Epiphone Thunderbird Neck Dive Fix


Problem Background

I love the look of the Gibson Thunderbird bass. Since it's also a very expensive piece of equipment, I settled for the more affordable replica from Epiphone for now.

One problem with this bass is the so-called neck dive. The weight of the instrument is very badly balanced, and you have hold the neck up with your fretting hand all the time to keep it from dropping towards the floor. This makes playing awkward, and you may get tired in your fretting hand after a while. Also, one of the buttons was at a really bad angle, so when I held the bass in what I considered to be the most comfortable playing position, the strap would sometimes come loose and I almost dropped the whole bass!

I found that this problem almost made the bass unplayable for me in the long run. Fortunately, I knew of a solution.

The Solution

New strap button

After I added a new strap button to the neck heel of the bass, as shown in the picture above. Using this button instead of the standard one makes the bass much more well balanced, and there is no neck dive even when I remove both hands from the bass.

The angle of the new button is also much better, so the strap should be kept in place. Just to be sure, I installed a Schaller straplock button (a special strap button that locks into another small part that you fasten to your strap).

Thanks to Dude at Vintage Bass Trading Co for information on the modification. He usually puts a new strap button on the other end of the bass body as well, but I found that this wasn't necessary in my case. I guess the wide leather strap I use helps in keeping the bass in place.

An Alternative Tip

If you don't want to drill a new hole in your bass, you can try what Ahmet Tekneci did. He simply replaced one of the neck screws on the back with a longer one and put a strap button through it. This was enough for him to get his bass balanced, although he also uses a home-made strap with velcro for more stability.

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