“It will sound funky, but, as a beefy-on rock bass – whacked with the heaviest pick you would procure – is when it’s in its part”: Epiphone Thunderbird ’64 evaluate

Guitar World Verdict

As effectively as having worthy pose most likely, the Epiphone Thunderbird ’64 is a proper pleasure to play. It’s advanced to overstate upright how noteworthy fun it is strapping on a bass fancy this and upright letting rip.


  • +

    Huge appears and manufacture.

  • +

    Spectacular setup and playability.

  • +

    A extra cheap Thunderbird.


  • It feels dazzling hideous to place on.

  • We were unable to prevent the headstock from making an strive to kiss the floor.

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Bass players from all genres had been known to deploy a Thunderbird, most clearly on story of its mids-heavy tone, but additionally since it appears so chilly.

The Gibson Thunderbird became once first and necessary presented assist in 1963 and for loads of years competed favourably towards the products emanating from the Fender stable. The reverse physique made it a success with rock players internationally, John Entwistle being one important person, and to on the present time it remains a current with bassists who revel within the leer, retro styling and thick tone of the usual models, which would possibly per chance presumably presumably also be now extremely prized collectors items carrying dear impress tags.

Fortunately, the unusual Thunderbird ’64 from Gibson’s extra cheap offshoot Epiphone combines usual T-rooster–narrate functions yet sits at lower than half of the worth of a absolutely-fledged Gibson. 

Launched in honour of the sixtieth anniversary of the usual Thunderbird, let’s explore if this courageous upstart would possibly per chance give the worthy boys a trot for his or her cash.

Epiphone Thunderbird 64

(Describe credit: Gibson Brands, Inc)

Non-public Quality

So what does all this vintage-trend loveliness entail? Wisely, it starts with mahogany, and loads of it. In primitive Thunderbird trend, the physique functions a nine-ply mahogany and walnut neck-by design of manufacture with mahogany wings.

Curiously, the Thunderbird became once Gibson’s first moral long-scale bass, and long unquestionably is the operative note. These basses leer worthy and in actuality feel dazzling hideous to place on – study an total P-Bass measurement of forty five.5 inches to the humungous 50 inches of the Thunderbird. 

Weight-wise, you would possibly per chance per chance presumably presumably be shocked to be taught that the T-rooster’s excessive measurement isn’t matched by a corresponding weight penalty, but that in itself brings complications; sitting down is gorgeous whereas the bass sits during your leg, but stand up and the unbalanced headstock weight pulls the neck straight down to the floor.

This implies the bass must be performed either alongside with your below forearm resting during the discontinue of the bass as you pluck by the neck, or you indulge in to toughen the bass alongside with your fretting hand as you play it.

It’s serene a manageable load to hang during a gig, and anyway, it upright wouldn’t in actuality feel apt to play this bass slung low on the strap Nikki Sixx-trend if it didn’t indulge in moderately of neck dive.

Epiphone Thunderbird 64

(Describe credit: Gibson Brands, Inc)

The nine-ply Mahogany/Walnut neck feels nice and rotund – there’s unquestionably loads to shield up on to here, but it is no longer so rotund as to impede your having fun with plot. The Indian Laurel board is home to twenty medium-sized frets.

The funky scratchplate has the natty American Indian-trend eagle logo. Hide additionally, the two strap buttons on the heel and the lower bout – sadly both were unable to prevent the headstock from making an strive to kiss the floor.

Alongside with the chilly Ember Crimson dwell and matching headstock, it became once the hardware spec that caught our see when this bass became once first presented. Top billing goes to the distance of ProBucker 760 humbuckers. They’re wired to particular person volume controls and a grasp tone, with the output jack socket sitting below. 

Strings are firmly anchored with a tune-o-matic trend bridge and ‘tail claw’ (all nickel-plated), with the latter a wonderfully minimalist but completely functional anchor piece. Originate-tools, clover tuners shield it in tune on the different dwell.

Epiphone Thunderbird 64

(Describe credit: Gibson Brands inc)

Sounds and Playability

Unplugged, the Thunderbird ’64 sounds intellectual and ballsy. It be loud with loads of shield and, thanks to the excessive identical outdated of setup, the medium action offers worthy playability. That hideous neck in actuality encourages you to salvage stuck in and, earlier than it is even viewed an amplifier, all signs level in direction of this bass being a total bunch of fun to play.

Bound it in and there’s a comfortingly retro hollowness to the sound, introduced up-to-date by the ProBucker humbuckers. Unsurprisingly, these pickups attain into their very indulge in in a heavy rock surroundings. There’s proper bite here, and with loads of shield too. The bridge pickup is intellectual and twangy without being too skinny, whereas the neck pickup is extra beefy and bassy without sounding dead or flabby.

The Thunderbird ’64 can sound funky too, but, as a beefy on rock bass whacked with the heaviest plectrum you would procure is when it’s in its part – hence its recognition with the genre. 

Upper-worry salvage entry to is, as you would possibly per chance per chance presumably indulge in guessed, a puny bit restricted, thanks to the protruding lower horn, despite the indisputable truth that the neck itself is stunning to play.


With the styling of its physique and headstock, the Thunderbird ’64 makes no secret of its rock inclinations, but it’s alternatively no longer so queer as to place off players who indulge in never so noteworthy as owned a leather jacket. And the reality that it stands out with regards to playability, when that visible vibe is so distinctive, says loads about the usual of Epiphone’s Chinese language-constructed instruments.

I deserve to admit, the full time I became once having fun with this bass, I became once continuously apprehensive that any individual or one thing would come upon the over-projecting headstock causing it to snap on the assist of the nut. All mahogany-constructed Gibsons are notorious for this particular occasion trick. 

To our reduction, the bass is extremely playable. Sure, it comes with a ‘worthy’ in actuality feel: a roughly solid, rotund, presence, but it additionally has that vintage-vibe that completely illustrates why dilapidated instruments are serene so cherished.

It be priced some design below the $1,000 impress, which pondering what you salvage for the cash, is dazzling upright payment. It is per chance no longer rather as versatile with regards to tone as smartly-liked rock players would possibly per chance presumably maybe indulge in, but what it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in pure Thunderbird feistiness.


  • Worth: $849 / £849  (inc gigbag)
  • Made in: China
  • Physique: 9-ply mahogany/walnut, neck-by design of 
  • Neck: 9-ply mahogany/walnut, 34” scale
  • Nut: Graph Tech
  • Fingerboard: Indian laurel, 20 frets
  • Pickups: 2x ProBucker 760 Bass Humbucker
  • Controls: 2x Grasp Quantity, Grasp Tone
  • Hardware: Originate-tools tuners, Vintage ‘Ancient Tune-O-Matic’ bridge
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs / 3.9 kg
  • On hand finishes: Ember Crimson, Silver Mist, Inverness Inexperienced.
  • Contact: Epiphone

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Sever Wells became once the Editor of Bass Guitar journal from 2009 to 2011, earlier than making strides into the sphere of Artist Family with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He’s additionally the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Adjustments and Beneath the Bassline, to boot to Production Supervisor and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you’re going to procure him jumping spherical his bedroom to Kool & The Gang whereas hammering the life out of his P-Bass.

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