Up for sale, a 1964 Gibson Thunderbird II, signed by John Entwistle and in perfect working order. As Gibson's first long scale bass and a companion to the Firebird line of instruments, this Thunderbird mirrors its Firebird brethren in both its exceedingly short late 1963-mid 1965 production run and particularly small production totals. With a radical body shape and visually impactful appointments, the Thunderbird was designed by Ray Dietrich, a Detroit auto designer who was coaxed out fo retirement by Gibson's Ted McCarty to invigorate Gibson's design team with a bold, new look.
With its neck through body construction, impressive visual footprint and single humbucking pickup, this Thunderbird II is always big and never apologetic. The mahogany/walnut neck through construction yields plenty of deep low end power and thickness, with a nice growl when played closer to the bridge. When plucked closer to the neck, the tone is pillowy yet authoritative. Overall, this Thunderbird offers smooth sustain, clarity and growl without being overly barky in a mix.
Arguably the most unique aspect of this instrument is the signature present directly below the wooden thumbrest. No player is more indelibly linked with the Thunderbird model than The Who's John Entwistle, and the pickguard bears his name. Signed by Entwistle in '98 during one of his solo tours, the bass is accompanied by the original show flyer where the bass was signed. An instrument that's been out of circulation since 1995, this Thunderbird is a soulful and inspiring example weighing 8lbs 13oz and dialed in with roundwound 45-100 strings and comfortable action.
The neck has a slender C shape at the nut, gaining more shoulder and roundness up the Brazilian rosewood fretboard, while still achieving an overall effortless shape that doesn’t get too chunky in any register. The profile measures .772" deep at the 1st fret, filling out to .958" at the 12th fret. The stock fretwire is intact and the original frets have good meat and height, showing light, uniform wear beneath all strings on frets 1-8, with sparingly little wear further up the fretboard. The scale length is a full 34" and the nut measures 1 1/2" in width.
The headstock does have an older repair, typical for most Thunderbirds (few have survived the decades unscathed), and the repair is structurally sound, having held tension with ease for decades. There is black overspray across the back of the headstock and down the neck profile until fret 3. The serial number is still visible, and the original nickel plated tuning machines are intact and function as intended.
On the body, the stock electronics work as intended, with original CentraLab pots that date to the 34th week of 1963 and untouched solder joints. The original pair of amber reflector cap knobs are intact (silver caps no longer present), and the stock hardware includes the original nickel plated tailpiece, bridge, pickup ring and cover, and pair of pickup and string covers. There's light, uniform patina on the nickel, contrasting nicely with the warm ambered center of the original nitro lacquer Sunburst finish which transitions to a deep reddish brown at the body edges. The finish has tight horizontal lacquer checking, with various dings, finish scratches, and light buckle worming, mostly centered on the back below the subtle belly carve. The edges of the slab body have their fair share of nicks and small dings, the most significant of which is just south of the Thunderbird silkscreen on the guard on the treble side of the body. In contrast, the neck profile shows minimal wear and is quite smooth.
The original hardshell case is included. Two complete latches are intact, with two additional partial latches. The handle is still secured on one end, and the case has a clean gold interior.
A note on shipping: Shipping in the continental USA will be $275, fully insured and shipped via FedEx Two Day. Expedited shipping available for an additional fee at buyer's request. We will happily ship WORLDWIDE, but please contact us for an accurate international shipping quote before bidding or buying, as cost varies by buyer location.