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1972 Gibson showcase brochures
1972 Gibson showcase brochuresIn 1972 Gibson produced a series of 'Guitar of the Month' brochures, each dedicated to one of their high end models, the Les Paul Recording guitar, L5-CES, ES-175D, Super 400-CES, ES-355TD-SV and Byrdland. Each brochure was a single sheet folded into four panels, with details of the instruments themselves, their features, musical purpose, and a little history behind the development of each guitar. Only the Les Paul Recording was a new model; the others were all well established in the Gibson line. Follow the link to see scans and further information on these leaflets and other Gibson guitar catalogues from the CMI and Norlin periods.
1966 Kalamazoo KB-1 bass
Kalamazoo KB-1 bass Gibson assembled these 30 1/2" scale Kalamazoo KB-1 basses in their electronics plant in Kalamazoo, MI - separate from the main Gibson plant. They used the same components and hardware as on the Gibson EB bass series; but with a pre-painted masonite body and a bolt-on maple neck; a very different construction to Gibson's usual output. Initially the KB bass had a Mustang-shaped body (see the 1966 Kalamazoo KB-1, left), which was soon redesigned with the classic SG shape (see the 1967 Kalamazoo KB-1, right). Have a listen to sound clips of this bass here.
Older updates here

Gibson Firebird
Solid-body electric guitar

Gibson Index | Firebird
Gibson Firebird III - Some Guitarists Have All the Fun
Gibson Firebird III - Some Guitarists Have All the Fun
1968 Guitar Player advert featuring examples of much of Gibson's late 1960s range: the Gibson B25-12 flattop acoustic, GSS-100 solid-state amplifier, and two electrics, the solid-body Firebird III and the hollow-body ES-330TD. This was one of the first Gibson advertisements not to focus on high-end jazz guitars, or famous musicians, rather instruments more likely to appeal to the general guitar-buying public.

The layout of this advertisement takes it's styling from the then current catalogue (the 1966 Gibson full-line).
Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1963 Gibson catalog

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1964 Gibson catalog

The Gibson Firebird was launched in 1963 as a descendent of the commercially unpopular Explorer. Once again it took a few years before this futuristic design found popularity, despite being adopted by big stars of the day like Brian Jones and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It was initially launched in four variants, with two similar bass models (the Thunderbirds). All were mahogany bodied with a neck-through construction. Necks were initially mahogany, fingerboards Brazilian rosewood (ebony for the Firebird VII). All models sported the same humbucking pickups

Detailed specifications for each model can be found here

The first version of the firebird was manufactured from 1963 to 1965, but sales, although not that small, but were low compared to other models.

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1966 Gibson catalog

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1966 Gibson catalogue

In 1966 the instrument was relaunched with a new body shape and set neck (rather than through neck from older models) construction. This was known as the non-reverse Firebird. In addition to the existing Firebird models, a 12-string was also produced. The Firebird I and II were now equipped with P90 single coil soapbars - the humbuckers only on the V, VII and V-12.

Gibson custom colours available on the Firebird and Thunderbird models were as follows: cardinal red, heather poly, inverness green poly, ember red, polaris white, pelham blue poly, frost blue, kerry green, silver mist poly, gold mist poly

The instruments were manufactured in 1966 and 1967, but were still being shipped as late as 1969. Despite a tiny rise in 1966, sales can only be described as dreadful.

In 1972, a few more Firebirds were produced. These were medallion models, made to celebrate the 1972 olympic games. A Medallion Flying V was also reissued at the same time. These were limited edition instruments, made in very small numbers, and have a numbered medallion attached to the body.

Gibson Firebird custom colour chart

Gibson Firebird custom colour chart

 Firebirds
all models*
SGs
all models**
19634345797
196424347419
196522838871
196627355517
19677794005
19682713680
1969836934

* Firebirds I, II, V, V-12, VII
** standard, custom, special, jnr

The Firebird (along with the Thunderbird) was brought out once again during the 1970s, again as a celebration/commemoration - this time the bicentennial anniversay of the creation of America. The Firebird logo on the scratchplate was in red white and blue. This issue never outsold the 1960s versions.

As is shown below, the Firebird decreased in popularity (as determined by sales) throughout the period 1963-79. The production figures show the most abundant firebirds are:
early 60s reverse-body models (63-65) - 5151
mid 60s non-reverse models (66-69) - 3868
late 70s bicentennial firebird (76-79) - 2847
early 70s medallion firebird (72-73) - 366

In fact the change from reverse to non-reverse body happened in mid 1965, so some of the 5151 instruments shipped that year may have actually been no-reverse bodies.

The separate shipping figures for all firebird models, 1963-1979 are as follows

1960s Firebird shipping figures

 Firebird IFirebird IIIFirebird VFirebird V-12Firebird VIITOTAL
19638027262 20434
19644971254510 1732434
19658001020353 1102283
19661164935342248462735
196720046383249779
19681921050 19271
1969342717 583
total2967398114172723829019

1970s Firebird shipping figures

 Firebird V
medallion
Bicentennial
Ebony
Bicentennial
Natural
Bicentennial
Tobacco Sunburst
Bicentennial
White
TOTAL
1972351    351
197315    15
1976 2222682527542
1977 25921516067701
1978 796644 161456
1979  127147148
total366127712541991173213



Latest Gibson Firebird posts on the VintageGuitar forum
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last message by jules
15/11/2013 05:15

Banjo tuner for Gibson Firebird??
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30/04/2009 18:03

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See more Firebird discussion here


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There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
jun Comment left 27th September 2012 07:07:18
Hello, In order to replace four pots of my firebird V USA 1998, I checked pot stamp, resistance value, and curve. I found three x5-44070035, and one 9o 44070035. x5-44070035 300k linear for front pickup volume x5-44070035 300k linear for rear pickup volume x5-44070035 500k audio for front pickup tone 9o-44070035 500k audio for rear pickup tone It is real mess. I am very confuzed.

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