Thunderbird IV review by Epiphone

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (402 votes)
Epiphone: Thunderbird IV
1

Price paid: € 300

Purchased from: Local Music Store - Finland

Features — 8
"Made in China," states the black and gold sticker behind the headstock. Sometimes those three words mean cutting corners, passing quantity over quality, but not this time. This instrument is a nice one. Some major improvements would be the tuning pegs and the initial set up: the tuners are doggiedoo, but livable with. They make funny jumps and clicks when they are used, but they get the job done nonetheless. Set up-wise the action is a wee bit high in my taste, but its good for a bass in this price range. All in all, the Budget Bird is a solid choice for an trustable all-round, home jamming or beater bass.

Here's some facts, courtesy of epiphone.com:

Specifications:

  • Body mahogany
  • Neck Hard maple
  • Neck Profile SlimTaper™
  • Neck joint Bolt-on
  • Truss Rod Double-Action, 2-Way
  • Fingerboard rosewood with dot inlay
  • Fingerboard R. 12”
  • Frets 20-medium jumbo
  • Nut Width 1.73"
  • Neck Pickup Epiphone TB Plus bass humbucker
  • Bridge Pickup Epiphone TB Plus bass humbucker
  • Bridge 3-point fully adjustable
  • Controls Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, Master Tone
  • Tuners Premium die-Cast 17:1 ratio
  • Outputs 1/4" Mono, Metal Jack Plate
  • Hardware Black
  • Options Hard Case
  • Typical Weight (+/- 5%) 8.7 lbs / 3.94 kg

Sound — 10
Soundscape can be adjusted fairly well, but the main characteristics are dictated by the passive humbuckers; you get the best result in rock or heavy or any other music style that requires a punch in the scrotes that this bass delivers. With or without a pick. The basic adjustments are: Sonic Wall Of Death from both pickups with full tone, Velvet Growl from neck pickup with full tone, Snappy Poppy from bridge pickup with full tone, and anything in between. Personal favorite is, of course, the Sonic Wall Of Death. Played with a pick on top of the neck pickup, whoah nellie you're in for a treat.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Set up could be better, but it isn't beyond hopeless. Actually with little work the bass can be brought to life anew. Action is a bit high, but ok. Can't say much for the pickups. They pick the sound up. Some of the frets near and beyond 12th aren't too well finished. Don't make any sudden movements there, or the Bird bites you. The tuning pegs are the worst of the bunch. With groaning hesitation, and funny noises from the pegs, you might get in tune. When you get the hang of it, it gets easier. If you aren't too keen to stay in your comfort zone, or hang on to general sanity, you might say they are ok.

Reliability & Durability — 9
No experience from live playing, but I can imagine the bass going through a high energy gig without much problems. Hardware feels sturdy enough to not be causing any problems beyond normal wear. The vibe this bass lets out is one of all-roundiness and ok-ness. Finish seems good enough to make this bass your long time buddy regardless of situation. Durability gets longer with a good strap that eliminates neck dive, or else you might set this thing fire. This thing loves to make cartwheels on your neck if you're not careful.

Overall Impression — 8
I play mainly on the rockier and heavier side of things, occasionally dabbling in disco, and this bass plays pretty well in all those genres. I've been playing on and off for over 10 years now, and this bass is one of the better ones I've owned. MAJOR DISCLAIMER though: Ergonomics are from another planet with this one. Neck feels good, my hand is average size, but on the body end of things this thing is awkward. Perhaps I haven't owned it long enough to grow accustomed to it, but it feels exceptional. In the good and bad meanings. Best when played standing up. If the universe lost all governing laws and this sledgehammer of a bass could be broken somehow, I would probably buy a new bass with a traditional body style. The body of this thing is an acquired taste. When shopping for a new bass, I played this and a Tokai Jazzer. Somehow my gut gravitated towards this Baby Bird, and no regrets have arisen from that decision. The biggest complaint is my too short right arm for the bass body, or my own apparently. Other than that, this bass is a hoot.

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