Thunderbird IV review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 1
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 6.2 Neat
  • Users' score: 8.2 (402 votes)
Epiphone: Thunderbird IV

Price paid: $ 279

Purchased from: GC

Sound — 9
I like to play everything from classic rock to funk, disco, country, jazz, and even early Gary Numan (whatever you choose to call that). I'm also a beginner/~6 months of playing so it suits me fine as long as I can play what I know so far with any competency. I've been playing it through a Rumble 15 and a Rumble 30. SO, for my purposes it sounds fine and doesn't have any issues with hum or any other errant noises. I have played with the overdrive on the 30, and it's a lot of fun, but really there isn't a setting on this bass that I don't like or don't find useful... So far.

Overall Impression — 6
My wife bought this for me as a Valentine's present (yay meeee!) after I played one (not THIS very one) at GC and marvelled at how comfortable it felt, and how slick the neck felt with the satin finish, in comparison to other T-Birds... And didn't stop talking about it. It's the second bass I've owned, and after playing my P-Bass for a couple of months between the time I began playing, and tried out the T-Bird, I found the T-Bird to be great for songs I knew well, but not so good for learning new ones. In just a month or two, it was not the panacea to my bass awkwardness I thought it would be... But I still loved the shape and finish and found myself playing it very often. Very disappointed about the neck cracking; I haven't seen too many mentions of this taking place even with all of the metions about neck dives. Would I recommend it? I dunno. If it hadn't broken - certainly.

Reliability & Durability — 1
I haven't gigged this bass. The neck is cracking from the notch for the nut diagonally up and towards the back of the neck. This bass has suffered NO abuse/neck dives/etc. I bought a hard case for it before it ever left the house and has been to my instructor's approximately 3 times in 2.5 months. Very bummed.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
This came with a fairly flat neck; it needed a minor tweak on the truss rod to which it was very responsive. The action was too high for my preference; I generally try to get it as low as I can without any frets buzzing under normal play (finger - no picks). That said, there are couple of high frets, but not too high to preclude getting the action "within standard spec". Knobs are all quiet and effective. Pickups were just fine. A couple of rough frets on the neck, but still not so bad. Tuners seem to be fine. Stock strings are absolute crap. The bridge suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuux though for attempting to set the action with any precision. I was going to buy a Hipshot Supertone until the event you'll see below.

Features — 9
I won't bother with the standard features other than the mahogany body, the black satin finish, the Roman numeral twelfth fret marker, and the Celtic Cross pickguard unique (AFAIK) to the Goth. Feature-wise, it's an Epi T-bird with a very sweet-feeling finish... At least that is the draw for me.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The neck dives to the floor if you don't hold on tight. The tone is dull and difficult to articulate. The finish can't take polish, scratches easily, and begins to flake off and feel rough on the back of the neck within days. The "high-output" humbuckers really don't sound any louder or fuller than than any other pickups I've heard, but they do create lots of crackle and hiss through every amp that I've used it with. When I first saw this bass, I thought it looked and sounded awesome. Now that I'm looking to add some variety to my playing, I sincerely wish that I had bought something different. If you're going to be playing lots of Judas Priest/AcDc type stuff, then I suppose you might like this bass. If you want anything more than that, forget about it.