Epiphone Thunderbird Users - your honest thoughts?

I am looking at trading in a Jazz Bass for a Vintage Sunburst Thunderbird, that I totally don’t need. I just love how it looks.

Does anyone use Thunderbirds here? I get the impression that they seem to be an unpopular design, and Epiphone seems to be an unpopular brand for bass guitars?

What are the real world pros and cons from any real world users here? Thanks!

5 Likes

I have not played a Thunderbird so can’t speak to it. Epiphone though has a poor reputation with quality issues. Never buy an epi sight unseen is the rule of thumb, always play one first.

If I were to to go for that style, I would go for a Phoenix by LTD/ESP

5 Likes

Dunno, I kinda dig an original Gibson Thunderbird. They are just rare and expensive :man_shrugging:t2:

4 Likes

I’d steer way clear of an Epiphone Thunderbird. I’d keep the Jazz, for sure. My $0.02.

5 Likes

Not sure about the basses but I did have an Epiphone Firebird guitar in that shape and it was very unwieldy and difficult to play. The body is just a massive slab of wood that puts the fretboard way out from your fretting hand. I would imagine the bass scale would amplify the distance. Also, they are known for being very boomy and muffled sounding (which I guess new pickups would solve). However, from what I understand the pickups are a non-standard type only made by a few manufacturers and can be hard to find. I think, given what I experienced with the Firebird, I would totally pass and just work with the Jazz bass you have.

4 Likes

The couple I got my cat from, the husband was a bass player and has one just sitting in a case. He showed it to me briefly.

But I digress :eyes:

3 Likes

As someone who has bought 5 Epiphones in the last year or so, the quality is fine, they just need a real setup. They’re great playing instruments, all of the Gibson style basses are, but you have to understand the tone that they provide. If you like playing music that is known for being played on p basses, I wouldn’t get one. Personally, I think the Gibson style basses sound very similar to jazz basses on the bridge pickup. Jazz basses are a dime a dozen, so as long as you aren’t trading down I would consider trading if you had another p bass or jazz bass on hand. If you’re trading your primary bass that you are used to playing, I would not recommend it.
Edit: the 3 post bridges are also fine, but you need to make sure they are angle upwards toward the neck at about 20 degrees to give proper string breakover and tension on the posts

3 Likes

I see them listed on OfferUp dirt cheap all the time and they never sell. That’s the extent of my experience with them.

3 Likes

If you really like that design, save up your pennies for one of these:

Dingwall supposedly balanced this design and made it playable.

6 Likes

I had an Epiphone T-Bird for a while and really liked the way it sounded and played. I ended up selling it because for me it was just too large and unwieldy. I’ve had a couple of other Epi’s and have never had any QC issues with them.

5 Likes

Epiphones seem very hit or miss to me for quality. The last couple I have tried in stores were junk (and no it wasn’t a setup issue; one had fret sprout you could feel through a binding, all had cheap feeling plastic hardware, though that’s in part due to the instruments they were Epi versions of).

Also some of the corners they cut from the original Gibson designs can make them way worse. One example, Les Pauls are not convortable for me to hold, but the Epi kind of accentuated the discomfort due to its slightly different contouring.

So, much like with Gibson, you might end up with a winner, but you should definitely try it before you buy, unless you’re willing to just immediately resell. Used this can be fine; new not so much.

The way I put it in another thread is that Squier does a way better job for Fender as the entry level line than Epiphone does for Gibson.

3 Likes

That may be part of the problem. I only buy from sweetwater anymore. The stuff hanging up in box stores ain’t worth a damn

2 Likes

These were not box stores :rofl:

You’re right though.

2 Likes

Just get a Sandberg 48. Problems over …

9 Likes

Greetings fellow Thunderbird fan @simonpwood !

I have been a happy T-bird user for a few months now.

Very comfortable to play, a reasonable range of tone with lots of mid growl and may I say, some freakishly good looks. Get a decent wide strap and you will have no neckdive problems. The only problem is the size - you’ll need to buy a special gigbag or case.

If you like The Who, Motorhead, Skynyrd or (gag…) Motley Crue, this is the bass for you :slight_smile:

I’m actually really impressed by Epiphone - their Jack Cassidy bass has just caught my eye …

4 Likes

That bass got me into bass playing. They look so cool.

4 Likes

Thanks, unfortunately the one I was looking at is in a different country so not possible to play!

2 Likes

Yeah I guess this is what Im going to do. GAS avoided for now!

3 Likes

Is it larger than a Jazz Bass?

2 Likes

That is nice. The one I was looking at is more traditional looking!

Are they much larger than a Fender Jazz?

3 Likes