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Gibson Thunderbird -- everytime I see one,


dmt

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(like on some rock band's DVD), I get excited. They just look like "Rock" to me. But, I've never even held one on my hands.

 

I play a P (having migrated there from a Jazz), but lately I can't stop thinking about the Thunderbird. Pretty damn expensive, though (my P is MIM). I'm becoming ever more sure that one day I will own one though, if only to see if it really is the bass for me.

 

Opinions from thouse who have tried them? Especially, any comparisons to P's or J's would be interesting. Any thoughts on amps related to those?

 

Style: Classic Rock

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I've never played one and only heard one being played in person on a couple of occasions. Both times I've heard them live I have absolutely loved the tone. They sound big, clear and punchy.

 

A buddy of mine who used to perform with a major label country group had one for a few gigs on loan from Gibson. He really loved the sound & playability but couldn't get used to the feel of the instrument (IE. body shape). Even though it played & sounded great, he ended up going back to a P-Bass because he was more comfortable with it.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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My V-Bass will do a variety of cabs and heads well, also. I can tell you from experience with actual as well as virtual rigs, however, that there is no ONE SUPERIOR COMBINATION for use with a tbird. Different people will have different opinions and different experiences (or lack thereof, but still harboring biases founded on that limited experience).

 

What DO YOU want the Tbird amp combination to be? Choose rig accordingly.

.
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You had to ask. I was the 2nd owner of a 1976 vintage Thunderbird IV. Sold it a few years ago to cover legal fees for a work-related case where I was about to lose my job. So I kept my job and my pension, but part of the price was the bass and a few other vintage pieces.

 

Simply one of the best and visually exciting 4-strings I ever owned. You had to have "the look" to play that thang, no sense walking onstage with a bass like that looking like you just stole it from some music store. Sound was pure vintage; a one-trick pony, but it cut through guitars without breaking a sweat. And I had the pleasure once playing it through an Ampeg SVT.

 

The reissues: Epiphone feels and plays like an import, Gibson still makes them just like Gibson used to make them, but there's something about holding a piece of wood that's older than most of the MTV generation and passive pickups that have had the time to season in well. If I had an extra $1,500 lying around I'd consider getting another one, but then I'd have to keep it for at least 10 years to let it age in properly. There IS a difference in how an instrument sounds as it ages, trust me, even though I can't express that in technobabble.

 

That's enough from me.

:wave:

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Originally posted by greenboy:

Who needs to wait ten years...

Let us not forget Fender's Custom Shop 'relic' instruments with carefully distressed finishes.

 

Or you could lend it to me and watch me trip over it, stand on it, knock it over and (this was an exceptional case) watch a large cast iron weight vibrate off the top of one of my hi-fi speakers (it was anchoring it to the spikes on the stand) and bounce off my Warwick on the way to the floor. Adds years in days.

 

Back on topic, I need to try some T-Birds - there's a certain cabinet addict on talkbass (25+ nice cabs including just about every EA cab ever built!) whose main bass is a '91 T-Bird. It must be pretty special to have remained the lone 4-string (electric) bass in a home bursting at the seams with EA, Acme, Mesa, Accugroove, Epifani, etc. cabs!

 

Alex

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Well, playing in an instrument is more about extended period vibrations traveling though the wood and not the music world equivalent of stone washing or bleching jeans ; }

 

It's very easy to see why someone would have a big love for the tbird - or any other less-seen instrument. Their sonic signatures are not ubiquitous. Just about everybody using old school axes or emulating some aspects of them is doing J, or P. Lot less Gibson-type stuff (Rippers, EB series long and short, f-hole hollowbody), lots less Rick or Gretsch or Hagstrom... There are a lot of good sounds in those basses! Less generic in the context we are talking here. And their profiles may also seem fresh after seeing so many Fenderesque designs.

.
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I'm a guitar player. I 'get it' about the looks fo the Thunderbird, but it is not the best sounding bass (to this guitar player's ears...) on the planet.

