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Old 11-16-2012, 05:42 AM   #1
Holdsworth123
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Epiphone Thunderbird IV

I've been after one of these beauties for a while, but i dont know if to get one because i look at some reviews and some are bad some are good and some are terrible. Anybody who has one of these basses help me out? What is it truly like?

I would appreciate your help.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:01 AM   #2
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Why were you after them in the first place? Could you try them? If you tryed them, and liked them, fvck the reviews, man. If you haven't tryed them yet, give them a try and see for yourself. That's all the advice i can give you.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:37 AM   #3
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The Epiphone Thunderbird VI is pretty much hated around these forums. The reason for the is that..well... the quality of them is pretty shoddy. The body is made out of plywood, the neck is a bolt on (the original gibson has a set-neck), they are prone to neck-diving, and many feel that the pick-ups are muddy.

Now, that being said: If you really like the sound and look of a thunderbird, I would suggest that you save up enough to buy a used gibson thunderbird. Alternatively, you can look into the Cataldo basses. They started out as a fenderbird project, but they hve started producing their own basses. The fix the problem of neck-dicing by having the strap-lock in the neck-joint, and they use thunderbucker pick-ups, which are hand-wound after the specifications of the thunderbird humbuckers from '63 and '66 (if I'm not mistaken). They will set you back more than the epiphone, but you get an instrument which is vastly better than their cheaper counter-part.

I'll just pop the link to their page riiiiiiight here: http://cataldobasses.com/
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:19 AM   #4
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Epiphone Thunderbirds appear to be a love 'em or hate 'em situation. It's pretty rare that I've found someone (who has had some time with one) who's on the fence. I think that they, more so than other basses, really need to be something you go and try a fair bit before you buy.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:00 AM   #5
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I'm one of the people on the fence, I've played one and loved the muddy tone but and thought it looked cool BUT it was very uncomfortable to play. All a matter of opinion though, I mean I hate fenders/squiers and love Ibanezes (Ibani?) but I also know of other people on this forum that have the opposite preference. Both are valid.

Long story short: Play one yourself and see if it's your thing.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:19 AM   #6
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Hey, been a member for a while but first post on the forums.

I'm a pretty big fan of the Thunderbird.

I've had two Epiphone Thunderbirds and currently own a Gibson Thunderbird and an Epiphone 'Elite' Thunderbird (short lived series, made in Japan, etc).

The 'regular' Epiphones were nice - decent for the price, looked great on stage (mine were both like a dark sunburst), had decent build quality - but honestly nothing to write home about. They didn't exactly sound like a Gibson thunderbird - they had bolt-on necks, different electronics and were made of different woods (at the time, the necks were maple and bodies were alder - typical Fender woods). Also, the necks were significantly fatter than on the real thing. Not in a bad way, but definitely not like the Gibsons. These tend to be pretty neck heavy too (a symptom of all thunderbirds), partially due to the shape of the body/position of the strap buttons, and the head stock size. Not balanced very well, and to some, not comfortable to play very long when standing up.

The Epiphone Elite is miles ahead. Look'em up. They were made for about 3 years (i think), and built in Japan. 2002/03/04, pretty sure. American made electronics/pickups. Nickel hardware (instead of black or chrome). Fit and finish is close to perfect. Looks to be modeled after an original Gibson Thunderbird, like the 1963/64 models. Mahogany body and neck (true to the original, minus the walnut-ply in the neck/thru). But the Epiphone Elite has a set-in neck (like most traditional Gibsons - Les Pauls, SGs, etc etc) as opposed to neck-thru body like a Gibson (FYI - Gibson made a "non-reverse" model with a set neck but the more popular modem has always been neck thru). This one tends to be neck heavy also - very slim neck with a huge headstock (again, modeled after the originals), very large tuners (vintage style).

The Gibson is neck-thru body (9-ply mahogany and walnut) with mahogany 'wings' or sides. Balance better than the other two, but still a bit neck heavy. Lovely sustain, especially on notes fretted higher up on the neck. Black hardware and pickups. Build quality and fit and finish is good, but not quite to the same level as the Epiphone Elite.
I'd have to say the Gibson is the best feeling/playing model, but the Epiphone Elite actually sounds better. The Gibson has a great grind and midrange growl to it, where the Elite has more boom and punch. Just my opinion.

So there's a long winded review, lol. To be honest, I've been thinking about selling the Epiphone Elite - I haven't played it in about two years, aside from just taking it out everyne now and then for a quick show and tell.

But yeah, as someone said - if you really want a thunderbird and plan on gigging with it or having it long term, I'd recommend trying to put the extra dollars away until you can afford either a Gibson or if you find one, an Epiphone Elite model
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:30 AM   #7
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They're like Rickenbackers in that they're horribly designed and overpriced but, unfortunately, they have no real alternative; if you want a Thunderbird then all you can get is a Thunderbird (not necessarily an Epi or Gibson Thunderbird though.)

