Check out the Jack Casady Signature, the Thunderbird™ IV and the Toby™ Deluxe IV
Bass--it's one of the more deceptively difficult instruments to play well in popular music. But behind every great band is a great bassist. For decades, bass has been the instrument of choice for pop music's most innovative composers--among them Paul McCartney, Willie Dixon, Brian Wilson, and Sting. Our own Jack Casady all but invented the sound of California rock and soul in the 60s. Where would the Detroit sound be without James Jamerson or the Memphis sound be without Duck Dunn? Can you imagine Sly and the Family Stone without Larry Graham? Rush without Geddy Lee? Primus without Les Claypool? And then there's Lemmy, Flea and Jack Bruce, not to mention the Who's John Entwistle and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page who both used Epiphone basses (an EB and a Rivoli) on stage and in the studio. And let's not forget that in the 1940s and 50s when virtually every band in pop, jazz, rhythm and blues, and country carried an upright bass on the road, Epiphone was a leader then, too.
Today, Epiphone stands as perhaps the only giant of the music instrument world that can boast that their basses can be heard on a century of historic recordings in every genre of music including western swing, bop, rhythm and blues, salsa, rockabilly, rock and roll, the British Invasion, heavy metal, grunge, fusion, blues, and any other style you can name.
This month--traditionally the hottest month of the year--we're featuring some of Epiphone's top basses that are perfect for both beginners and pros alike: the Jack Casady Signature, the Toby Deluxe IV, and the Thunderbird IV. All three have a unique tone and a unique story, too. And all three are in action today (and tonight) all over the world.
Epiphone Jack Casady Signature Bass
Let's start with the Jack Casady Signature Bass which at this moment is probably not only in the hands of Mr. Casady himself but also Brian Ray from Paul McCartney's band, who is using his Jack Casady to play Beatle bass lines while McCartney is rocking out on his vintage 1962 Casino.
The Jack Casady Signature Bass was a longtime dream of Casady's going back to his early days with the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.
"In 1985 I was living in New York and happened to stop in a music store one day and saw a goldtop, full scale semi-hollow Les Paul bass," Casady told Epiphone.com. "I loved the bass but found the pickup to be deficient. It had a tendency to bleed out when too many other instruments were playing. I did a little investigating and found out that only about 400 of the instruments were made in 1972 and because it was kind of an odd duck, it didn't catch on."
"Epiphone's Jim Rosenberg was very interested and allowed me to kind of re-make the instrument. I told Jim that I'd like to develop a Jack Casady pickup for it and he hooked me up with the R&D Department."
The result was the Jack Casady Signature Bass --"a dream come true" for Casady and for many other bassists as well, including Dave Grohl, Dominic Davis (Third Man Records), Kevin Smith (Willie Nelson), and Brian Ray (Paul McCartney).
The Jack Casady Signature Bass features a maple body with a maple top in two stunning color finishes, Metallic Gold (MG) and Ebony (EB) and a limited edition Silverburst (SB). The hand-set mahogany neck has a 34" scale with a rosewood 12" radius fingerboard, a 1.65" nut, and Jack's signature on the headstock.
"I went to work on the pickup and it took almost two years to develop," says Casady. "I did a lot of homework and bench testing and finally when it clicked in right, it was great." The Jack Casady Signature bass features a JCB-1 low impedance, low output pickup. The Jack Casady bass also features a VariGain control for tone shaping.
The VariGain control is a 3-position impedance matching transformer used to match the JCB-1 low impedance pickups to the high impedance input of standard bass amps. Low impedance pickups offer improved frequency response and are much better at resisting noise. In practice, the three position VariGain control provides three distinctive tones by accentuating different frequencies and shifting the resonant peak of the pickups. The tonal range varies from full bodied to clear and sharp.
The Jack Casady Signature Bass features nickel hardware, classic style 19:1 ratio tuners, and a 3-point adjustable bridge exactly like what the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer uses on-stage. Casady insists that his own personal basses should be no different than any Jack Casady Signature you will find in a store. "Every year I get two new instruments that I take out on the road," says Casady. "No ringers. I have none that are set up a special way or anything like that and they are great. The workmanship that’s coming in on these instruments is just super."
