Red X Inlays
In keeping with the rebellious spirit of the Mötley Crüe bassist, the new Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird IV’s fingerboard is inlayed with exclusive red acrylic “X”s at the third, fifth, seventh and 12th frets. They are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers.
Two New Design TB Plus Ceramic Magnet Humbuckers
The pickups on the early Gibson basses of the 1960s remained unchanged for many years, undergoing only minor cosmetic modifications from time to time, but staying true to the originals’ sonic characteristics. The pickups in today’s Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird IV—two vintage-style TB Plus humbuckers—both capture and recreate the classic attributes of those early Gibson basses. The TB plus humbuckers are traditional hum-cancelling bass pickups with ceramic magnets. They are wax potted then filled with epoxy, producing a full frequency, heavy-bottom sound similar to pickups with a passive EQ, and delivering the huge, powerful bass tone the Thunderbird IV is renowned for. As with all Gibson pickups, every part is precisely manufactured at Gibson USA in Nashville, Tennessee, insuring tight, seamless fittings, and superior workmanship.
20-Fret Rosewood Fingerboard
Ebony has always graced the fingerboards of the world’s finest stringed instruments, including many of today’s Gibsons. The fingerboard on the Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird IV bass is constructed from the highest grade ebony on the planet. The ebony is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the factories to be fitted onto the neck of the Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird IV. The resilience of this dense and durable wood makes these fingerboards extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses.
Gibson Three-Way Adjustable Bridge/Tailpiece and Opti-Grab Bracket
Gibson’s innovative three-way adjustable bridge and tailpiece combo is the standard for simplicity and functionality. It provides players with the ability to adjust and fine-tune the height of the Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird IV’s bass strings in all directions—front, back, and side-to-side—which gives the bridge a “floating” feature, thus allowing the bass to be equipped with a variety of string gauges and multiple set-up options. The Nikkie Sixx Thunderbird’s powerful resonance, tone, and sustain is the result of anchoring the bridge directly into the body at its three adjustable points, which provides a firm seating for the strings and yields a strong union between the strings and body. Readily accessible screws make setting the intonation simple and unproblematic. To this day, Gibson’s three-way adjustable bridge remains an industry standard. It is the epitome of form and function in bass guitar bridge design. Next to the bridge is a custom Nikki Sixx-designed “Opti-Grab” bracket that he uses to hold the bass while roaming the monster Crue stage.
Neck-Through-Body Construction and Mahogany, Walnut and Maple Body
The Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird IV’s multiple-wood-ply construction is as structurally and aesthetically innovative as any Gibson feature. The neck and center piece of the body are constructed from mahogany and walnut, and two AA-grade maple wings are glued on to each side to form the bass’ distinct outline. Gluing all the pieces together insures maximum “wood-to-wood” contact, and allows the neck and body to function as a single unit. This neck-through-body construction results in better tone and unsurpassed sustain, and no loose or misaligned necks. The regimen involved in selecting the Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird’s wood and the formula to dry it out is closely controlled. First, the wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the factories. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees. This insures all woods are dried to a level of “equilibrium,” where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and controls the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to reducing the weight. It also improves the woods’ machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
The Nikki Sixx Signature Thunderbird’s distinct headstock stays true to Gibson’s industry-changing way of thinking. Like every Gibson headstock, the angled Nikki Sixx Thunderbird headstock is carved out of the same piece of mahogany as the neck. The angle is carefully set to 14 degrees—instead of the traditional 17 degrees—to accommodate the headstock’s radical contour and to keep pressure on the strings. The headstock’s form insures straight string pull, which, when combined with the increased string pressure, means there is no loss of string vibration between the corian nut and the tuners, equaling better sustain. Black chrome-plated Grover bass tuners provide the necessary clearance between tuner buttons, allowing for comfortable access and uncomplicated tuning.