The Gibson Thunderbird is an electric bass guitar made by Gibson and Epiphone. The Gibson Thunderbird was introduced in 1963. At the time, Fender had been the leader in the electric bass market since their introduction of the Precision Bass twelve years earlier.
The Thunderbird was designed by U.S. auto designer Raymond H. Dietrich (Chrysler, Lincoln, Checker) along with the Firebird guitar, which it resembles in design, construction, and name.
In 1966, Gibson changed the Thunderbird's design and construction. The original Thunderbirds (and Firebirds) had a "reverse" body, with the treble horn extended and the bass horn recessed. Due to a lawsuit brought by Fender because of the resemblance to the Fender Jazzmaster, the body styles were modified, with the result being called the "non-reverse" body.
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