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2009 Epiphone Thunderbird Goth IV - Upgrade & Finish Touch-Up

This Epiphone Thunderbird Goth IV was brought to me after being bought second-hand. Its playability wasn't the best and I was asked to assess which improvements were needed.

The main red flags that my customer mentioned were the high action and the noisiness of the pick ups. The second one was easily fixed by copper-shielding the cavities, whereas the first one required a bit more time and a bridge replacement.

The factory bridge for the Thunderbird is a three-point bridge that is known for presenting a number of problems. The most common is that it easily lifts up, which was happening with this specific bass too. It would happen even more when moving from the round wound strings that were on it to a flat wound string set, which my client wanted to try. In fact, the higher string tension of the flat wound strings would accentuate the lifting problem.

Another thing that is not ideal about this particular bridge type, is that it only allows the saddles to move back and forward, which is a limitation when it comes to aiming for a precise set-up. Moreover, having these saddles narrow slots and a close tail-piece, most bass strings will end up with the silk part being on top of the saddles rather than past they, and this will position the strings further than they should be from the fretboard. For all these reasons, I recommended to replace the factory bridge with a Hipshot Supertone 3-point.

I didn't know that the Supertone was out of production, but that seemed to be the case when I looked for it online, as it seemed very hard to find. Luckily, after a few searches I managed to find it and have it shipped from the US, and when it arrived it sounded and looked as good as I thought.

Thunderbird with the new Hipshot Supertone bridge and flat wound strings installed.

While I waited for the bridge to arrive, I cleaned the fretboard and took care of the Electro-Magnetic Interference problem.

The fretboard, as it came in.

I enjoy copper-shielding cavities, so that was a nice task for me. Here is how the control cavity looked before and after the shielding (to which I added a shielding of one of the pickup cavities and a ground link between the two).

Before and after copper-shielding the control cavity.

While working on the electrics I also re-soldered a couple of connections and replaced the output jack.

The last thing that I was asked to look into was a shiny patch on the upper shoulder. The patch was very noticeable, as the body had a satin finish, so my mission was to make it disappear.

The damage to the satin finish (clearly visible also in the very first picture).

Fixing this damage was a delicate task which I tackled with super fine steel whool and a very light touch.

Stain removed (picture above and picture below).

The result was as good as I hoped and what was left was just to give the instrument a final set up.

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