Why so many Thunderbirds sold from Japan on ebay?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by S.F.Sorrow, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    I wanted to check prices on Gibson Thunderbirds on ebay and practically every one of them was sold from Japan. Is there a reason for this? I mean, if it was a Roland Space Echo I could understand why but Thunderbirds??? Am I missing something here?
  2. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Big time collectors and retailers; all with deep pockets? Or simply the retailers buy a lot of stock over there at a time? For example I can only find Capri Orange PJ Mustang basses in Japan at the moment. No European retailer has any left in stock, but I can see about eight from various Japanese retailers languishing on Ebay.

    Rickenbacker have made special-run basses purely for the Japanese market. They built a replica of the 1960s RM1999/4001S basses, listed as the 'Shinseido 60th anniversary' model in some places. Apparently this wasn't a 4001V63 bass but a replica closer to '60s specs. Likewise they built special run basses with checkerboard binding!

    Rickenbacker would do the exact same for a US retailer, but evidently no US retailer has the buying power of the big Japanese retailers. If we ever see a Rickenbacker 4005 reissue it will most likely be for a big Japanese retailer, rather than a US or European one.

    A lot of vintage gear has slowly been heading into Japanese bank vaults over the years as well.
    S.F.Sorrow likes this.
  3. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Well that explains it I guess. I was starting to wonder if the Thunderbird had some kind of special place in pop culture over there. I have seen a lot of vintage gear being sold from Japan lately but this Thunderbird thing is absolutely crazy! I stopped counting at 50 but my estimate would be that there's around 70-80 Thunderbirds currently listed on ebay from Japan and around 15-20 from the rest of the world combined! That's just insane!!!
  4. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    The Gibson T-bird is an American R&R icon and Japanese makers (Greco, Burney) have produced copies for years. Japanese players love the T-bird.
  5. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    You might be right. There were 3 videos on Youtube, which I can't find now, of a Japanese bassist simply testing screeds of Thunderbird basses. He went from Epiphone models right through to vintage '60s originals. I think he even showcased some sort of Japanese non-reverse replicas as well. Certainly there seems to be a market for those with the '60s period features.

    Also, loving the user name! S. F. Sorrow is massively overlooked, as are the Pretty Things in general. Ozzy Osbourne definitely learned a few things from watching Phil May, and their transition from R 'n' B to psychedelia is a lot more solid than the Stones (for example). Wally Waller is one of the big reasons I'm all about Mustang basses!
    S.F.Sorrow and Mark76 like this.
  6. GBassNorth

    GBassNorth Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    It's not just TBirds. Do an eBay search for Warwick and then sort from high to low cost. Last time I did that 97 of the first 100 listings were out of Japan. And if you look close you'll find many of those listings are selling the exact same serial number bass, as many as 5 listings from different sellers at different prices for the same bass. In other words, there's a bunch of Japanese brokers out there mucking up ebay with a lot of spam postings.

    One would think ebay would have their act together and require anyone listing an instrument to actually have that instrument in their possession, but not money grubbing ebay. Apparently, anyone can list anything they want, even if they don't own it or have it in their possession. I suppose I could go down to Guitar Center, snap a few photos of their used gear then list it on eBay for a BIN at 20% more. If I find a buyer stupid enough to bite I get to pocket the profit at zero financial risk to me. As long as I put a note on the listing that says the bass is listed for sale locally and I reserve the right to cancel the ebay auction at any time, I'm safe.

    I stopped shopping ebay last year because of this garbage.
    RedVee, Gaolee and TolerancEJ like this.
  7. If you ever get a chance to visit Tokyo, make sure to check out the Ochanomizu area. It's a few city blocks, all music stores. I spent 3 hours going from store to store, checking out everything they had available. I could easily have stayed the entire day but my wife was with me and music doesn't interest her.

    They had more vintage Gibsons and Fenders than I'd ever seen in my life. If you're wondering where they all went, there's a good percentage of them right there.

    I can't read Japanese, so in one of the buildings, I was choosing various elevator floors and ended up at a luthier school and saw a bunch of wild designs. Apparently some graduates of that luthier school have gone on to work for the ESP Custom Shop.

    My favorite shop was Bass Planet (the Bass division of Guitar Planet). It's located at a separate address sort of across the street.
    RedVee, S.F.Sorrow and GBassNorth like this.
  8. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'm going to suggest you don't check out how many Epiphone EB-3s and EB-0s are listed.

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