Posts Tagged ‘Gibson Thunderbird’

Tenuous link with stardom department

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

When I’m not writing about matters travel or outdoors, or planning my forthcoming escapade on Circumnavigation Record 2011‘s attempt on the round the world powerboat record, I have a fun little pastime – I play bass guitar in a rock band. In what seems like a former life, I played in a Norfolk rock band called Spiny Norman, and we came close – very close – to hitting the big time.

Clive Tully playing his Gibson Thunderbird during a live broadcast of a 40th anniversary Jimi Hendrix tributeThese days it’s a hobby, expensive at times, but playing with Firewire fulfils my urge to get up in front of a crowd of people and make a lot of noise. I’ve been through several basses, but my longest serving instrument is a limited issue 1976 bicentennial edition Gibson Thunderbird, bought in 1977. I don’t play it so much these days, as I tend to stick with the even more limited edition John Entwistle tribute Alembic Spyder which I’ve had for the last couple of years. But the one thing about the Thunderbird, which many have remarked upon over the years, is the awesome growl that it makes.

So when my old friend Steve Ayers, whose rock band Fourplay I’ve depped with on many occasions, asked if he could take some technical readings from my Thunderbird, I was only too happy to oblige. Amongst other things, he repairs and modifies guitars and amplifiers, and it transpired he’s been doing some work for the recently reformed The Darkness, playing at the UEA Waterfront in Norwich on Sunday, and the Download Festival the following Friday.

Their bass player, Frankie Poullain, has a Gibson Thunderbird of around the same vintage, but it seems it hasn’t been making that characteristic Thunderbird growl, hence Steve’s once-over of my instrument. He checked the output from the pickups, but somehow I suspect he’ll find that it boils down to the fact that I have my tail pickup extremely close to the strings. So if you happen to see The Darkness at one of their forthcoming concerts, and you think “wow, that bass sounds awesome”, it’s because people have been telling me that for years!