Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird review

Is there a harder-rocking bass guitar on the market than the God of Thunder's signature collaboration with Gibson?

  • £2499
  • €2790
  • $2799
Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird Bass
(Image: © Gibson)

MusicRadar Verdict

The G2 Thunderbird is a beast of a bass guitar for unleashing your inner rock animal, and there are hidden depths in those tones, too. This is a premium instrument for players who are serious about making fun music.


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    It looks super cool.

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    It sounds super hot.

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    Covers a lot of tones well, but excels at rock thump.


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    You'll want dry ice on your pedalboard.

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Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird: What is it?

You can approach the Gibson Gene Simmons G2 signature Thunderbird bass guitar from a couple of different angles and still end up at the same place. 

There will be those who sleep in a Kiss coffin of an evening, the super-fan who plays Kiss pinball while waiting for the kettle to boil. They’ll love it, of course. Then there’s simply the bass guitarist with a penchant for Thunderbirds. They’ll love it too. Because while the Kiss connection is super-cool, there’s no need to make a big thing about it. 

This is a signature instrument that doesn’t shout it out loud that it’s a signature instrument.  Unlike a Kiss show, the aesthetic is restrained. A mirror plex pickguard on a traditionally angular Thunderbird frame is finished in gloss nitro ebony. 

The fundamentals – solid mahogany body, mahogany neck, 12” radius ebony fingerboard and 34” scale – are all present and correct. Okay, Simmons’ skull and cross guitars logo on the pickguard is not for the purists, but file this under a modernistic Thunderbird. That’s what the G2 is, and its spec is quality. 

Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird

(Image credit: Gibson)

It has Hipshot open-gear mini-clover tuners and Hipshot bridge. Simmons has opted for a pair of T-Bird soapbar pickups, each controlled by its own volume pot with a master tone to season to taste. 

The pickups are passive so no need to worry about keeping a stock of 9V batteries in your case. The black top hat controls with silver inserts look as though they have just been waiting around for this moment – they match the instrument perfectly.

The Pearloid Reverse Split Diamond inlays on the fingerboard are a nice minimalistic touch and tie the bass together.

Who wants to paint their face, climb into the Demon’s stage clothes and puke blood only to find the audience’s attention being commanded by the bass? Besides, once you plug this thing in you’ll soon discover that the G2 Thunderbird has other ways of commanding people’s attention.

Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird: Performance and verdict

Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird

(Image credit: Gibson)

The G2 Thunderbird is a pleasing nine-pound slab of mahogany that lacks not for an active preamp for brewing up a low-end storm. Just as the Thunderbird’s silhouette gives you the impression that it is in motion, its sound is immediate, punchy and animated – a bass in a hurry if you will. 

Those itching to see what it can do might want to pump up the volume on the rhythm pickup and cut loose. There’s a thump all right, and a plummy quality if you care to dial back the tone. With the tone on 10, however, it blends power with detail, allowing your more detailed basslines to pop off the ‘board. 

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Fender Geddy Lee Signature Jazz
The Rush frontman and bass legend's signature Jazz is one of the finest of the type you can buy. And as with the G2, you need not be a fan to get on board with its charms.

Rickenbacker 4003
This is an understated bass in a cool, classic way, and much of its history and mystique is still in place. The sounds are familiar and although it’s not suited to all musical genres or playing styles, the 4003 remains a classic. A formidable rock bass.

Many players will tell you that ebony helps with this snappy attack. Again, a bass in a hurry, unrelenting. Of course, a bass bearing Gene Simmons’ name would be expected to deal in his trademark tones, and while this is not the Grabber or Charlie LoBue model that those of us weaned on Alive! era Kiss would first associate Simmons with, it has all those classic sounds on tap. You can have hours of fun jamming Kiss standards.

Alternatively, you can start messing around with those individual pickup controls, using them to dial in a blend of rhythm and lead pickups, and finding some nice off-menu surprises, like Motown thump, jazzy woodiness, or even – if you set the EQ just right on your bass amp and ablate those mids – there’s borderline slap on the menu, which could be just the thing for the faux disco of I Was Made For Lovin’ You.

Or, just push your bass amp to the point of furry break up, hit the lights, and get on with the business of rocking out. It’s not cheap, but then it is a US-made Gibson, and it is one solid and seaworthy instrument.

MusicRadar verdict: The G2 Thunderbird is a beast of a bass guitar for unleashing your inner rock animal, and there are hidden depths in those tones, too. This is a premium instrument for players who are serious about making fun music.

Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird: The web says

'All in all, this first offering from G2 delivers on virtually every front, from the dazzling black diamond aesthetic through to playability and versatility. Perhaps most importantly of all, it’s a bass that’s tailor-made for conjuring this larger-than-life character’s earth-conquering tones. He is the God Of Thunder, after all."
Bass Player Magazine 

Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird: Hands-on demos



Norman's Rare Guitars

Gibson Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird: Specifications

Gibson's Gene Simmons G2 Thunderbird bass

(Image credit: Gibson)
  • BODY: Mahogany
  • NECK: Mahogany, 
  • SCALE: 34”
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, 12” radius
  • FRETS: 20, medium jumbo
  • PICKUPS: 2x T-Bird passive soapbar pickups
  • CONTROLS: 2 x Volume, Tone 
  • HARDWARE: Hipshot bridge and mini-clover tuners
  • WEIGHT: 9 lbs (approx)
  • CONTACT: Gibson

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