The Firebird X – Some Modest Thoughts

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Ok, for a while now forums and Youtube comments have been flooding with rage over Gibson for their Firebird X, and people have been unrelentingly aggressive.  When I initially saw the guitar I just sorta thought to myself “yeah, sure.  Looks pretty cool.”  Past that I didn’t think anything of it.

Well, as I’ve read more and more I’ve come to realize that I’m part of a gradually shrinking minority that actually authentically thinks the Firebird X isn’t as bad as the rap it’s been getting.

I can even recall coming across a web site that did a top ugliest guitars list and of all the things along the way I remember being shocked that the Firebird X was deemed worse looking.

So here I am.  I’m gonna stick up for it.  Not so much because I think so highly of Gibson.  My thoughts on Gibson overall are pretty erratic, but that’s more so a separate discussion.  In this case I just don’t think the Firebird X is that bad.

A lot of people clamor on and on about how ugly the Firebird X is, but really it just looks like an inverted Firebird.  Have a side by side comparison to aid you in this comparison.


Gibson Firebird

Firebird X

Sure there are a few aesthetic differences beyond that, but they’re all pretty negligable. I know a bunch of people that are into Firebirds, but it seems like even those people are to the Firebird X as Dracula is to holy water.  What is so dramatically different about that that makes it so unbearable to see?  It’s not like someone carved a handlebar into the body.

I can’t readily relate to that opinion.  I like Firebirds and all I readily see is an inverted Firebird.  Liking it seems very natural to me.

The inlays and paint finish have also garnered a lot of rage.

I don’t have any counter argument to that, though.  I’ve seen finishes I didn’t like on other guitars, so it’s not unworldy for me to think that others might not like the Firebird X’s.  All I can say is it looks fine to me.  I like the shade of blue and the red guitar reminds me of Giygas from Earthbound.  Giygas is cool, so this by extension is too.  The inlays I can agree are a bit bland, but that seems like it’s getting a bit nit picky.  It seems like most people have a strong dislike for some other aspect of the guitar and they’re taking it out on everything else.  Inlays are inlays.  Who cares?

But we all know that’s not what’s made this guitar such a big topic.  The built-in computer is.

It’s not hard to find the majority of the world forming a riot over the tone of the guitar.  The common complaint?  It sounds too digital.  I would hardly call myself a tone snob, so perhaps I’m not the best spokesperson against this, but so what?  Yeah, I know the world generally believes analog to be consistently better, but I just don’t think that’s the case.  I have digital pedals and I have analog pedals.  My best pedals and worst pedals are of both varieties, so I don’t really think that being digital is a fair accusation like it used to be.  If anything I probably prefer digital because it’s usually capable of so much more for so much less.

And that leads me to my next point.  The price.

There is no way in any size, shape, or form I could defend the asking price for the Firebird X.  At $5,000 (give or take) I think that’s too much for any guitar, and Gibson has a tendency to tread the line of pricing a bit closely in my opinion.  I’ve played $300 guitars that felt like miracles and several thousand dollar guitars that felt like sitting through Battlefield Earth twice.  My rule of thumb is when a guitar starts to rival the price of my car it’s too much.  I’ve got nothing on this one.

The last complaint I’ve heard is probably about as stupid as it gets.

Fortunately I’ve only read this from a very small number of people, but it’s so stupid that I’ve deemed it worth bringing up.  It uses a battery.  Oh woe is me.  The pressure.  The fact that that would even register as a complaint is ludicrous.  No one’s ever had a problem with active pickups, so why should this be so different?  That’s not a legitimate complaint.  That’s griping just for the sake of griping.  Fortunately I’ve only read a small, isolated number of people say that so my faith in mankind isn’t lost yet.

In conclusion, yeah.  The Firebird X.  I don’t think it’s nearly that bad in terms of hardware, and aesthetically it’s a far cry from the biggest threat out there.  Has anyone looked at BC Rich’s catalog lately?

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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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Nicholas Tozier
11 years ago

I have nothing against the X, but I’ve got to say I love the classic Firebird’s headstock so, so much.

11 years ago

I look at the pictures given, and the traditional Firebird just looks great. It is a balanced bit of art where the X looks gaudy by comparison. Like a crush electric blue ’63 Vette vs a body-kit laden, underglow festooned, graphic heavy import tuner.

The old Firebird relies on good design to look good. The X doesn’t follow the same theory. To each their own, I guess.

Benjamin Cox
11 years ago

My issue with the battery is not that it has one – I have no problem with that, the problem is that by all accounts the battery life is extremely short. I’ve read accounts saying it typically lasts about 2 hours, and I’ve played longer gigs than that. Having a battery you cannot rely on even when freshly charged is a serious problem.

And the design? I’m warming up to it a bit. I actually really love the finish, I think it’s actually really beautiful, my problem with the design is that the inverted firebird shape is just plain ugly, and that the new headstock doesn’t look right with that body. Also, the control design looks rather cluttered. Surely there is a better way to organize those controls.

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