Gibson Thunderbird Pickguard

gibson thunderbird pickups

I’ve been dabbling with Gibson Thunderbird Pickguard  guitar/bass repair for years out of necessity and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at refinishing a bass, but I’ve never had the right candidate to practice on… until now.

A Czech-made clone of a 1965.5 to 69 Gibson Thunderbird bass (referred to as the “non-reverse” body style) came into my life and immediately captured my interest. These basses were custom-made based on measurements, photos, and tracings taken from an original Gibson non-reverse Thunderbird. I generally don’t go out of my way for a copy, but this one is pretty remarkable.

My primary gigging bass these days is a scruffy old ’76 Thunderbird, and I was impressed (amazed) by how closely this one nailed the distinctive sound and feel of the “real” Thunderbird. The dimensions of the skinny neck and thin body, the shape of the set neck heel, the break angle at the headstock, the position of the controls and jack, and the repro bridge assembly… everything together yielded an almost dead-ringer copy of an original (which is relatively scarce; only a few hundred ever produced; never reissued).

The Goth Thunderbird Bass puts a new twist on an old favorite and with a Pitch Black finish, becomes the black diamond of the Goth collecton. The Thunderbird first issued from the legendary Kalamazoo factory in 1963 was for a time the only bass available from Gibson or Epiphone. But really, what else could you need? The Thunderbird’s unique “reversed” zig-zag body design and equally distinct headstock was the brainchild of legendary automotive designer and visionary Ray Dietrich, who was enlisted by the Kalamazoo factory to bolster the guitar lines of the early ’60s and help solidify the factory’s eminent rank among solidbody electric guitar manufacturers. The Thunderbird bass was quickly embraced by rock and rollers in the States and in England and Europe, and today is still the ultimate rock and roll low end machine. Building upon the long-term success of the classic Thunderbird, Epiphone introduces the Goth ThunderbirdTM IV for serious rockers only.

Like all of our instruments, the Goth Thunderbird-IV comes with our Limited Lifetime Warranty and Gibson 24/7/365 customer service. Visit your Authorized Epiphone Dealer today and get back to a new future soar with a Thunderbird Pro from our bass collection

Thunderbird Bass Pickguard

thunderbird bass pickguard

The Thunderbird Bass Pickguard is part of Gibson’s upgraded line of instruments for the year 2015, which introduces multiple new features to many of their popular electric guitar and bass guitar models.

The most notable improvement introduced in the Gibson Thunderbird Bass 2015 is the use of Babicz Full Contact Hardware bridge, a recently developed type of bridge that lets you fully “lock down” the bridge saddles for improved tuning stability, easier adjustments and sustain.

The body of this bass is still the same, built using multi-matched mahogany wood and carved into the distinct Thunderbird shape. However, the official description speaks of improvements in wood selection called “comprehensive wood selection and grading”, where they only use wood that meet the qualities that they are looking for.

The neck receives a bulk of improvements, including a thicker rosewood fretboard and better looking pearl inlays. The playability of the mahogany/walnut neck is improved via smoother sanding and buffing, the fretboard is also oiled to give it a broken-in feel. Gibson also spoke of an updated “comprehensive setup” where they improved the Plek system to have better action and Intonation.

The pickups and electronics were also improved, with the official description saying that the 2015 Thunderbird Bass now has increased tonal Versatility, with eight distinct sounds.

This sonic versatility is made possible by the dual EB Bass Alnico pickups that feature Gibson’s novel “tuned coil tapping” design. These 8 bass tones are selectable via the three-way pickup selector and the two mini toggle switches that sit right below the three control knobs.

Unfortunately, we cannot yet see this “Tuned coil tapping” system at work, because they haven’t released a video demonstration yet. It definitely would be interesting how it applies to the bass, and also to electric guitars.

Gibson provided some details on each of the sound:

Neck pickup: Balanced tone, most bass, mids give some “bark”
Tapped neck pickup: Scoops some mids, rounder sound, retains low end
Bridge pickup: Less low end, more midrange bite
Tapped bridge pickup: Scoops mids, lighter low end, defined highs, good “pop” bass sound
Neck and bridge pickups: Retains strong low end, adds midrange but there’s an apparent slight scoop in the lower mids because the higher and lower frequencies are louder
Tapped neck pickup and bridge pickup: Major scooping around 500Hz-1kHz, good lows, a hint of brightness, lays back in a track
Tapped bridge pickup and neck pickup: Adds some upper mids back in compared to the tapped neck pickup and bridge pickup
Tapped bridge pickup and tapped neck pickup: Like the tapped neck pickup and bridge pickup sound, but adds slightly lower midrange frequencies back in.
Other notable features of the Thunderbird 2015 include the improved contact output jack, which is now more secure, as well as the cables that are now more robust for improved signal strength.