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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



Latest Gibson Firebird posts on the VintageGuitar forum
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Gibson Firebird Artist
1 replies
last message by rustystrings
07/04/2015 11:13

Banjo tuner for Gibson Firebird??
0 replies
last message by EssentialTension
30/04/2009 18:03


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
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



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US ebay listings

Kent Armstrong Mini Humbucker Guitar Pickup for GIBSON FIREBIRD, Nickel MFBV-2N

Current price: $48.95
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NEW VIBROLA FOR GIBSON MAESTRO SG FIREBIRD TAILPIECE

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Firebird Guitar Hard Shell Case

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2008 Epiphone Worn Firebird Studio USED - w/Gig Bag

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Vintage 1970s Gibson Gold Long Maestro Vibrola TAILPIECE Firebird SG Custom 355

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1981 Gibson firebird w/ OHSC

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Gibson Top Hat Knobs, Les Paul, Explorer, Firebird, SG,

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GIBSON FIREBIRD TRUSS TIE ROD COVER (BLK/SILVER)

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Kent Armstrong Mini Humbucker Guitar Pickup for GIBSON FIREBIRD, Chrome MFBV-2CR

Current price: $48.95
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GIBSON FIREBIRD TRUSS TIE ROD COVER (BLK/GOLD)

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NEW! Firebird Metal Mounting Ring With (4) Screws - Chrome

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UK ebay listings

Gretsch G6131T-TVP Professional Series (Japan) Power Jet Firebird - Red

Current price: £1995.00
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Time left: 5d 12h 45m
Custom Shop Firebird 1

Current price: £1950.00
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2013 Mike Lull Custom FX Blue Handbuilt Boutique USA Firebird Electric Guitar

Current price: £1825.00
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Used Gibson Custom Shop Firebird Non Rev LTD Custom Color Frost Blue 2011

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GRETSCH G6131T-TVP POWER JET FIREBIRD JT14010390 BRAND NEW

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Gibson Firebird V - Heritage Cherry (1981)

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1979 Gibson Bicentennial Firebird Black Vintage Electric Guitar w/Case Ebony

Current price: £1600.97
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1999 Gibson Custom Shop Firebird III Reissue Cardinal Red

Current price: £1597.77
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BRAND NEW GRETSCH G6131T-TVP POWER JET FIREBIRD W/ CASE FIREBIRD RED TV JONES

Current price: £1536.93
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Gibson Elliot Easton “Tikibird” Firebird

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2011 Gibson Firebird X Blue Swirl #261 Limited Edition

Current price: £1405.65
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Gibson 50th Anniversary Super-rare Gold Bullion Limited Edition Firebird A Find!

Current price: £1299.09
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Time left: 23d 22h 45m
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German ebay listings

GRETSCH 6131D JET FIREBIRD ''PRE FENDER 1989/90 new old stock-new guitar

Current price: €1995.00
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Time left: 21d 9h 55m
Gibson Firebird 2015 Vintage Sunburst

Current price: €1699.00
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Time left: 8d 8h 31m
GIBSON FIREBIRD V 2015 VS VINTAGE SUNBURST GLOSS MAHAGONI KORPUS MINI HUMBUCKER

Current price: €1699.00
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Time left: 9d 7h 32m
Tolle Gibson Firebird V 2015 VS Vintage Sunbust E-Gitarre inkl. Koffer

Current price: €1699.00
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Time left: 9d 7h 35m
Gibson Firebird 2015 - Vintage Sunburst

Current price: €1699.00
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Gibson Firebird 2014 Classic White E-Gitarre mit Koffer - DEMO/USED

Current price: €1690.00
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Time left: 7d 10h 38m
See more results on eBay here

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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