Gibson Firebird 2017 T – Review.

If you are looking for a left-field, different and perhaps even slightly ever strange offering for an electric guitar, look no further than the Gibson Firebird. Designed by the legendary car designer Ray Dietrich, the look is based on the extravagant tail finned and chromed American made cars of the 1950s.

Many players have wielded the Firebird such as Eric Clapton and Warren Hayes, but the most well-known would definitely be the late Johnny Winter whose main guitar was a sunburst Firebird.

Specifications

Moving on to the instrument itself, the design is unusual in that the lower horn is longer than the upper and in essence is a reverse body design. On some occasions however Gibson has issued non-reverse Firebirds as well.

The Firebird features full neck through body construction with mahogany wings as opposed to the usual glued in neck found on Les Pauls and SGs.

The headstock, as is the body design is also reversed, with the low E string stretching to the far end of the headstock and the high E on the near side, whilst a 60s slim taper neck makes for effortless playability.

Also different to other guitars this 2017 model uses Steinberg gearless locking tuners, whilst the original 60s model used banjo style tuners. The hardware is finished in chrome with a Tune o Matic bridge and Stop Bar arrangement.

Electronics wise the Firebird sports two mini humbucker pickups, the usual Gibson 2 volume and 2 tone controls and a 3 way switch to control these. A straight string path and self-lubricating nut takes care of any tuning issues.

Fit and Finish

At first glance the guitar seems to be solid and well-made and finished.  However looking closely some of the edges between the central body and wings have a few paint finish issues, also weirdly the finish is not completely smooth and the grain of the wood seems to peer through the Pelham Blue paint with the clear lacquer applied over it. Perhaps on a model with a natural finish it wouldn’t matter but which a solid colour it looks out of place. Then again one can only notice this close up, and it definitely does not affect the appeal of this instrument.

Finally the case is unusually deep and tall, on this model perhaps to protect the neck through body construction?

Sounds & Playability

The guitar balances well when sitting down with a slight but not drastic neck dive. It does not seem to be an issue though. Standing up the same is true, using a padded and wide strap helps as well. The guitar resonates well acoustically and plugged in to a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe it fires into life with warm tones coming from the neck pickup and a sharp biting sound emanating from the bridge humbucker. Add overdrive and the guitar roars…. Add more gain and it breathes fire. This is a real rock/blues guitar…. It sings and the all access fretboard helps playing solos and such in the upper register.

The neck’s slim taper profile is easy and comfortable and the frets and no protruding edges,

Once I have played it in a live I few gigs coming up shortly will add more  views.

Summary

An interesting guitar which will be enjoyed for many years to come.

By Ernest H Slade
www.gear-review.co.uk