Thunder

There are seven (7) models of Thunder basses:

1. Thunder I

Production

Matsumoku

Description

Body is laminated ash, maple and walnut.
If the finish is all red or all black the body is solid maple.

Specs

  • Single pickup
  • passive volume and tone controls
  • 3-ply maple neck
  • rosewood fingerboard

Thunder I bass front Thunder I bass backHeadstock

 

2. Thunder I-A

There have been at least 3 versions of this model.


Click here for Thunder I-A Manual

Production

Matsumoku to Jan 1987, 1981-9

Version 1

Specs

As shown in the 1981 and 1982/3 catalogues:

  • Westone script logo on the headstock (Which is slightly longer than on later versions)
  • plain brass knobs
  • Magnet F-600B pickup (1981 catalogue), HF600B pickup (1982/3 catalogue)

The 1982/3 catalogue lists available colours as Light Oak (Matt), Ash Black and Sunset Red (Gloss)

  • Body is laminated ash, maple and walnut (If the finish is all red or all black the body is solid maple)
  • 3-ply maple neck
  • rosewood fingerboard
  • brass nut
  • 34 inch scale
  • 20 frets
  • Single split-coil  pickup
  • Volume
  • active and passive tone controls
  • Active on/off and ‘Dual Tone’ switches
Thanks to Mark B for these photos:

Thunder I-A

Version 2 (1983-85?)

Specs

As shown in the 1983 catalogue:

  • Hard Puncher I pickup
  • W ‘Bird’ logo on headstock
  • headstock is shorter than on previous versions
  • Active tone knob etched with B-O-T as on some PEQ knobs (Source – 1985 review)

Available colours listed as Light Oak, Black and Apple Red. At some point a white finish was added

Thunder IA bass frontThunder IA bass back
Thanks to Lee Wormley for the following photos. This one dates from 1985:

Update March 2011: Thanks to Forum member bowenjaybe for pictures of his black 1985 (click to enlarge):

 

Thunder I-A

Version 3 (1985/6 onwards?)

Specs

The Thunder IA bass was in production until at least 1988 (Features in the 1988 pricelist).
We have seen a couple that seem to date from 1989, which implies that some later ones were made in Korea.

  • Different (Magnabass) pickup and chromed bridge
Update April 2010: Thanks to Forum member Bowenjaybee for this red 1986 model (click to enlarge):

3. Thunder II

Production

Matsumoku, 1981 until at least 1984, probably longer.

There are at least three different versions of this bass

Version 1 (1981-82)

As shown in the 1981 catalogue

  • 24 fret through neck
  • two split pickups
  • active controls
  • Body is solid Canadian ash
  • through-body heelless neck which is a laminate of maple and walnut
  • 24 frets
  • ebony fingerboard with snowflake inlay position markers
  • Two split-coil Magnet F675 pickups
  • 3-way selector switch
  • phase, ‘dual tone’ (Series/parallel) and active tone switches
  • Volume, active and passive tone controls
  • Brass nut
  • Brass saddles and bridge (Substantially more massive than the bridge on the Thunder I)
  • metal backplates (Anodised aluminum, not brass)
Thunder II A bass frontThunder II A bass back
Thunder II A bass front

Pictured below is  a 1981 model. The only difference between this one and the one above (Which is an early 1982 model) is the output socket,  an XLR connector. We know of one other 1981 Thunder II with an XLR socket.

According to the 1981 catalogue, the XLR connector was available as an option.
Colours available were originally Walnut and Savannah Yellow

1981 Thunder II1981 Thunder II

Thunder II

Version 2 (1982-3)

As shown in the 1982-3 catalogue, the specs are as above, except for:

  • 22 frets
  • P/J pickups (HF600B and SA800B)
  • Available in Ash Black and Walnut
  • This version was renamed the Thunder III  in 1983

Thunder II bass version 2

Thunder II

Version 3 (1983 on)

As shown in the 1983 catalogue.

