Thunderbird Bass

A visually striking 1965 Gibson Thunderbird bass was recently profiled by Vintage Guitar as part of the publication’s “Classic instruments” series. After providing some brief historical background, the article notes that Gibson “opted to get into the full-scale electric bass market in earnest” with the introduction of the Thunderbird in 1963.

“Companions to the Firebird guitars, Thunderbirds featured neck-through construction with body sides glued to the neck block,” states the author. “Early examples had a two-piece full-length neck, but by the end of the first year, a nine-layer laminated neck was employed for better strength.”

The article goes on to point out that the Thunderbird II and IV iterations were “simply one- and two-pickup models with dot fretboard inlays.”

“They featured new humbucking pickups without pole-pieces, and their Tune-O-Matic bridges and stop tailpieces were also new,” says the article. “The single-pickup II had a volume and tone control, and the double-pickup IV had two volume controls and a master tone knob. Original Firebirds had rear-projecting banjo-style tuners; Thunderbirds had conventional bass tuners ….”

Vintage Guitar rightly notes that Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash and the late Allen Woody of Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers Band are among the instrument’s noteworthy players. Click here to check out the 2018 edition of the Gibson Thunderbird.