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The Thunderbird Bass

Thunderbird

The Thunderbird debuted in 1963 as the bass companion to the original Firebird guitar series. The most highly respected of all Gibson basses, it was Gibson’s first long scale (34 inch) bass and was named after the giant bird of Native American folklore. It was a companion to the Firebird guitar.

Thunderbird Production dates

Reverse Thunderbird II & IV

1963-65

Non-Reverse Thunderbird II & IV

1965-69

BiCentennial Reverse Thunderbird IV '76

1976-79

Reverse Thunderbird IV

1987-date

Thunderbird Logos

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Click on a photo to see a larger picture

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A 1964 Thunderbird II - Reputedly owned by an uncle of the Kentucky Headhunters. This base is full of character-and a unique sound! The "II" is a one pick-up model, with the 2 pick-up known as the Thunderbird IV.  

Kentucky Headhunters Website

non-reverse 1966 Thunderbird II below, and a close-up of its head. This is one of  only 361 that were ever made. The scratchplates tended to shrink and warp, so were often cut as in this case. The case has "Basil Cooper" written on it. Was this bass once owned by the Diamond Rexx and Mary's Window bassist?
Thuderbird66head-cropped.jpg
For Sale on GibsonBassStore.com click photo below
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A 1976 "BiCentennial" Thunderbird IV in Tobacco Sunburst (below & right) -one of only 228 made that year!
Thunderbird76brownbody.JPG

1976 BICENTENNIAL THUNDERBIRD LOGO

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Thunderbird
Production
Numbers

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Model/Year
1963
'64
'65
'66
'67
'68
'69
T-Bird II
2
501

205

361

0

67

7

T-Bird IV
0
235

87

131

120

31

1964/5 Thunderbird IV Sound Clips

Click here to hear a 1964/5 TBird IV played by Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash, playing "Warrior" live in 1973.

And more recent Martin Turner & a TBird

The "76" Bicentenniel T-Bird IV was a reissue of the 1963-65 T-Bird IV, mainly made in 1976 and 1977. Production was:

Finish

1976

'77

'78

'79

Natural

Ebony

224

91

237

301

0

12

6

7

Tobacco Sunburst

White

228

0

605

127

0

9

8

0

Serial numbers are: 00 for 1976, 06 for 1977 and the 1st and 5th number identifies subsequent years, with 2nd, 3rd & 4th the day of the year.

1976 Thunderbird Sound Clips
(to hear a 1976 T'Bird, click on the links below)

1964tbirdbody.jpg
Close-up of the 1964 Thunderbird II. Clearly confused, the owner wrote 1962 (they were first made in 1963!) in indelible ink on the scratchplate-and stuck on a cloth rose. Well it was the era of peace and love-and it must have seemed a good idea at the time! Far out.......
1976sunbursttbirdincase-cropped.jpg

1976 "BiCentennial" Thunderbird IV in Tobacco Sunburst - above & left

1976tbirdfull.jpg
A 1976 "Bicentennial" Thunderbird IV in black-one of only 91 made that year!
Thuderbird76blackbodycut.jpg

See more Gibson Basses, available for sale, at www.gibsonbassstore.com

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