Vintage Gibson Firebirds

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1,701
What's the most desirable years and models? They're so rare, I haven't been able to spend time with one, but the new ones have me curious what I'm missing!
 

Strathog

Supporting Member
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208
A 1964 Frost Blue Firebird III recently sold at auction for over $60,000.00, so I'd say that year and model was pretty "desirable" :)
 

mc5nrg

Supporting Member
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9,850
The subject of Firebirds could be pretty lengthy.
To start, look at the case pictured above. That is a well known neckbreaker. Two areas are the problem. Often the planetary banjo tuners rest on the bottom of the case transferring impact force to the headstock. Also the support bar at the base of the neck acts as a fulcrum leading to breaks in that area. This applies to later nonreverse versions as well.

Maybe your best bet is a circa '76 Bicentennial reissue bird or the fairly rare early 80s versions* which dispense with the banjo tuners which aren't all that great and are a factor in neck diving or breaks. Early 90s Gibson started using the current pickups which are different than the earlier Firebird minis both in construction, tone and are a bit wider from side to side,. Note FB minis are not the same as LP or Epiphone minis.

*Not the Firebird IIs with the RD electronics.
 

DrumBob

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
17,051
Firebirds are their own animal. They feel different from any other guitar you've probably ever played. Because of the long body design, they feel huge when you strap one on or sit with it, but the scale length is the same as any other Gibson. They're probably Gibson's best attempt at building a Fender style guitar when you think about it. There have been many reissue Firebirds over the years, and everyone has their opinions on which are best. The thing to do is spend time trying different Firebirds out so you can see what floats your boat. Don't be surprised if they feel uncomfortable at first. They take a little getting used to in many cases. That was the case for me. I now have two reverse Firebirds, so I'm converted.

The current Gibson Firebird pickups have ceramic magnets that are not to my liking at all, as they sound very brittle to me. If you buy a recent issue FB, consider upgrading the pickups. There are many choices on the market. My Joe Bonamassa Firebird I has a great sounding pickup. I don't know what the Chinese did, but they got it right.
 
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treedroppings

Member
Messages
2,230
I'm thinking of this...
'66 non-reverse Firebird III with 3 P-90s. Mmm, plugged into a tweed Harvard the neck pickup was the link to a new universe of Tone. Aggressive!!

And the Firebird V I bought, has two Zhangbucker pickups.

The neck pickup is 42ga half A5 and A2, 6.2 kOhms and sounds like Brian Jones' work for the Stones.

The bridge pickup was A5, 43 ga, 11kOhms because I said that I wanted an old Metallica sound.

Funny how the SSH Strat I play is louder, though. That Voodoo '57 PAF is pretty loud, but on parallel gets a little thinner. The Firebird pickups are set down low on the guitar to avoid the 'boxy' sound, so that's partly to blame, LOL.
 
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datguytim

Member
Messages
3,639
Non reverse Birds do it for me - got my eye on a '65 - has the narrower nut width, but has vibe, mojo, and a factory Maestro, so..........
 

Jeff Gehring

Silver Supporting Member
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5,778
Here's a pic of my old Firebird III, taken sometime during the previous century. It was a nice one; thin neck, but stable.

I'd just like to say here, if you are considering a reissue, PLAY it, a LOT first. The last reissue 'bird I bought was a worthless instrument. It even shocked the luthier I took it to with how Gumby-like that neck was -- completely unstable.

 

Family Man

Supporting Member
Messages
1,335
Here's a pic of my old Firebird III, taken sometime during the previous century. It was a nice one; thin neck, but stable.

I'd just like to say here, if you are considering a reissue, PLAY it, a LOT first. The last reissue 'bird I bought was a worthless instrument. It even shocked the luthier I took it to with how Gumby-like that neck was -- completely unstable.

Funny you mention the neck was gumby-like. I've always thought the reverse Firebirds look just like Gumby!

That said, I like both non-reverse and reverse Firebirds.
 

BMX

Supporting Member
Messages
3,384
I've got a recent Firebird (whatever the year was that they came with a soft case, 2016 maybe). It's a awesome guitar-very lightweight and sounds great, has the Steinberger style tuners which are better than banjo ones. My recommendation is to buy a recent Firebird and then if you love it start looking at vintage ones.
 

Artie Fisk

Member
Messages
1,534
+1 I'm a recent convert to the non-reverse (I do still like both, though).

My '65 has the transition (1 5/8") nut width and satisfies my custom color fetish. :cool:

Wow! Was that Frost Blue with seriously yellowed lacquer over it? I LOVE non-reverse Firebirds, and don't recall ever seeing one in this particular shade...
 

bossaddict

Silver Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Messages
1,319
Wow! Was that Frost Blue with seriously yellowed lacquer over it? I LOVE non-reverse Firebirds, and don't recall ever seeing one in this particular shade...
It's Inverness Green, but yeah, the lacquer has yellowed quite a bit.
 
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