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So, early Warwick Thumb.....why not to buy?

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Well, this isolation is playing havoc with my GAS. And what do I have GAS for? A few things, but I’d really love an early Thumb bass (around ‘87, ‘88 period). It’s a while since I played one but all the ones I’ve played over the years have had fabulous pencil-thin necks, punchy midrange growl, and have been relatively light and extremely tactile. And it’s one of the few basses a I’ve lusted after and never owned. 
 

So why not buy? Well, the neck sticks out about 400 yards and they can be head heavy, and the string spacing is a bit wider than I like (cant remember what the Schaller equipped ones adjust to but I think it’s something like 17mm minimum). But otherwise, awesome. So, give me reasons not to buy one, money aside (that’s a separate stumbling block)!

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Reason 1. The top horn looks like a marital aid.

Reason 2. The tuners look like they were put on by a well known eBay improver.

Reason 3. They probably sound great and play nicely but you will always be thinking of reason 1 or 2 or both.

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See, I like how they look. Obviously your mileage definitely varies.😉

 

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One of the few times I ever special ordered a bass for someone when I worked in a shop and didn’t get it.

Just...don’t get them. And I was a Warwick player then too.

Wonder where my corvette is 😂

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31 minutes ago, AndyTravis said:

One of the few times I ever special ordered a bass for someone when I worked in a shop and didn’t get it.

Just...don’t get them. And I was a Warwick player then too.

Wonder where my corvette is 😂

See it’s the sound and the neck, I love ‘em. 

Must admit I wonder where my original ‘91 Dolphin went. The bassist from 100 Reasons bought it but I saw it a few years later on eBay again. That was a great bass, if a bit heavy. 

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I've owned (cough) a 'few' Thumb basses over the years and yes the early ones are that bit different and special; never had neck dive on early ones and the tone is all of its own.  I have one purely to play in the house (LukeFRCs 85 JD bass) which is ridiculous but I can't get away with the standing / strap position!  

Luckily the prices rarely fluctuate so you'd not lose money on one (once you've saved up)!  :)  

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1 hour ago, Low End Bee said:

Reason 2. The tuners look like they were put on by a well known eBay improver.

Except Warwick did it a vaguely sensible way instead of angling the furthest tuners away from the player!

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1 hour ago, warwickhunt said:

I've owned (cough) a 'few' Thumb basses over the years and yes the early ones are that bit different and special; never had neck dive on early ones and the tone is all of its own.  I have one purely to play in the house (LukeFRCs 85 JD bass) which is ridiculous but I can't get away with the standing / strap position!  

Luckily the prices rarely fluctuate so you'd not lose money on one (once you've saved up)!  :)  

I sit down anyway, so the standing/strap position is really a non-issue, thankfully. 

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56 minutes ago, DoubleOhStephan said:

Buy one. 

I've got a '97 Corvette, the neck is wonderful. 

I’ve had a few Warwicks before - 2 Dolphin Pro 1s (‘91 & ‘96) a Dolphin Pro II and a Streamer Stage 1 (‘91 IIRC) off the top of my head - but the necks on the early Thumbs are my favourites because they’re so slim. The Dolphin Pro II Pro II was quite similar. I also have an old Alien acoustic with a similar super-slim neck, nothing like the later ones I’ve played. 

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I've always loved Thumbs. Great looking, great sounding and nice to play. I never found the ergonomics and issue and in fact, generally found them to be quite pleasant to hold and wear. Those curved edges are so nice to handle and play over. In a world where many basses are a pastiche of other ideas or an outright copy, the Thumb still really does it's own thing. 

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I spent many a Saturday morning looking at and lusting after these in Carlsbro in Nottingham in the late eighties (along with Trace stacks and Birdseye speckled Stingrays of course).

Fast forward to about 4 or 5 years ago and I finally got to try one for the first time. A friend of a friend was selling an ‘89 (or possibly ‘88) model and he loaned it to me for a day or two to try it out. I was so disappointed with it, gutted.  To me it felt uncomfortable, unwieldy and all just a bit lifeless. I really didn’t like it at all. 😟

But hey, many people love ‘em and the world would be a pretty boring place if we all liked the same gear. If you like them, go for it.

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I've gassed occasionally for a Thumb 5, I like the look and I like the sound. But when I actually play one they feel dead to me.  I can't feel much resonance and I end up feeling disappointed.

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I've owned 3 Thumb basses, 2 being from the late eighties. The vintage Thumbs are a world apart! Never had an issue with neck dive or a problem with the weight, even playing long sets with them. I love the 'organic' feel to them and the body is a work of art, like a beautiful wooden sculpture and the necks are perfection. Being a big bloke they did look tiny on me but the curved body did rest comfy on the beer gut. 👍

 

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, warwickhunt said:

I've owned (cough) a 'few' Thumb basses over the years and yes the early ones are that bit different and special; never had neck dive on early ones and the tone is all of its own.  I have one purely to play in the house (LukeFRCs 85 JD bass) which is ridiculous but I can't get away with the standing / strap position!  