Read more about the Jack Casady Signature Bass here.
Epiphone Thunderbird™ IV
Next up is a true iconic rock and roll classic, The Thunderbird™ IV. The original Thunderbird Bass was first issued from the legendary Kalamazoo factory in 1963 and was for a time the only bass available from Gibson or Epiphone. But really, what else could you need? The Thunderbird's unique "reversed" zig-zag body design and equally distinct headstock was the brainchild of legendary automotive designer and visionary Ray Dietrich who was enlisted by the Epi/Gibson Kalamazoo factory to bolster the electric guitar line and help solidify the factory's eminent rank among solidbody electric guitar manufacturers. The Thunderbird Bass was quickly embraced by rock and rollers in the States, the UK, and Europe and today, is still the ultimate rock and roll low-end machine.
The Thunderbird-IV features a mahogany body wings and a solid, bolt-on hard maple neck for amazing sustain and tone. The Thunderbird's SlimTaper™ profile neck has a 34" scale length and a rosewood fingerboard with a 12" radius and 20 medium jumbo nickel/silver alloy frets. The nut width is 1.73" for great string spacing and the body is finished in beautiful Vintage Sunburst.
The Thunderbird-IV features Epiphone's new Thunderbird humbucker pickups, which have proven to be one of the most versatile pickups for bassists on stage and in the studio.
Epiphone hardware is the envy of the industry and the Thunderbird™ IV features premium die-cast 17:1 bass machine heads, a 3-point full adjustable bridge, full function volume knobs and a master tone knob using full-size 500K ohm potentiometers, black hardware and a vintage style white pickguard with the classic Thunderbird logo.
Read more about the Thunderbird™ IV Bass here.
Epiphone Toby™ Deluxe IV
Much like the Jack Casady Signature and the Thunderbird IV, the arrival of the Epiphone Toby Deluxe IV radically changed the way bass players played and thought about their instrument. With its roots in the original designs of Michael Tobias first introduced over a decade ago, the "Toby" brought real innovation to modern bass players. And today, the Toby Deluxe IV is once again putting cutting edge sounds and style in the hands of bassists all over the world.
The Toby Deluxe IV features a solid basswood body and a flush-mount, low profile, adjustable bridge. The Toby Deluxe's most legendary feature is its hard maple Tobias™ Asymmetrical Neck profile, which is a bolt-on design with recessed bolts and washers for easy adjustments.
Tobias basses were among the first to feature an asymmetrical neck, a design where the neck is thinner on the lower side than on the upper side. The asymmetric back shape feels less bulky than standard bass necks allowing for maximum hand comfort. While these Satin finished necks might "feel" thinner, there is still sufficient thickness on the upper side to provide for excellent strength, stability and--best of all--deep, rich tone. Your thumb will find easy reference points as your hand glides up and down the fretboard. The neck has a 34" scale length for enhanced clarity, a rosewood fingerboard with a 12" fingerboard radius and a 1.68" nut. Satin finish options include Trans Amber, Trans Black, Trans Red, and Walnut.
The Toby Deluxe IV electronics feature classic Tobias-designed pickups with a Tobias SCR™ Split-Humbucker in the neck and a Tobias SCT™ Split-Humbucker at the bridge. Controls are all-metal knurled knobs and include Master Volume, Pickup Blend with center Detent, and Master Tone. Also included is an Active Tonexpressor™ Bass Enhancement Control which enables bassists the option of making creative blends. The Active Tonexpressor™ is also a powerful ally on stage when you need fine adjustments to cut through dense mixes. The Active Tonexpressor™ uses an easy-to-change 9-volt battery.
The Toby Deluxe IV features Epiphone's rock solid hardware including deluxe diecast tuners with a 17:1 ratio ensuring lifelong tuning stability. The bridge is flush-mounted for a low profile and is fully adjustable.
Read more about the Toby Deluxe IV Bass here.
Take a step back from the heat and cool down at your favorite Authorized Epiphone dealer this month and check out the Epiphone Jack Casady Signature, the Thunderbird IV, and the Toby Deluxe IV--- three of the all time great basses in the world today. And all of them affordable, professional, loud, and ready to play it cool.