The Firebird Studio – Original Reverse Style In Mahogany
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This relatively new offering from Gibson is is a tribute to the Firebird that was made famous in the 70’s. Made from solid mahogany, the Firebird 70s Tribute is offered in four grain revealing nitrocellulose lacquered colors: Silver Burst, Cherry, Vintage Sunburst, and Ebony.
In a unique nod to an era, Gibson has shaped the neck so that its thinnest at the first fret, and gets chunkier as you slide on up the neck. It starts at .800 inches and sloly moves up to .963 inches at the twelfth fret. The fingerboard is a dark brown baked maple, with pearloid dot inlays. Its a 22 fret neck with a 12 inch radius, 24.75 inch radius, and topped off with a corian nut and Mini Grover Kidney tuners.
The pickups are brand new models from Gibson – Alnico Mini Humbuckers, in both the neck and bridge position. They’re sort of a hybrid design, according to Gibson, they combine elements of the pickups used in the Les Paul Deluxe from the 70s, and the Firebird pickups from the 60s.
The guitar is wired just like a Les Paul and many other Gibsons, two volume, two tone knobs, and a three way selector switch.
The bridge is the standard Tune-O-Matic in chrome, with the usual stop bar tailpiece.
Other than the new pickups, which is an exciting offering, there really isn’t anything new from a technology standpoint here – which is just fine and to be expected from a “Tribute” guitar. As with most studio models, Gibson is saving you a little money by reducing cost by eliminating the fret board binding. This is a truly affordable model, with a MSRP of around $1400, and as usual – you’ll see it for a lot less than that on the street.
The Firebird has quite a history and a giant roster of players who made it famous. In the 60s, Gibsons sales were suffering a slump, due to their higher prices and some stiff competition from Fender. Ray Dietrich (a car designer) was hired by the President of Gibson – Ted McCarthy, and work on a new guitar begun. Some say it was modeled after cars of the era, others say it was an explorer rendition with less pointy edges.
There was actually a lawsuit threatened by none other than Fender, who had complaints that the Firebird headstock was a little too much like the Stratocaster’s. This didn’t go anywhere.
The first Firebird sold in 1963, and there were four models. The reverse style actually came first, with the non-reverse being tried for a few years to help out sales – which it didn’t, so it was dropped.
The Firebirds have been reissued a few times, and here we are – the 2012 is here. With its stunning looks and relatively low price tag, this one isn’t too far our of reach.