fixed - just put a new strap holder into the neck pocket.

    Take all this with a grain of salt, because I've never played a Gibson.
  18. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    Sterling, VA

    are the necks on the 70s one pretty crappy? im looking to put really big strings on it and i wouldnt wanna screw the neck up. any idea if the older necks could support low B strings in the 120-130 gauge range?
  19. 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
    Big, big question!

    Gibson first:

    Any '60s bird is gonna be expensive, hard to find and not likely something you'd take to a sludge/metal show - However they are pretty much the Holy Grail as T Birds go.
    My persoanl faves are Bicentennials (76 - 79) I have 3. Love the old school big headstock and tuners, different pickups than '60s and sometimes spotty QC makes these a hit or miss bass. I gig with these most often, the neck is similar to Jazz bass maybe slightly smaller, very comfy for my smallish hands.
    Post '88 - 2010 modern Birds have a smaller headstock and tuners and thru their production have had 3 different phases of pickups, 1 split coil design and 2 variations of humbuckers. This particular variation detunes well ansd with some work at your amp's EQ section you'll likely find what you're looking for with one of these. They have a slightly more rounded profile neck, again a good fit for my smaller hands, and if you really seek a more "retro sound they are great candidates for replacement pickups, especially those made by Mike Lull.
    For what you want to play I'd consider one of these, as they can be had used for a reasonable price.
    All of these variation feature a multi ply neck thru construction that will give you lots of sustain, the older ones are very warm and growly and when played with a pick for rock they are great basses - again I love '76s for this.
    Gibson also made "Studio" models for a short time. Available in 4 and 5 string models, they feature set neck construction and will give a darker, tighter more modern tone. Again I'd recommend one of these very highly, I've played several and really liked them, there's a fiver on my GAS list!
    The Nikki Sixx models are also interesting variations, I've owned both tho currently just the newer Mk.II. These had very simple controls (or none!) less wire = hooter signal and the Mk.II has Maple wings which give it a very dark, tight modern tone.
    I also have 2 Ho's, a '77 Greco Thunderbird II which if you can find, I highly recommend, great quality and very hot pickups with set neck construction - way better than any Epi!
    I also have an Orville, which is Gibson Japan, rare here, but again very nice QC set neck bass, the pickups are very well balanced and even sounding - very nice.
    I've owned 2 Standard Epi's one I flipped, and another I rebuilt into a Fenderbird, with new pups, rewire and a a lefty J neck. Personally I found the standard version's neck to be too big for my tastes and that was the principle reason for selling or modding. Only my .02 here, but these don't really cop the tone of a real T Bird, they just can't as none of the elements required are present. But that's not saying anything bad as Epi's have their own unique voice, darker and thumpy which is good in it's own right.
    I do have several other 'Birds but I'll omit them as they really wouldn't fit the O.P.'s purpose/question, there are however many more 'Birds out there - ESP, Tokai., G.M.P., Epi Pro, Jackson, Hamer, Ibanez and Mike Lull have all made Thunderbirds too.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Dec 1, 2020

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.