There are some guitars—the Les Paul, the SG, the Flying V—that are instantly recognizable, their iconic shapes having long been embedded into the hearts and minds of music enthusiasts everywhere.
The Gibson Thunderbird IV bass joined this distinguished lineup shortly after its introduction in 1963. The Thunderbird’s unique “reversed” zig-zag body design and equally distinct headstock was the brainchild of legendary automotive designer and visionary Ray Dietrich, enlisted by Gibson to bolster the guitar lines of the early ’60s and help solidify the company’s eminent rank among solidbody electric guitar manufacturers. Includes hardshell case.
60s Rounded Bass Neck Profile
No guitar neck profiles are more distinguishable than the neck profiles on the Gibson models of today. The ’60s rounded bass neck profile on the Thunderbird IV is based on the more modern, slim-tapered necks most commonly associated with the Les Paul and SG models of the early 1960s. The neck is machined in Gibson’s rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts.
But once the fingerboard gets glued on, the rest—including the final sanding—is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
TB Plus Ceramic Magnet Humbuckers
The pickups on the early Gibson basses of the 1960s remained unchanged for many years, undergoing only minor cosmetic modifications from time to time, but staying true to the originals’ sonic characteristics. The pickups in today’s Thunderbird IV—two vintage-style TB Plus humbuckers—both capture and recreate the classic attributes of those early Gibson basses.
The TB plus humbuckers are traditional hum-cancelling bass pickups with ceramic magnets. They are wax potted then filled with epoxy, producing a full frequency, heavy-bottom sound similar to pickups with a passive EQ, and delivering the huge, powerful bass tone the Thunderbird IV is renowned for.
Three-Way Adjustable Bridge and Tailpiece
Gibson’s innovative three-way adjustable bridge and tailpiece combo is the standard for simplicity and functionality. It provides players with the ability to adjust and fine-tune the height of the Thunderbird IV’s bass strings in all directions—front, back, and side-to-side—which gives the bridge a “floating” feature, thus allowing the bass to be equipped with a variety of string gauges and multiple set-up options.
The Thunderbird IV’s legendary resonance, tone, and sustain is the result of anchoring the bridge directly into the body at its three adjustable points, which provides a firm seating for the strings and yields a strong union between the strings and body. Readily accessible screws make setting the intonation simple and unproblematic. To this day, Gibson’s three-way adjustable bridge remains an industry standard. It is the epitome of form and function in bass guitar bridge design.
The Thunderbird IV’s multiple-wood-ply construction is as structurally and aesthetically innovative as any Gibson feature. The neck and center piece of the body are constructed from solid mahogany, as are the two wings that are glued on to each side to form the Thunderbird’s distinct outline. Gluing all the pieces together ensures maximum “wood-to-wood” contact, and allows the neck and body to function as a single unit. This neck-through-body construction results in better tone and unsurpassed sustain, and no loose or misaligned necks.
Today’s Thunderbird IV—with its huge, thunderous sound—is still a benchmark of innovation, functionality, and style, and continues to symbolize Gibson’s drive to achieve creative excellence.
Features:• Nine-ply Mahogany and Walnut neck-through-body construction
• Nine-ply Mahogany neck
• Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
• Three-way adjustable bridge
• Two TB Plus ceramic magnet humbuckers
• Two volume and one tone control and black hardware