TYPE: Solid body, 4-string
BODY: Mahogany slab with curved edges
NECK: Mahogany, set neck, 20 medium frets
SCALE LENGTH: 876mm (34.35-inch)
FINGERBOARD: Rosewood with white dot inlays
HARDWARE: Chrome plated tune-o-matic bridge, separate tailpiece, open gear tuners
PICKUPS: Two chrome-plated humbuckers
CONTROLS: 2 volume controls and one tone
FEATURES: Chrome covers, large white laminated scratchplate with Thunderbird motif and finger grip
FINISHES: Sunburst or Gibson custom colours with matching headstocks
COMMENTS: Introduced in 1963 as the bass version of the Firebird guitar, the original Thunderbird bass featured an outrageous ‘reverse body’ design. It was met with a degree of trepidation and its reception was at best luke warm.
In an attempt to reinvent what was actually a fine bass the non-reverse design was introduced in the 1965 Gibson catalogue although instrument production began in earnest in 1966. The neck through body construction was abandoned so the raised centre section as seen on the original Thunderbird Bass disappeared thus allowing for the big distinctive scratchplate.
Before the Thunderbirds all Gibson basses were short scale but these were full scale and were offered with one (Thunderbird II) or two (Thunderbird IV) pickups. The headstock was set back at an angle for secure string slotting into the nut.