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Firebird Conundrum

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
552
I've been thinking about getting a Firebird lately. One of the stores near me has a 2015 Firebird V on closeout that I've gone in and played a few times. I liked how it plays and sounds, although I haven't tried it on a strap yet. I didn't mind the wide neck since I have pretty big hands, but this is the first Firebird I've played for more than a couple of minutes so I don't really have a basis for comparison to how a Firebird neck "should" feel. I've read all the threads on pickup swaps for Firebirds, so take it as a given that I will likely swap the stock Gibson pickups out somewhere in the future no matter what 'bird I end up with.

Here's my problem: while the price on this is good and not much more than used Firebirds seem to go for, the 2016 Firebird T is already listed for sale and would be a few hundred dollars less than what I could get this 2015 for, especially if I order one with a coupon somewhere. I pointed this out in the store when I was trying to get a bit more off, and the response back was that the 2015 was now priced basically at cost +5% or something like that and they couldn't go any lower. I walked out the other day without buying it, but I'm still wondering if I should go back for it.

After some research, it looks like the main differences between the 2015 and 2016 models are:
  • 2015 has the wide neck & zero fret nut (doesn't really bother me, adjustable nut might even be a plus), 2016 has traditional nut width and plastic(?) nut
  • 2015 comes with hard case, 2016 with gig bag
  • 2015 has the jack on the side of the guitar, not the top right next to the controls
  • 2015 has 500k pots for all controls and discrete wiring (confirmed this in store), 2016 Gibsons have the PCB
  • 2015 has an upgraded bridge with titanium saddles, not sure if this carried over to 2016
  • 2015 has Plek setup, not sure if this carried over to 2016
There are definitely some specs that are better on the 2015, especially the fact that it comes with a case. Gibson doesn't seem to have specs for the 2016 models online anywhere that I can find, so I've had to piece the 2016 specs together and maybe some of the improvements like the bridge carried over. My problem is I can't decide if it's worth hundreds of additional dollars for the "improvements," or if I'm better off ordering a 2016 with a 15% off coupon somewhere. What sayeth the hive mind?
 

schristie

Member
Messages
1,216
I wouldn't expect the 2015 to hold value based on the general consensus against the wider neck & zero fret.
 

Tim Plains

Member
Messages
5,836
I'm pretty sure all USAs get a plek and have for several years now.

I live in Canada. For comparison, our version of Guitar Center has 2016 Firebirds at $1,450. 2015s are $1,375.

You live in a large city. Can't you find a used Firebird on Craigslist and go try it out? Otherwise, if you like that 2015, can you put it on hold until you do try another?

I don't normally consider resale when buying guitars but it's hard not to with the 2015s since 75% of your potential buyers will not go near them.
 

jklotz

Member
Messages
3,756
Really boils down to the neck, IMHO - I never played a 2015 FB, but I didn't get along with the wide necks Gibson used for the 2015's (that I played), so I'd have to get a 2016. If you liked it, and weren't concerned about resale value, then it might be a decent deal for you. Those FB cases are HUGE and substantial, at least mine from 2012 is.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
11,514
Honestly I'd look for a used early 2000's they have the abr not the Nashville,I like the classic front jack and banjo tuners. I was looking at the new ones in GC and the body looks thicker on the end by the jacks almost as if to accommodate the side jack.Tip on straps, if the neck drops put it over the back fin and that will help balance it.
 

DrumBob

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
17,275
The '16 Firebirds are selling for $1099, and you can find them cheaper if you shop around, or use a coupon at GC. They have the classic specs that were absent in '15. As far as playing one with a strap, the older models with banjo tuners had serious neck dive, so Gibson stopped using those and have gone to something else. I have a 70's Studio Tribute Firebird, and it's a great guitar, except for the ceramic mini humbuckers.
 

sa1126

Member
Messages
2,496
Get the 2016. With my 15% off coupon I can get it for $934 from guitar center. I paid $1200 for my 2005 used two years ago...
 

p19978

Member
Messages
1,946
The 2015 necks are REALLY different.

I just played a bunch of them at the GC in Nashville yesterday; I didn't even bother to plug any of them in.

Having said that, your opinion is the only one that matters.
 

urizen

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,783
Non-reverse with 3 P-90s---and Gibson's P-90s still get respect.
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,776
They're not accepting coupons for the 2016, I tried.

I preordered the 16 instead of picking up a 15 that was in the store. I'll have 45 days to return it for a full refund so we'll see.
 

sa1126

Member
Messages
2,496
^ my coupon code worked--pm me if you want it. took it down quite a bit on the guitarcenter.com site.
 
Messages
2,703
get the 2016... or look used. I also think the Steinberger tuners (not banjo) is a serious advantage while the hard case is not. The cases are huge.. finding a nice gig bag or tight fit case might be ideal.
 

Larry Mal

Member
Messages
1,624
The 2016 has great specs and a great price. No reason not to get that one. The gig bag is kind of lame, and the single color is also (although it's the one I have), but if you can live with that it's a hell of a guitar for the money. I debated buying a second one, well, a third, really. But that's crazy, right? Right? Right?
 

gibsonES330

Member
Messages
878
If you have big hands and like large necks, maybe save up for a used Custom Shop model? The USA ones are not bad guitars (I've owned a couple), but the CS models have much more substantial necks.
 

Flash 442

Member
Messages
249
I stopped in my local Sam Ash yesterday they had 2 2016 Firebirds in stock and sold both already, salesman said they nice guitars.
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
552
Update: I was working from home last Friday and decided to go to the La Mesa Guitar Center at lunchtime since it's normally too far for me to get there from my office in Carlsbad during the week. They had a used 2013 Firebird that had just come in and been put on the wall the day before. I spent a good amount of time playing it and it was definitely better than the 2015 I tried at the other store. It was marked at $1399, which seems high to me considering the 2016 is only $1099, but it made up my mind on the neck width.

I'm going to keep my eye out for a 2016 to hit one of the local shops. I just saw that we're finally getting a Sam Ash here sometime next month, so I'm hoping there will be more new Gibson selection than the local GC's typically offer.

Thanks everyone for your replies. Now I have to see what I can sell to finance a 'Bird once the next round of coupons come out.
 




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