Gibson Updates Thunderbird and SG Standard Basses for 2015

Next year will see the revamp of two classic Gibson basses including the SG Standard and Thunderbird bass models. Each of the basses will retain many of their features with improvements including a full contact bridge, thicker and smoother rosewood fingerboards, pearl inlays, comprehensive setups, upgraded output jacks, and more robust cables for improved signal strength.

Gibson 2015 Thunderbird Bass

The 2015 Gibson Thunderbird steps away from the company’s standard T-bird pickups and is fitted with a new set of Alnico V pickups. The humless set has two coil tap switches to offer up eight distinct sounds. Its 9-piece laminate mahogany and walnut neck is flanked with mahogany body wings, which Gibson says offers increased sustain. The 2015 Thunderbird will come in a Vintage Sunburst finish.

Gibson 2015 SG Standard Bass

Featuring a 30.5-inch scale, the 2015 SG Standard Bass is built with a mahogany body, mahogany neck, and an unbound rosewood fingerboard. The bass is loaded with a T-Bird Plus pickup in the neck position and a T-Bird Mini pickup in the bridge position for tonal versatility. Hardware includes max grip speed knobs, Grover shamrock tuners, and a 3-point adjustable bridge. The bass comes in Heritage Cherry Sunburst finished in a gloss lacquer.

The Gibson 2015 SG Standard and Thunderbird Basses will come with hardshell cases and carry street prices of $1,679 and $2,599, respectively.

Gibson 2015 Thunderbird Bass Specs:

Neck:9-ply multi-laminate Mahogany/Walnut
Body:Mahogany wings
Pickups:Alnico V bass pickups with two coil tap switches
Bridge:Full-contact three-point adjustable bridge

Gibson 2015 SG Standard Bass Specs:

Fingerboard:Unbound Rosewood
Pickups:T-Bird Plus (Neck), Vintage style T-bird mini (Bridge)
Bridge:Three-point, full-contact adjustable bridge
Tuners:Grover shamrock
Finish:Heritage Cherry in Gloss lacquer
Case:Hardshell Case included

For more information:

Get Bass Gear News in your inbox.

Stay up to date on the latest bass gear news (every Thursday).

Share your thoughts

  1. Jim Anzalone

    The Firebird look great and I’m sure the new pick-up rock but it is neck heavy and the neck is going to be hard to reach. Not a players bass.
    The SG is a short scale and the pick ups need to be changed.
    I am a big fan of Gibson and own an Explorer bass, so I’m speaking from experience.

    • Bob Gross

      You’re right Jim. While the T-Bird is a great sounding rock and roll bass, it doesn’t balance well. The SG, formerly known as the EB3, is next to useless as far as I’m concerned. 30″ scale combined with an incredibly bottom heavy pickup in the neck position makes for a very muddy sound with no definition.

      • Daniel Sudhoff

        Tell that to Jack Bruce. SG Basses have a lovely sound that is a very usable rock and roll tone.

        • jason macneil

          Jack Bruce preferred the bridge pickup for most of his work using an EB3 with cream. Still very mucky and undefined (especially with over-driven marshall amps) but definitely tighter than that neck pickup. The tone was very usable for what Cream was doing, but in most modern rock settings it’s really an acquired taste. That’s not to say it won’t work, but you can’t expect a whole lot of punch and treble out of it.
          Having said that, the current neck pickup, or TB Plus, on these SG basses sounds nothing like the old ‘mud bucker’ on the original EB series from the 60s. Still very heavy in the low mids, because of its style and neck position on a short scale mahogany instrument, but I find it more usable than the old one.

          Nice to see those subtle changes in the Thunderbird but not enough to make me want to run out and buy a new one. And the changes in the SG? New bridge and some slightly re-phrased marketing of the exact same bass. Not that any change was necessary. But Gibson needs to step it and actually offer something new, if that’s what they’re trying to sell.

          I don’t see any reason to change either of those basses (I have both of them and they’re great – for what they are). But hey, what do I know.

          • Enrique

            I had an old EB3 back in 1981 and it was indeed “muddy”. When I rebuilt it, I put in Dimarzio replacement p/us, a better bridge (Schaller), and reconfigured the wiring- all to get a sound that was pleasing albeit not Gibson-like. My recently-purchased SG bass, however, sounds pretty pleasing right out of the box, although I’d like to get that Babicz full-contact
            bridge replacement. I tend to like short-scale basses and I am willing to work around their tonal challenges.

