Thunderbird Pro-IV review by Epiphone

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.5 (13 votes)
Epiphone: Thunderbird Pro-IV

Price paid: € 449

Purchased from: Music Store

Features — 7
My Thunderbird is a Thunderbird Classic IV Pro and was made in 2013 in Indonesia. It has a Mahogany body and a maple set-in neck with walnut veneer and a rosewood fretboard. They however had to tell me that it has a set-in Neck because it really looks like the body and Neck came from the same piece of wood. It just fits perfectly into each other and it has no corners at all, just smoothness. It further has an alpine white finish and black hardware.  

I heard some people complaining about it being to long with it's 34" scale (long scale) but long is what a bass should be. The Classic IV Pro has 20 frets but most importantly it has 2 Gibson USA Bass Humbucker-Pickups and of course the 2 volume knobs and a tone knob. It did not have any accessories included when I bought it, so I had to buy a case myself. Which was pretty nasty because it doesn't fit in a lot of cases. I had to buy the special Epiphone case which was more expansive than the on sale alternatives.

Sound — 9
I used to play it trough one of those no-brand 50 euro bass amps. It didn't sound that bad but one day I forgot to unplug the cable from my Randall RX120D guitar amp and it sounded like a beast. You can use it for a lot of different styles too. Whether I wanted to play classic rock, Metal, blues or anything else. Just by adjusting the volume or tone knobs it sounded like it was made to play it. You can't adjust the sounds really accurate if you ask me. When using the volume or tone knobs it's either 10 or 1. It is not that putting one of the volume knobs on 5 doesn't change the sound. But it's not astonishingly different and when you play with other people you might not even hear the difference. 

This might be due to the fact that I'm used to a couple guitars and footpedals with which it really makes a difference when you turn the knob to 5 or 7. Or it might be because I play it on either a cheap bass amp or a guitar amp. But overall, you can get some good and different sounds from one Thunderbird which makes it perfect if you don't want to carry 4 basses to 1 gig.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I usually spend quite a time in a guitar shop before I purchase something. And while I'm there I always talk with some of the salesmen. One of those salesmen explained me that Epiphone doesn't do final adjustments when they finish guitars. And a lot of Epiphone dealers also don't adjust the guitars when they sell them because they do not want to mess with Epiphone products. So when you get an Epiphone guitar or bass which has been perfectly adjusted you're either lucky or your dealer is not afraid of Epiphone getting mad for screwing around with their guitars. My Thunderbird however was adjusted by the Music Store staff. And they nailed it. Perfect action, perfect Fit and a great finish. I couldn't find any flaws (and I'm really picky when it comes to this).

There were two problems with the bass:

- The first one was that a little corner on the fretboard was missing at the top side. I seriously thought of returning the bass when I saw that. However while playing the bass I realised that this missing corner actually improved the way the fretboard felt when i played the E string on the first fret. Nevertheless it doesn't receive a prize for best looking corner on a fretboard. 

- And the second flaw where sharp edges under the bridge when I removed the strings. Even the Music Store staff overlooked this but it was easily fixed with a little filing.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had quite a collection of guitars and all of them showed minor letdowns when it came to reliability. An Epiphone Les Paul Custom of which the tune knob of the G-string had to be replaced after 3 years. And the paintjob wouldn't receive a 10 rating if I had to rate it. A Fender Telecaster of which the strap fell of numerous times. And a Yamaha Pacifica which had to be re-soldered a few times. However none of these problems have occurred on my Thunderbird. The strap locks into place and it's really tough to remove it. I've opened it up and the solding looks great. As well as the awesome alpine white paintjob. I would definitely take this one on stage next time.

Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for about 7 years now. I had a band of four people, however people left for health reason, work or just because we weren't playing enough metal. Trying to create a new band I switched to bass a year ago. We mostly play classic rock, and blues (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Beatles and all those other '70s, '80s and '90s bands). My bass sounds perfect when playing with my new band (guitarist, seeing as we only have 2 solid members and the others are more or less session members). But having a lot of changing members also asks for a lot of different songs and by just turning a knob the Thunderbird sounds completely different. 

So for those people searching the web for reviews to get a clear image of what they should buy.  I've spend 2 hours in the shop trying a lot of basses. I've played a 6-string fender bass, the Hofner Paul McCartney bass and a lot of others, But in the end I fell in love with the Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV Pro. And I would strongly urge to take a look at it before purchasing something else.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    First off I am a member of The Blues Hal lOf Fame. I bought my TBIRD PRO IV several years ago Made in Korea. It has been one of my "road" basses since new .IT KICKS ASS. Enough said .
    I've also got one in trans black, and its just awesome. And i also thought changing the pickguard to a white one. Completely great price/quality ratio. Exellent bass!