 

I've got an original 60s vintage Firebird 12 string. Got that Firebird look, with a headstock toughly the size of a Viking's oar. Sounds -cool- too, but not anything like a Rick, Fender, or Gibson 335 12 string with which we are all familiar.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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T-Bird basses... well...

 

When I was shopping for basses a few years ago, I played a lot of different instruments. I knew I wanted something that sounded chunky and old-school... So I narrowed my search down to more traditional basses by Fender and Gibson.

 

I messed with Fender Jazz basses... They sounded cool.. but too plinky and persnickety for my taste. Too many damn knobs, too.

 

I played some Gibson EB basses. Just a little too thunky and woody-sounding for my taste. I like a little "clank," ya know?

 

I also played a few Thunderbirds. I have to say that I really liked those. They look SO rock... and they definitely have "bawls." But... eh.. none of them really sat in my hands the right way or spoke to me.

 

I wound up loving a P-bass. Classic, old-school look. Two knobs, no waiting. One pick-up. Fun neck. Big balls with a lovely clank on the top end...

 

So.. I came really close to buying a T-Bird... but I went with a P-Bass instead.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Originally posted by Dr. Zarkov:

Joey Lauricella (Fodera's partner) and Anthony Jackson mentioned the shake theory of vibration making wood more "musical". Interesting.

 

Tom

"shake theory..."

"vibration..."

"making wood more 'musical'."

 

Gotta agree. Synths and modeling can duplicate the sound, but its the wood that talks back to us in subbliminal ways. I've always needed vibrating wood to get my "uncontrolled sustain/feeback" effects.

 

(why are my palms suddenly sweaty?) :D

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Well that's where I am -- I had a jazz, but it was too plinky and persnickety and stuff. Actually, it played like butter, but it just didn't have as deep a tone as I wanted.

 

I migrated to the mighty P.

 

But ya know what? Now that I have it, while it sounds mighty enough, it looks, well... well, kinda corn pone to me at times. I mean, they were probably literally playing a P on Hee Haw, when it comes right down to it. Now I know I'm dismissing all sorts of history here, not to mention its deep rich tone, but...

 

Thunderbird. Even the name is perfect.

 

The funny thing is that I owned a Explorer-copy guitar for many years, and the body shape and huge case eventually drove me nuts. I imagine the T-bird might eventually do the same. Also, I wonder how fragile that irreplaceable (neck-thru design) neck is?

 

I'm definitely hooked, though. I was just watching the old video 'The Wedding Singer' with my class, and when I caught a glimpse of the bass player playing a Thunderbird, I got all excited! Later, they gave a good shot of it and I was like, "That's what I'm talking' about! YEAH!". Same thing happened when I watched the recent Allman Bros. DVD w/ Allen Woody. I have to admit that he sounded essentially the same when he was playing some nonsense headless bass (probably something really fancy and expensive, so sorry if I just insulted your prize posession -- it's just not my cup of tea), but when he was playing the Thunderbird, I couldn't help but enjoy his playing more!

 

To me, the Thunderbird just screams ROCK.

 

(but I've never even touched one, lol!, so don't listen to me)

 

As for the amp, I'm thinking Marshall Major (but only if you'll carry it).

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*ahem*

at the risk of causing offence to a great many of you,

 

The Gibson Thunderbird:

 

ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly.

 

Really ugly.

 

I particularly find the shape of the headstock to be quite nauseating for some reason.

 

I'm very sorry to all of you who love this instrument, and for what its worth I play a Rickenbacker 4003, which I'm sure a great many of you could level the same accusations at.

 

Veering slightly into the realms of 'whateverness' here, and for those of you who like to read too much into things -

 

The Cure (for they are a rock band) took a career nosedive at the exact point in time when there bassist shunned his beautiful handmade hollow body bass for a Gibson Thunderbird. Their career has only started to pick up now that he's taken to playing a variety of different makes.

 

Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!! ;)

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Over here the Darkness's bass player has pushed the sales of Epiphone T-birds up a scary amount but i've only ever seen the Epiphone version,never a "proper" Gibson one.

 

Having said that,when i played the phone version i could see myself rocking out infront of a huge crowd so i agree the look is awsome but i just did'nt think i could use it for all the Jazz/funk stuff i wanted to do so i got the Spector 5 string,covers all the basses so to speak.