Luckily the prices rarely fluctuate so you'd not lose money on one (once you've saved up)!  :)  

You mean my old one? 
_DSF8549.thumb.JPG.1b35975411b9c042ecab7195d84f6d4e.JPG_DSF8550.thumb.JPG.d5bd92fc605b67116b456b1028679869.JPG_DSF8551.thumb.JPG.06cfac36e84a095552ac4afe87970bd1.JPG_DSF8552.thumb.JPG.e371407095bb0f0d217237ef82b2d04e.JPG_DSF8553.thumb.JPG.b8eb378458b93334273ac2f291dc6021.JPG_DSF8555.thumb.JPG.54be040618debeeb4b1754e0ed7f935b.JPG_DSF8556.thumb.JPG.0d237152953559b4d7461f89c67d2bb3.JPG_DSF8558.thumb.JPG.90d7b102b632e875ef1b38b2e5f6016b.JPG 

 

what a sound. @4000 if I were you (and seeing you play sat down) keep pestering @warwickhunt till he sells it to you (might take a while) 

Edited by LukeFRC
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I bought my ‘89 5 in 97. I had been lusting after any Warwick for years and I would probably have bought any model. This one has stayed with me since then. It is heavy but that’s never been a problem for long gigs and I am tall so I have never had an issue with the issue of reaching the 1st fret which the Internet seems to be obsessed about. 

I have nowhere the experience with different Warwicks like Warwickhunt but I have played my Thumbs in all styles and settings and they always fit in. I have an 89 6 fretless and that bass is the best sounding bass I have ever touched. It is the combination of being fretless and also the Bartolini pickups. 

I have played these basses in quiet acoustic setting, jazz combos, classic rock and metal. What I find sets them apart from other basses is how it responds to right hand technique more than other basses. 

And as you said yourself the necks are quite something else. The neck on the 6 is even better than on the 5. 

But all this is of course my opinion and others will have very different tastes from me and disagree greatly. 

Lastly I just want to say I have not played other Thumbs than my two and never tried a bolt on. And my main gigging bass has been the last few years 91 stage 2 5 which I think is fantastic bass but OP asked about Thumbs. I did though rotate my 5 Thumb with the SS2 to keep it interesting. 

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1 hour ago, bassbora said:

I have played these basses in quiet acoustic setting, jazz combos, classic rock and metal. What I find sets them apart from other basses is how it responds to right hand technique more than other basses.

+1 I find this with my Streamer (also Bartolini pups) the amount of tonal differences I can get is outstanding. 

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2 hours ago, bassbora said:

I bought my ‘89 5 in 97. I had been lusting after any Warwick for years and I would probably have bought any model. This one has stayed with me since then. It is heavy but that’s never been a problem for long gigs and I am tall so I have never had an issue with the issue of reaching the 1st fret which the Internet seems to be obsessed about. 

I have nowhere the experience with different Warwicks like Warwickhunt but I have played my Thumbs in all styles and settings and they always fit in. I have an 89 6 fretless and that bass is the best sounding bass I have ever touched. It is the combination of being fretless and also the Bartolini pickups. 

I have played these basses in quiet acoustic setting, jazz combos, classic rock and metal. What I find sets them apart from other basses is how it responds to right hand technique more than other basses. 

And as you said yourself the necks are quite something else. The neck on the 6 is even better than on the 5. 

But all this is of course my opinion and others will have very different tastes from me and disagree greatly. 

Lastly I just want to say I have not played other Thumbs than my two and never tried a bolt on. And my main gigging bass has been the last few years 91 stage 2 5 which I think is fantastic bass but OP asked about Thumbs. I did though rotate my 5 Thumb with the SS2 to keep it interesting. 

I’ve played quite a lot of Thumbs over the years. I remember when the first ones appeared in the Bass Centre in the ‘80s, I couldn’t get my head round them at all. I’d never seen an oil/wax finished instrument before, for a start, and it felt so strange.

The one thing I have found is that I much prefer the earlier ones, pre-‘90s. Thinner necks, thinner bodies IIRC, generally lighter weight, and to me they just sound better. 
 

I was watching YouTube the other day and there was a guy playing a fretless Thumb 5 (think it was a 5, could’ve been a 6) and it just sounded sublime.....not that I’m currently after a fretless. FWIW my preference on every fretless I’ve ever played - not just Warwicks - has been a Wenge neck.

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1 minute ago, 4000 said:

The one thing I have found is that I much prefer the earlier ones, pre-‘90s. Thinner necks, thinner bodies IIRC, generally lighter weight, and to me they just sound better. 

Some point between 1992 (when I heard they had) to 1995 (when Wikipedia says they did) they moved the factory from Bavaria to Markneukirchen in former East Germany...

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What year were the 5s introduced? 

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Regarding the oil and wax finish... Waxing down a Warwick is very therapeutic! I had a maple bodied Streamer LX, decent bass but had to sell it to raise funds for a training course. To me though Warwick should always be bubinga, ovangkol neck, wenge board.

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