Couldn't we tempt you to get an Ibanez instead?
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:15 PM   #8
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I have a Tokai TB48 Thunderbird and I like it. It's pretty neck heavy but you'll get used to it. It also has pretty big neck and it's not that easy to play slap on it, otherwise it's easy to play. I don't know how it differs from Epiphone because I haven't tried Epi TB.

But yeah, you should really try the Epi and if you can find the Tokai, try it.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:17 PM   #9
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The only Epi TB being made that is diecent are the TB Pro models that are neck-thru. The bolt on's I have played are pretty meh.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:50 PM   #10
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The reason they so divide people is that they are really a stupid design that could so easily be brilliant. They play well, sound great (for some sorts of music) and sustain forever if you get one with the laminated through neck. They are also just about the most awkward bass to play ever as the weight is all in the wrong place. The centre of gravity is way to the left of the centre between the strap mounts and this means the moment you let go of the neck it dives at the floor. The strap mount is also usually on the back of the guitar so it twists away from your body meaning you can't see the fretboard without twisting your body or the guitar. moving the strap mount means the neck dive gets worse. This all makes it very tiring to play.

I bought a Gibson though I was looking for an Epi Pro when it came up cheap. I hated it but decided to keep it for three months to see if I would adapt to the bass. I so loved the sound and the feel of the neck and oh, that lovely sustain but hated the twist and neck dive. Then I got used to it enough to play at a gig. Honestly i can say it was like Jim Carey putting on the Mask. The thing's a monster and it turns you into a monster, I had so much fun. I'm keeping it.

The (partial) solution to the handling problem is to use a wide strap with a rough inside to stop it slipping (leather or suede) and to strap it high on your chest, though some Tbird players strap it low. A conventional bass position doesn't work as you have to hold the bass all the time. even so it will move around and you end up throwing it into poses which makes it a great bass for an extrovert on stage. Also expect strangers to come up and dribble on it.

Don't buy if it is going to be your only bass or if you are a beginner and don't buy the Epi with the bolt on neck. Go for a Gibson or an Epi Pro series which have the through neck and better electronics.
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:01 PM   #11
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I've played a few standard Epiphone T-bird's which aren't very good.

A Thunderbird Pro however is a different story; They were upgraded over the years as well with small things such as strap button positioning for less neckdive.
With the active electronics it's also sounds a lot, and I do mean, a lot better.


Another thing to consider is the newer Vintage Thunderbird Pro or whatever they are called.
Which is a passive Thunderbird Pro. I haven't had my hands on one of these but if they turn out half decent I'd probably get one myself.

Last edited by shmbluh12 : 11-18-2012 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Starr
The reason they so divide people is that they are really a stupid design that could so easily be brilliant. They play well, sound great (for some sorts of music) and sustain forever if you get one with the laminated through neck. They are also just about the most awkward bass to play ever as the weight is all in the wrong place. The centre of gravity is way to the left of the centre between the strap mounts and this means the moment you let go of the neck it dives at the floor. The strap mount is also usually on the back of the guitar so it twists away from your body meaning you can't see the fretboard without twisting your body or the guitar. moving the strap mount means the neck dive gets worse. This all makes it very tiring to play.

I bought a Gibson though I was looking for an Epi Pro when it came up cheap. I hated it but decided to keep it for three months to see if I would adapt to the bass. I so loved the sound and the feel of the neck and oh, that lovely sustain but hated the twist and neck dive. Then I got used to it enough to play at a gig. Honestly i can say it was like Jim Carey putting on the Mask. The thing's a monster and it turns you into a monster, I had so much fun. I'm keeping it.



I agree with some of that - The Epiphones, especially the Elite model (I can't speak for the 'pro' models) are very neck heavy - combination of the body shape (and therefore location of the strap buttons) and massive headstock. The Elite model is slightly worse because it's modeled after an 'old' Thunderbird - 63/64, and possibly the original reissued models from 76/77/78/79 - which means the headstock is even bigger and so are the tuners. Bigger 'vintage style' tuning keys, long shaft, and larger back.

Gibson reissued the Thunderbird again in 1987 and its been in production since then. This 'newer' model is a much better balanced bass. Smaller headstock and much smaller and light weight tuners help a lot. The bass is lighter weight over all, maybe the hardeare and electronics? It also has a small belly contour on the back. The strap buttons are still in the same position. Oddly enough, I think the stock position is actually the best - Thunderbirds are always going be a bit neck heavy by their nature but when I repositioned my buttons, I found the 'headstock dive' to feel worse, even though the body seemed to hang in a slightly more even position.

Aside from the basic Epiphone, they have very slim necks. Slightly rounded front to back, but definitely not fat, and every thin - especially at the nut. Some people find them to be too thin for comfort, or just not meaty enough. The bodies arent as rounded/contoured as traditional 'Fender style' basses, some people don't like it either.
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Robbgnarly
The only Epi TB being made that is diecent are the TB Pro models that are neck-thru. The bolt on's I have played are pretty meh.


+1

The higher end ones are pretty nice. I used to own one of the bolt on models (Goth, specifically) and it was pretty awful. Heavy as shit, very unbalanced, horrible neck heel, crappy hardware.
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