          • Jim McNeill

            I own a 1969 EB3 which I removed the bridge pickup and replaced it with a 1970 Precision pickup and both pickups compliment each other very well. Very warm bottom and snappy highs

    • Low

      The thunderbird is definitely a player s bass.
      the neckdive thing isn’t an issue once you r used to it.I’m totally comfortable playing my T-bird for hours. The neckdive and the stretch Is an issue for me with my explorer bass.
      the problem with the explorer is the position of the neck joint.on the T-bird (and on my Westone raider) the neck joint is at the 17th fret this for me is the optimal balance point comfort wise on a pointy bass when standing to play. (Well the perfect balance point is actually the 12th fret upper horn strap button on a fender p bass.cause Leo got it right from the start. But I like my T-birds better anyway) the problem with the explorers and many other pointy basses (including Nikki sixx new schecter signature model)is the neck joint is at the 20th fret.pushing the neck further out of the body does negatively impact the balance even more. And it can make the stretch to first fret a stretch.

    • Albert Munk

      The issue of neck dive is very easy to eliminate. Just move the straplock form the end of the body (the one near the bridge that is) towards the backside and middle of body and you get perfect balance. I’ve done it and it works.

    • Played sg today. Sounded really great. To my ears a lot different than the 2014 sg special bass(cheap one). No idea why.

  2. David Doyle

    I kinda want too own a T-Bird again now

  3. How different is the 2014 SG Bass to the new 2015? I have a 2014.

    • jason macneil

      it seems to be the exact same bass, aside from a new bridge.

      • Enrique

        I contacted Guitar Center and they told me they knew nothing of Babicz bridge replacements for the 2014 SGs.

    • RndMdnight

      Seems the same to me as well. I have a 2014 SG Special that seems identical on all the specs except for the finish.

      • Enrique

        The older EB3s and SGs had that hard-as-rocks lacquer (or enamel), and it was a bear to remove when refinishing. The nitrocellulose finish on the newer Special SG is a more fragile finish even though it looks appealing to me, especially with the “chocolate” models, which tend to accentuate the natural mahogany. Perhaps this is the difference in cost between the two models.

  4. clint

    Still no Gibson Les Paul bass signature reissue? Best best they produced and they ignore it..what a crime!

  5. Simon

    I love my Thunderbirds, but got to be honest, I like neither the over-size bridge, the music-man pickups, nor the excessive Gibson range price hike. On the other hand, they are now coming Plek’ed and good to hear they’ve finally sorted the jack-socket!
    On balance, the botched looks, and ott price hike, I’ll give it a skip and seek out a classic – make room on the ‘bay…

  6. Freuds Cat

    The T-bird plus pups have been some of the best sounding pickups I’ve ever used. These new ones are gonna have to be good to beat them. I would love to see the re-introduction of the 2 piece bridge on the Thunderbird. IMO it gave the T-bird more tone.

    As for the SG (EB3) why are they putting T-bird pups on such a distinctive bass? Bring back the Mudbucker I say!
    Anyone who thinks these basses have a bad sound is not doing it right. ;-)

    • Enrique

      And just how does one “do it right”? I admit that sound versatility must extend to the kind of sound one likes as well as to the kind of amplification he prefers. I am a fan of tube preamps/poweramps and isobaric speaker systems. I am partial to Ampeg SVT heads and some Carvins with “hybrid” systems (i.e., 12AX7-powered preamps). At the moment I cannot afford the Orange bass head and iso cab that I want (Santa are you listening?). The variable EQ, compression and bypassable tube preamp on my Carvin practice amp seems to make
      the 2014 SG bass sound pretty good. I did have to replace the factory round wounds with D’Addario half-rounds to cut down on finger noise. The older EB3s I remember had flatwounds, which probably added to the “muddy”. I had used D’Addario half-rounds on my older EB3 and got good results so I gambled on a set for this new 2014. Now I have the sound I want for blues and country. Perhaps I am doing it right after all!

  7. Bob

    I knew something looked a little off about that T-Bird. Can it still be called a T-Bird if it doesn’t have the signature humbuckers?

  8. There’s no way those are the correct street prices, those are list. People are going to very surprised by them doing away with the 3 point bridge system on the Thunderbird.

      • That’s murder. Maybe they’re trying to intimidate people so they’ll buy up old Epiphone stock. I’m so lucky I found a 2005 Gibson Thunderbird new/unused two years ago for $1400.

    • They lowballed me on the sg at gc. Mark up must be enormous.

  9. butch

    the thunderbird hasn’t had decent pickups since 77 they sound very dull,every other bass i have owned sounded better(i bought a mid 90’s one once),the pickups i had put in my 73 gibson sb-450 are modeld around those 76-77 Tbirds and sound amazing,i havn’t heard the new (Eb style)ones but they gotta be better…….the bridge is just going modern and can’t be bad,especially for set up,……the other changes are probably all for the better,keep the look but improving the rest is great…… take the SG bass make it regular scale and move/change those pickups and you’ll have another winner,people love the look of both but they have lacked great sound for a long time,and the SG(EB-3) never sounded great

  10. Tomas

    Well, I love my SG bass! It is very easy to play and sounds smooth and fat with some flatwounds!