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Gibson Firebird

Solid-body electric guitar

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

all models*
all models**

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

Latest Gibson Firebird posts on the VintageGuitar forum
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Gibson Firebird Artist
1 replies
last message by rustystrings

Banjo tuner for Gibson Firebird??
0 replies
last message by EssentialTension

See more Firebird discussion here

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
19681921050 19271
1969342717 583

1970s Firebird shipping figures

 Firebird V
Tobacco Sunburst
1972351    351
197315    15
1976 2222682527542
1977 25921516067701
1978 796644 161456
1979  127147148

Back to the GIBSON INDEX | comment

US ebay listings

2013 Gibson Firebird V Antique White with Bigsby

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Time left: 12d 21h 3m
Electric Ukulele Gibson Firebird style; tenor scale, genuine mini humbuckers

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1991 Gibson Custom Shop Firebird 1 in pristine condition

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Time left: 29d 4h 17m
Custom HardLuck King Spider Firebird, White Gold Hardware Active Pups & Upgrades

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Time left: 28d 4h 2m
2003 Gibson Firebird

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2012 Gibson Firebird Studio, Flat Black, Mini-Humbuckers

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2006 Gibson firebird Beautiful DEEP RED Finish W/ HARD ORIGINAL CASE & PAPERS

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Revv Firebird Shaped Guitar Nice

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2013 Gibson Firebird 50th Anniversary Bullion Gold

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Gibson Firebird 70's Tribute 2012 Silverburst With Epiphone Hard Case

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2016 Gibson Firebird T, MINTY w/ original soft case, box, paperwork

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Gibson Firebird T 2016 With Many Added Accessories! FINAL PRICE!

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See more results on eBay here

UK ebay listings

Gibson Firebird Non Reverse USA (2015) In Excellent Condition! With Gibson Case

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Time left: 28d 20h 44m
Epiphone Firebird Black

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Time left: 4d 23h 44m
Gibson Custom Non-Reverse NR Firebird - TV White

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Time left: 6d 15h 32m
Westfield Firebird guitar

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Gibson Firebird 2016 Limited Edition with Lyre Tail Vibrola - Vintage Sunburst

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Gibson Firebird 2005 - Wine Red

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Gibson Firebird 1997 WOHSC

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2016 Gibson Firebird T, MINTY w/ original soft case, box, paperwork

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1991 Gibson Firebird V Vintage Sunburst Electric Guitar w/GigBag

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Gibson Custom Shop Non Reverse Firebird NR W/OHSC and COA

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See more results on eBay here

German ebay listings

Epiphone Firebird VII E-Gitarre 1963

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Time left: 24d 22h 58m
2015 Gibson Firebird - mit David Barfuss Pickups - nur 3,2 Kilo

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Time left: 24d 15h 10m
Epiphone Firebird VII 1963 Reissue

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Haar Guitars, Erik van de Haar, Trad FB Kloppmann 59, Firebird

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Gibson Firebird 2013 White - What A Beauty

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Gibson Firebird LTD - Vintage Copper

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See more results on eBay here

There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
jun Comment left 27th September 2012 08:08:18
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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