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Firebird III Guitars

1965 Gibson Firebird III "Reverse" with "Non Reverse Peghead"

Color: Mahogany Sunburst, Rating: 9.25, $13,500.00 (ID# 02181)
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A Near Mint, Super Rare "Reverse" Firebird lll with "Non Reverse Peghead"

 

1965 Gibson Firebird III "Reverse" with "Non Reverse Peghead"

This super rare early-to-mid 1965 'reverse body' with 'non-reverse headstock guitar weighs just 8.20 lbs. Neck-through-body construction with nine-piece laminated mahogany center section and two glued-on wings. Five-piece mahogany and walnut neck with a nice, fat nut width of just under 1 11/16 inches, a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches and a wonderful medium-to-thick profile. Bound rosewood fretboard with 22 original medium-jumbo frets and inlaid pearl dot position markers. Headstock with original 'non-reverse' gold-painted "Gibson" logo on black plastic truss-rod cover secured by three screws. 'Non-reverse' peghead with individual Kluson Banjo-style tuners with rearwards metal tulip-shaped buttons. Serial number "289502" impressed into the back of the headstock. Two "patent number" mini-humbuckers (built without adjustable pole-pieces) with outputs of 6.92k and 6.36k, the bridge pickup with a black rectangular label on the underside with "Patent No. / 2,737,842" in gold. Three-layer (white over black) plastic pickguard with eight screws and "Firebird" emblem in red. Four controls (two volume, two tone) plus three-way selector switch. The original potentiometers are stamped "137 6336" (CTS, August 1963). Gold plastic bell-shaped knobs with metal tops. Combination bar bridge/tailpiece with pre-set ridges and two adjustable intonation screws. Factory Gibson short 'Maestro Vibrola' tailpiece with 'flat-bar'. All nickel parts. This is a near mint (9.25++) condition guitar with virtually no wear to the frets or fretboard and just a few hardly noticeable and miniscule surface marks on the body and the back of the neck. This is only the third example that we have ever seen of a reverse Firebird III with a non-reverse headstock which is far easier for adjustment of the tuners. The reverse headstock is somewhat awkward in that the player has to reach around in an unfamiliar way when adjusting the tuners. A fabulous near mint example of a classic Gibson model in it's original Gibson four-latch rectangular black hardshell case with orange plush lining (9.25).

"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"… The non-reverse peghead with carved ledge [are] found on the reverse-body Firebirds made in 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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