NGD: 1969 Gibson Byrdland

Ryguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
congrats, @Ryguy !

here's my 1956 ES350TDN, the "poor man's byrdland".
the original 23.5" scale-length.
the 1st guitar i bought with my own money (age 15, after 3 summers of cleaning up & then serving at the state food concession at my local beach).

i'd sold it to my then-manager around 1975; my wife secretly bought it back from him in 1992 while i was in hospital; she bought as soon as i was released from neurosurgical ICU. (i was still in hospital for a couple of weeks; i nearly had a heart attack when i got home and it was just there, just sitting on a stand in our living room!, lol.)

one day, i'll remove those klunky-assed Grovers, lol.





Thank you for sharing that story and pic...that is a gorgeous guitar and wonderful story. Austin Vintage Guitars has ‘57 es350t that I have played often. It is an amazing guitar—the laminated maple top gives it a very different and equally beautiful tone compared to the Byrdland.

As much as people understandably struggle with the necks on these, I feel very fortunate that it is comfortable for me, as it really is a uniquely satisfying guitar to play. It is ”fast” for sure, in that stretches and big interval leaps are somewhat easier; more importantly to me, the shallow but wide body, combined with the carved spruce top, ebony board, and wonderful pickups give it the lush , round tone of an L5 (with perhaps a little better cut/less low end), but which is far more comfortable for me to play standing for long periods.

I‘lo be sure to post some clips soon. I am over the moon with this guitar for sure!
 

Ryguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
Those Byrdlands are so cool. I wish I could make them work for me, I'd own one.

There's an older video out there of Ted Nugent showing off his guitars in his home. He's playing through some buzzy high gain amp, but even so, one of his Byrdlands sounds so amazing. Heads and shoulders above the rest, including a '58 burst.
I hear you. A few years ago I would not have been able to bond with this neck. But as I’ve gotten more into jazz, my technique has changed quite a bit, and I tend not to to play with my thumb over the top of the neck. For whatever reason that change has made me much more comfortable with smaller necks.
 

hogy

Member
Messages
13,319
I hear you. A few years ago I would not have been able to bond with this neck. But as I’ve gotten more into jazz, my technique has changed quite a bit, and I tend not to to play with my thumb over the top of the neck. For whatever reason that change has made me much more comfortable with smaller necks.
It’s not so much the fingerboard width. The scale feels very cramped to me (I’m a Fender guy). I also play with my fingers most of the time vs. using a pick,and the strings under my picking hand are too close together. I can’t get my fat fingers in between the strings.
 

Ryguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
It’s not so much the fingerboard width. The scale feels very cramped to me (I’m a Fender guy). I also play with my fingers most of the time vs. using a pick,and the strings under my picking hand are too close together. I can’t get my fat fingers in between the strings.
For sure. I bet your beautiful ES-5 fits those fingers just right! And since you are here, I should share that a couple of your posts are some of the most gratifying I've seen on my many years here on TGP: the Lowell Fulson guitar/story is simply epic. And IIRC correctly, it was a post of your that shared an instruction manual for a 50's Gibson (or was it a Fender?) that indicated that it was designed to play with the amp cranked and the guitar volume and tone on 5, or something like that. I find it remarkable that such a gem of tone wisdom, that is somewhat counter-intuitive, was actually how it was designed to be used. And for so many years I thought that was some magical secret that was passed down by discerning guitarists through the ages. :bonk

These Byrdland and ES350T necks are the triple whammy of weird too: the narrower nut width (this one is 1 10/16), the short scale, and--what is the oddest part to me--the neck doesn't get much wider as you get higher up...it just stays thin.

Fortunately, mine has a pretty deep neck carve, which is probably the more impactful characteristic of a neck profile for my comfort and playing style. Maybe .85-.88 or so. I am actually surprised at how much comfortable it is for me. I think if I hadn't had the chance to play a different Byrdland and ES350T at Austin Vintage for many hours over the last year, I would never have known that I could enjoy a neck like this.
 
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2
Congrats on new guitar and thank you to posters on this thread for the info.

I'm longtime jazz listener who recently became one of those retired guys looking to learn an instrument as not going anywhere during pandemic. Having usual newbie struggles with finger stretch limited further by a crooked pinky broken in a cycling accident.

Happened to watch Hank Garland biopic Crazy (which is mostly mediocre and dubious accuracy) which led me to investigate a bit more about Garland and discovered his role in a shorter scale/thinner jazz box. (BTW - Garland's Jazz Winds from a New Direction album with a very young Gary Burton on vibes is highly recommended for anyone into 50's/60's jazz guitar)

Tried out a Byrdland at Gruhn's and it was a revelation. Scale is enabling me to immediately execute fingering I probably would never be able to accomplish even on a 24.75" neck and the sound & feel considerable upgrade over my initial Godin archtop.

Yeah, way too nice an instrument for a newbie, but since a Norlin era '78 was expensive but not ridiculous collector priced and a lot more fun than plunking out notes on a cheaper small scale beginner guitar. Plus other options like Midtown Kalamazoo or similar copy hard to find and not that much less expensive. Also major incentive to get more accomplished to justify ownership.
 

Ryguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
Congrats on new guitar and thank you to posters on this thread for the info.

