Thumb SC 5-string Fretless Buckeye Burl Top #3288
The story of the Warwick Thumb bass begins back in the early 1980s. Taking the basic shape of the Streamer as a starting point, the original Thumb featured a radically smoothed and rounded outline, neck-through-body construction and a diminutive body designed to give users more freedom to move about on stage. The Thumb was eventually released in 1985 and has since become a permanent fixture among both funk and rock players. Over the years Warwick has continually updated the design, adapting the shape and upgrading the electronics. A version with a bolt-on neck and a lower price tag was released in 1994 and proved an instant hit, even taking precedence over the NT (or ‘neck-through’) model. The Masterbuilt Thumb SC we have here combines the company’s NT Thumb with a single cutaway design. The craftsmanship inherent in the smoothly sculpted design is immediately impressive and illustrates the kind of forward thinking that makes Warwick basses so desirable to the modern-day player. If you are already familiar with the opulent nature of Warwick basses then you will know just what we’re talking about, and even Warwick aficionados will be impressed with the added luxury of this custom shop model.
This latest five-string incarnation of the celebrated Warwick Thumb SC model has a great deal to offer – a fretless neck, MEC humbucking pickups and active EQ circuitry, and a look and feel that is natural and understated yet somehow strangely luxurious at the same time. In true Warwick style, this is a well-made, beautiful-feeling bass. The neck wood is flamed maple, and the neck-through-body design means this section, formed from nine laminated sections of maple and ekanga veneer stripes, extends the entire length of the body, from the headstock right through to the end strap button, and houses everything from the tuners and fretboard to the bridge hardware and pickups. The neck-through option undoubtedly compliments the elegant design and should also produce a more resonant tone when compared to a bolt-on neck. The body’s sides are made from figured swamp ash, with a 1-inch buckeye burl top. Swamp ash is a very light-weight wood, renowned in the guitar world for its resonance and clarity. The joins between these different sections are seamless, while the high polish oil finish brings out the contrast in the grains of the woods.
Buckeye burl tops are super lightweight and impart little or no tone to the instrument, but when it comes to building basses it’s not for the faint hearted. Burls are bulbous growths that can develop on the trunk or roots of certain types of tree. Usually caused by insect infestation or specific kinds of mould, burls cause deformation of the grain, producing a stunning figured pattern. There are around 15 different species of Buckeye Burl in Europe, Asia, USA and Mexico, but you will rarely find root parts that are extensive and large enough for building musical instruments.
The Thumb SC also packs a pair of passive MEC humbuckers that should ensure plenty of punch. These German pickups have a ‘soapbar’ design with square, flat edges that provide a perfect rest for your thumb. The active circuit is powered by rechargeable battery that can be charged via a USB cable without having to remove the wooden cover on the back of the body.Using the small switches near the bridge, the MEC pickups can be independently selected to run in series or parallel, or in single-coil mode. The sturdy Warwick bridge consists of two separate parts – a top-loading tailpiece to anchor the strings in place and a fully adjustable bridge unit that allows you to customise string height, intonation and spacing. It’s also fitted with a Fishman piezo system. This custom shop Thumb SC offers something completely unique to the bass playing public, but even without innovations like the rechargeable battery and the blue LED inlays, the quality of build and the functional aspects of the design make for an outstanding instrument.