Opposable Thumbs

For many years, my main axes were a pair of four string Warwick Thumb basses I like to call my Opposable Thumbs. Here are some poorly scanned pictures (I’m working on improving the scans, but trust me, these are gorgeous basses).

1990 Fretless Thumb Neck Through

1989 Fretted Thumb Neck Through



These basses sound and play incredibly, and the fretless has probably the warmest and most singing fretless tones I’ve heard. They are fantastic in the studio; I basically plug them straight into the board, add a tiny bit of compression and go. They are excellent for live gigs too, although due to the bubinga bodies they are pretty heavy. I don’t mind the weight of the 4s too much, but the Thumb 5s are just too heavy for me. You gotta be a monster to play a Thumb 6!

The fretless has a Hipshot Bass Xtender key on the E string tuning peg. This is similar to the one on the back of my other 4 stringers. Since the headstocks on the Thumbs are particularly compact, a standard Hipshot won’t fit them. Fortunately David Borisoff of Hipshot is a very nice guy who has custom built the one on the fretless, and a different one on the fretted (installed after this picture was taken).

The fretless is actually my second Thumb. In 1990 I played a friend of mine’s Warwick Thumb fretless 4 that was nearly identical to this one. I loved it so much, I immediately bought one just like it, and switched to mostly fretless. Sadly in 1994, this bass was stolen, along with my friend’s fine Warwick Streamer fretted 4, and another friend’s ‘68 Strat. A very painful day indeed.

Fortunately, my bass was insured, and I was able to obtain a brand new, 1990 fretless, as pictured here. All three fretless Thumbs were basically identical; in fact they were all built the same year and were very close in serial number. Imagine that!