  • Solid Maple body
  • 3-ply heelless built in Maple neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 22 fret
  • bone nut
  • Shorter (32.25 inch) scale length
  • 2 Super Boomer I pickups, 3 way selector, master volume and two PEQ tone controls.
  • Heavy duty brass bridge, chrome hardware
  • Available in Pearl Silver or Onyx

Thunder II bass version 3

4. Thunder II Fretless

Production

Matsumoku

Presumably (Like the fretted version) there are three (Possibly four) different versions of this bass

Version 1 (1981-82)

  • Body is solid Canadian ash, with a through-body heelless neck which is a laminate of maple and walnut
  • 24 frets
  • ebony fingerboard with snowflake inlay position markers
  • Two split-coil humbucker pickups with 3-way selector switch
  • Phase, ‘dual tone’ and active tone switches
  • Volume, active and passive tone controls
  • Brass nut, saddles and bridge (Substantially more massive than the bridge on the Thunder I)
  • anodised aluminum brass effect backplates
Thanks to Mark Hillmer for these photos

Thunder II fretless bass
Thunder II fretless bassThunder II fretless bass headstock 

Thunder II Fretless

Version 2 (1982)

  • 22 frets
  • active, P/J pickups
  • this version has exactly the same spec as the later Thunder III (See the 1982/3 catalogue for full details)

Thunder II Fretless

Version 3 (1983 on)

  • 22 fret
  • 2 pickup passive bass (See the 1983 catalogue for full details)

5. Thunder III

Version 1 (1983)

Click here for Thunder III Manual

Production

Matsumoku 1983 to ?

Specs

  • Body is solid Canadian ash, with a through-body heelless neck which is a laminate of maple and walnut
  • 24 frets
  • ebony fingerboard with snowflake inlay position markers
  • P/J style pickups with 3-way selector switch
  • Phase reverse, ‘dual tone’ (Series/parallel) and active tone switches
  • Volume, active and passive tone controls
  • Brass nut, saddles and bridge
  • anodised aluminium brass effect backplates
  • This bass is exactly the same as the second version of the Thunder II bass
Thunder III bass version 1

Thunder III

Version 2

The design changed sometime in the mid 1980s.  A few, like the one below have different (Magnabass?) pickups and black hardware. 

  • The body is Ash, Hard Maple through neck, Rosewood 22 fret fingerboard.
  • 2 Magnabass T pickups
  • Controls – 3 way pickup switch,  master volume, master tone, equalizer tone, coil tap(*), dual tone and active bypass switches
  • Magna Cast bridge, black hardware. Available in Walnut or Ash Black
  • (Info from the 1986 and 1987 German catalogues)

According to the 1987 review of the Thunder III fretless, the nut is graphite and the back plates are black plastic.

*this may be an error in the catalogue – there are several others. According to the 1987 review and the 1983 catalogue this was a phase reverse switch

Thunder III bass version 2Thunder III version 2 body

6. Thunder III Fretless

Production

Matsumoku

Description

Same specifications as the Thunder III fretted bass, and the second version of the Thunder II bass, but without the frets (obviously) and neck inlay position markers.

Specs

  • Body is solid Canadian ash, with a through-body heelless neck which is a laminate of maple and walnut
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Two split-coil pickups
  • 3-way selector switch
  • Phase reverse, ‘dual tone’ and active tone switches
  • Volume, active and passive tone controls
  • Brass nut, saddles and bridge , anodised aluminum brass effect backplates

Thunder III fretless frontThunder III fretless backThunder III fretless bodyThunder III fretless head

7. Thunder Jet

Production

Matsumoku 1984

Specs

Info from the 1984 catalogue

  • Solid Alder body
  • 3-ply Maple bolt-on neck
  • 34 inch scale
  • 22 frets
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • graphite nut
  • Single Hard Puncher I split pickup
  • volume and tone controls

At some point the design changed:
The 1987 review of the Thunder III fretless shows a guitar with black hardware, black plastic backplates, a graphite nut and Magnabass pickups.

Thunder Jet bass frontthunder Jet bass backThunder Jet bass headstock