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Epiphone Thunderbird - Vintage Makeover


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A while back I came across a really good deal on a "Limited Edition/Custom Shop" Epiphone Thunderbird at Music Go Round. I wasn't looking to buy it, but the store made me a package offer along with a vintage Ampeg Portaflex that I was going to buy anyway. I normally don't care for Epi birds due to the nut width being wider than a Gibson, but this one sounded really good unplugged so I figured what the heck. I later on figured out that this one has a mahogany body like the Goths, Silverburst, and Blackbirds. Factory fluke? No clue - but it was a nice bonus.


Since it was already finished in Pelham Blue - I decided to give it a "vintage makeover" of sorts and dress it up like a '64 Gibson Thunderbird. Some of the components I added or had to use aren't true 60's specs, but the overall impression I wanted was that of a bass from the '60's. I took it to it's first gig last weekend, and got lots of compliments on the look. Some people even thought it was a vintage T-bird so I feel like I succeeded in nailing the vintage vibe. The Epiphone neck pickup put out lots of deep thump, and the repro Lull T pickup gave well defined growl without being overly crisp. Perfect combination!


Here's a list of the upgrades/changes:


  • Hipshot Ultralite tuners
  • Gibson Studio TRC (Epi TRC retained)
  • Bone nut
  • Gibson silver top knobs
  • Silver jack nut
  • Schaller straplocks in off center positions
  • Chrome Epiphone bridge
  • Repro handrest and bridge cover
  • Foam mute
  • Vintage Gibson finger rest
  • Silver pickguard screws
  • Tone pot wired to work on neck pickup only
  • Mike Lull bridge pickup & ring
  • 500K CTS pot on bridge pickup
  • DR Black Beauties













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I don't even notice the covers are there. Then again I'm also used to playing a 62 P-bass with covers. Usually I just rest my thumb on the pup cover the same way I would the pickup- and pluck behind it. Sometimes for a mellower tone, I'll use the "Jamerson" technique and rest my middle,ring, and pinky fingers on the cover itself - and use my index finger alone to pluck on the neck side of the cover.




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Drool [drool] ...


& this isn't a critism raven, I'm just curiuos, but why lable it a Gibby when it's an Epi [confused]


Why not loud & proud man... loud & proud! [thumbup]




Purely aesthetic reasons. Same as a lot of the other components. I'll never get the opportunity or have the funds to own/gig out a vintage '60's Gibson, so I wanted this to look as close as possible. I really should have used a TRC that has gold lettering, but I had the silver one already and it adds to the chromed out look. I've even thought of swapping the thick Epi pick gurad for a thinner .060 Gibson guard, and adding a '60's tail piece behind the three point bridge. Greco Thunderbirds have that combination, and with the bridge cover the three way isn't that noticeable. Those mods are way off in the future - if I ever do them. But for now it's getting the reaction I wanted from folks at shows [smile]

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