I'm longtime jazz listener who recently became one of those retired guys looking to learn an instrument as not going anywhere during pandemic. Having usual newbie struggles with finger stretch limited further by a crooked pinky broken in a cycling accident.

Happened to watch Hank Garland biopic Crazy (which is mostly mediocre and dubious accuracy) which led me to investigate a bit more about Garland and discovered his role in a shorter scale/thinner jazz box. (BTW - Garland's Jazz Winds from a New Direction album with a very young Gary Burton on vibes is highly recommended for anyone into 50's/60's jazz guitar)

Tried out a Byrdland at Gruhn's and it was a revelation. Scale is enabling me to immediately execute fingering I probably would never be able to accomplish even on a 24.75" neck and the sound & feel considerable upgrade over my initial Godin archtop.

Yeah, way too nice an instrument for a newbie, but since a Norlin era '78 was expensive but not ridiculous collector priced and a lot more fun than plunking out notes on a cheaper small scale beginner guitar. Plus other options like Midtown Kalamazoo or similar copy hard to find and not that much less expensive. Also major incentive to get more accomplished to justify ownership.

Well, congrats on finding a guitar that fits you and inspires you! You may already be familiar with it, but if not, you should check out the "Diana Krall Live in Paris" album/DVD. Anthony Wilson is a fantastic jazz player, and he uses a '59 on that album with one of the greatest tones I've ever heard. It's really the main reason I hunted down a Byrdland in the first place!
 
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2
Thanks, familiar with Anthony (and his father, the great Gerald Wilson) but had not realized he played a Byrdland with Krall. After discovering that Ted Nugent plays a Byrdland really relieved I didn't end up with a florentine cutaway. (Sorry I'm not a fan of his music nor his politics, but if anyone is anti-venetian you're certainly welcome to your opinion...)

Actually, I'm not sure how much or even if Hank Garland used a Byrdland on his Jazz Winds album. Also wondering how much Barry Galbraith might have recorded with his Stromberg G-5 which also had a 23.5" scale that supposedly inspired Byrd/Garland?

(Speaking of Galbraith, anyone remotely interested in jazz should check him out on the truly fantastic "After Hours" short from 1961 with Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge that can be found on YouTube. Captures the last gasp of a New York City scene that had already pretty much disappeared.)
 
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Ryguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
Congrats @Ryguy !
welcome to the Byrdland club:) I notice your tuning machines are not Kluson Seal-Fast; are they factory? Are those Grover?
You know, I hadn't even really questioned why the guy I bought it from had changed the tuners, beyond assuming the originals were somehow damaged. But since the originals were included—along with the original grommets and screws—and I didn't particularly like the feel of the Imperials (too easy to turn), I put the Klusons back on. They work perfectly, I and like them MUCH better. I get all the fuss about the Sealfast tuners now...
 

Ryguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
Thanks, familiar with Anthony (and his father, the great Gerald Wilson) but had not realized he played a Byrdland with Krall. After discovering that Ted Nugent plays a Byrdland really relieved I didn't end up with a florentine cutaway. (Sorry I'm not a fan of his music nor his politics, but if anyone is anti-venetian you're certainly welcome to your opinion...)

Actually, I'm not sure how much or even if Hank Garland used a Byrdland on his Jazz Winds album. Also wondering how much Barry Galbraith might have recorded with his Stromberg G-5 which also had a 23.5" scale that supposedly inspired Byrd/Garland?

(Speaking of Galbraith, anyone remotely interested in jazz should check him out on the truly fantastic "After Hours" short from 1961 with Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge that can be found on YouTube. Captures the last gasp of a New York City scene that had already pretty much disappeared.)
That short was fantastic, thank you for the recommendation.

I've been watching the Diana Krall "Live at Paris" DVD quite a bit lately (working on a couple of the Anthony Wilson solos) and it made me aware of a virtue the Byrdland has for my playing style: as the neck stays narrow as you get up towards the 12th fret and beyond, there is less real estate for flopping around and playing sloppily. As a result, I am finding myself playing more under control on the Byrdland.

Anthony Wilson, in addition to being a wonderful musician, has fantastic technique, and sound wonderful on his Monteleone, but I can't help but thinking that he also looks very deliberate about his fingering and such playing the Byrdland. The DVD has great close-ups of him playing at several points, so you can really see his left hand in action. I'm sure I'm projecting, but watching him somehow made me aware of how I was approaching the Byrdland a little differently that my other guitars.

At any rate, I'm glad you found a Byrdland, as well as the joy of learning jazz guitar. One of the beauties of music in general, and Jazz in particular IMHO, is that it represents an endless journey, no matter where or when it begins for you. And having a guitar you are drawn to helps immeasurably in creating a bond between you and the instrument, and the music.

Cheers!
 

ctreitzell

Member
Messages
2,991
You know, I hadn't even really questioned why the guy I bought it from had changed the tuners, beyond assuming the originals were somehow damaged. But since the originals were included—along with the original grommets and screws—and I didn't particularly like the feel of the Imperials (too easy to turn), I put the Klusons back on. They work perfectly, I and like them MUCH better. I get all the fuss about the Sealfast tuners now...
Right on!! Kluson Seal-Fast, you'll never know if you don't try 'em, eh?
I love them, they are a very special tuning machine IMO

and I like Grovers, too
 




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