Firebird I Guitars

1964 Gibson Firebird I

Color: Mahogany Sunburst, Rating: 8.00, Sold (ID# 00610)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113

An Original "Reverse" Firebird l

This "Reverse" '64 guitar weighs just 7.60 lbs. and has a nice, fat nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Solid mahogany body, three-piece mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets and inlaid pearl dot position markers. Headstock with gold-painted "Gibson" logo on black plastic truss-rod cover. Individual Gibson Banjo-style tuners with rearwards tulip-shaped metal buttons. One patent-number mini-humbucker with output of 6.84k. Reproduction three-layer (white/black/white) plastic pickguard. Two controls (one volume, one tone). Gold plastic bell-shaped knobs with metal tops. Combination bar bridge/tailpiece with pre-set ridges. All parts nickel-plated. This very rare guitar is in very good (8.00) condition. Housed in it's original Gibson black hardshell case with orange plush lining (8.00)

"Announced in Spring 1963, the original Firebird series was conceived as an attempt to produce less conventional electrics likely to appeal to Fender players. Four different models, identified by odd Roman numerals, were marketed simultaneously...The four models produced between 1963 and 1965 (a.k.a. the 'reverse' Firebirds) share the same body specifications and differ only in fretboard style, electronics and hardware...The original Firebird electrics are primarily characterized by: a neck-through-body construction; a reverse body shape with extended lower horn; a reverse peghead with the treble E tuner nearest to the nut; banjo-style tuners with rearwards buttons; and they are all equipped with mini-humbuckers built without adjustable polepieces. The early samples are characterized by a 2-piece full length neck and a convex heel where the neck blends into the body. By late 1963, production models were released with a stronger 9-piece lamination and a smaller squared-off heel. A painted-on red Firebird emblem was also added on the white pickguard...For all practical purposes, the Firebird III was the equivalent of the Special found in the SG/Les Paul family. Compared to the FB I, the model is characterized by: a bound rosewood fingerboard; two pickups; individual volume and tone controls for each pickup; a 3-way toggle switch for pickup selection; a (short) Vibrola tailpiece with flat metal lever. In spite of a Vibrola tailpiece, the FB III sports the same bar bridge with a pre-set ridge as the FB I. And because of its stud-anchoring this bridge cannot be replaced by a fully adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge...The original Firebird series remained in production for less than two years between Fall 1963 and mid-65" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, pp. 198-199).

"New automobile designs out of Detroit had caught McCarty's eye, and he hired the man responsible, Ray Dietrich, to draw up some guitars. Dietrich sketched a series of models, and one was chosen. The new guitar bucked tradition with a treble-side horn longer than the bass horn -- the reverse of conventional style. The headstock, too, was reversed, with all the tuners on the treble side. To avoid an awkward tuning procedure, banjo-style tuners went straight out the back of the headstock. The neck went all the way through the body. The pickups were unique: mini-humbuckers with no visible polepieces. The new creations were dubbed Firebirds, and a flock of four models debuted in 1963. A new set of custom color finishes was introduced just for them" (Walter Carter, Gibson Guitars: 100 Years of an American Icon, p. 237).

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