 

But if you are a serious pick rocker then i cant think of a better bass for you to blow the roof clean off.

 

Much Love :thu:

Dave

"I am just an instrument cos the lord is playing this funk"-T.M Stevens
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One other thing to mention:

The Gibson "Blackbird" Thunderbird Nikki Sixx signature model basses are THE rock. Talk about eeevil. And... none more black. Definitely a cool looking bass.

 

#6 really wanted one for a while until he found the ESP Viper basses, which he likes so much that he bought two of them. I think he may still buy one eventually...

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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QUESTION:

 

Des anyone know what the deal was with Entwistle swapping out the stock neck on his Thunderbird with a Fender P-bass neck?

 

Seems like this makes no sense at all when you consider the Thunderbird is a neck-through design.

 

Why would you chop off a perfectly good stock neck and put on a non-matching bolt-on? :freak::confused:

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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Originally posted by Scary Muddy Cat:

QUESTION:

 

Des anyone know what the deal was with Entwistle swapping out the stock neck on his Thunderbird with a Fender P-bass neck?

Apparently he preferred the feel of the wider P-bass neck, though I doubt it was a deliberate decision to get rid of a perfectly good through neck the first time round - those T-bird necks are ever so skinny at the nut, and allied with the huge headstock (big leverage) and mahogany construction (rather weak in the lateral direction) they snap really easily. Many a vintage Thunderbird has had it's headstock glued back on after a fairly gentle knock.

 

I'm sure he preferred the tone of the P-bass neck as well - the stiffer maple construction giving the bass that much more high end and combining well with the deep pickups and round mahogany body to get that piano-like roaring tone he loved.

 

Alex

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Originally posted by C. Alexander Claber:

Originally posted by Scary Muddy Cat:

QUESTION:

 

Des anyone know what the deal was with Entwistle swapping out the stock neck on his Thunderbird with a Fender P-bass neck?

Apparently he preferred the feel of the wider P-bass neck, though I doubt it was a deliberate decision to get rid of a perfectly good through neck the first time round - those T-bird necks are ever so skinny at the nut, and allied with the huge headstock (big leverage) and mahogany construction (rather weak in the lateral direction) they snap really easily. Many a vintage Thunderbird has had it's headstock glued back on after a fairly gentle knock.

 

I'm sure he preferred the tone of the P-bass neck as well - the stiffer maple construction giving the bass that much more high end and combining well with the deep pickups and round mahogany body to get that piano-like roaring tone he loved.

 

Alex

Aahhh... I've discovered there's more to the story. Amazing what you can find on the internet.

 

From November 1975, Guitar Player - John Entwistle interview:

 

Once I realized the Thunderbird was the bass I was going to be playing for a few years, I panicked because they stopped making them. I went to Mannys [156 West 48th St., New York, NY 10036], and told them to buy up the whole stock, so consequently I got ten two-pickup Thunderbirds. Some of them had harmonic, microphonic pickups, so I couldnt use them, and with the rest, I just couldnt get the action as low as I wanted. So I used the pickups and hardware and bought some blonde Fender Precision necks and had some old style Thunderbird bodies built for the Fender necks to fit, and Ive been using them on stage more than the Thunderbirds. I use them for recording as well. Blonde Precision necks are my favorites; those and Rickenbackers. Thunderbird necks tend to be too thin down at the bottom. I get my fingers all tangled up when I go to the first fret.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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I play a 76 with Seymore duncans and a Bad Ass Bridge. Not everybody likes the sound of a Thunderbird. If you listen to the Dodge Ram truck commercial when the guy says hit it, thats the sound that comes naturally from my bass. I love the slim neck, When I grab a p bass at a local jam night on occasion it feels like I'm playing a telephone pole with zero sustain. I can simulate the sound of my Taurus pedals so well with the T Bird when playing a chord, I stopped taking the pedals to gigs. The Epiphone is a different animal, it has a bolt on neck, weighs about ten ounces and sounds like something out of Wall Mart. Paul.
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