Vintage Guitars
I'm happy with this
This website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features, and to analyse traffic. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. See terms and conditions

Gibson Firebird

Solid-body electric guitar

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1963 Gibson catalog

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1964 Gibson catalogue

"Bright - Vital - Fast ... the leaders in modern sound". The Gibson Firebird is another of those iconic Gibson guitar designs that is inseparable from the history of rock music. They were not immediately popular, despite being adopted by big stars of the day like Brian Jones and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones but like so many other Gibson guitars, their appeal snowballed; today the Firebird is a standard part of the Gibson line. As the 1963 advertising suggests, they have a distinct bright and punchy tone, a contrast to the slightly darker tones produced by the larger PAF humbuckers. Like any vintage Gibson, they are great playing instruments, very collectable and command high prices - five figure sums are common for early examples, guitars in great condition, or those with a custom finish. If you see a vintage Gibson Firebird for sale at an affordable price, snap it up.

Gibson Firebird history

The Firebird launched in the second half of 1963, without causing too much of a stir. In some ways was it was a descendant of the commercially unpopular Explorer; it had a similar 'reverse' body style (but with far more curves), and likewise didn't catch on with the public until some years after the original guitars were sold. It was designed by car designer Ray Dietrich, who was resident in Kalamazoo, where the Gibson plant was situated. Dietrich was at the end of his career at this point, but had designed vehicles for numerous manufacturers throughout the first half of the 20th century. But like the Explorer and Flying V, the Firebird design was perhaps a little too futuristic. All production occurred at Gibson's Kalamazoo plant in Michigan, USA. It was initially launched in four variants, Firebird I, Firebird III, Firebird V and Firebird VII, with two similar bass models (the Thunderbird II and IV). 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 'high performance' mini-humbucking pickups. 44 1/2" long, 14 1/2" wide, 1 1/2" deep. 22 frets, with a standard Gibson 24 3/4" scale. Sunburst finish was as standard, though custom colors were immediately available (at a slight premium) though these are certainly less often seen than Sunburst examples.

Although today seen as a rock instrument (largely because of the shape), it was initially pitched as a jazz guitar. The following text comes from both 1963 and 1966 Gibson Firebird literature

A new, exciting, dramatic shape to match the brilliance of their sound, the beauty of their tone new ultra modern solid body guitars by Gibson. The very shape of Jazz - designed for the fast action of jazz artists' fleeting fingers. Thin, light, deeply cutaway for easiest access to every fret, they could only be Gibson.

The Firebird series were first included in the Gibson price list of July 1963. Detailed specifications and original pricing for each model can be found here

Firebird I

1964 Gibson Firebird I in Sunburst finish Image Heritage auctions
1963 Gibson Firebird I promo sheet

The new solid body by Gibson that is priced for the growing economy-minded market. Gives you all of the fine performance of this exciting new series of guitars at a price you can afford. You have to try it to believe it

The Firebird I was equipped with a single mini-humbucker with one volume and tone control. Dot neck markers, unbound fretboard. July 1963 list price $189.50, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

Firebird III

1963/64 Gibson Firebird III in Sunburst finish Image Heritage auctions
1963 Gibson Firebird III promo sheet

A solid performer in this new line up of solid body guitars from Gibson. Offers you all the range and versatility that you could ask for, plus that sharpness in the treble range, and deep biting bass.

The Firebird III was equipped with dual mini-humbuckers, with volume and tone controls for each pickup, three-way pickup selector switch, Gibson Vibrola, dot position markers and a bound fretboard. July 1963 list price $249.50, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

Firebird V

1964 Gibson Firebird V in Sunburst finish Image Heritage auctions
1963 Gibson Firebird V promo sheet

Another in this revolutionary new series of solid body guitars by Gibson. Exciting in concept, exciting to play. You find a whole new world of sound and performance potential on this fine instrument

Like the Firebird III, the Firebird V had two mini-humbuckers, but somewhat nicer appointments: Deluxe Vibrola, tune-o-matic bridge, and trapezoid pearloid inlays. July 1963 list price $325, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

Firebird VII

1964 Gibson Firebird VII in Sunburst finish Image Heritage auctions
1963 Gibson Firebird VII promo sheet

Here is the ultimate in a solid body guitar by Gibson. A completely new and exciting instrument that offers all the sound, response, fast action and wide range that could be desired.

The Firebird VII was the most ornate of all the Firebirds. It had large pearl block inlays in an ebony fretboard, three mini-humbuckers, and gold plated hardware throughout. July 1963 list price $445, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

 Firebird, all models*SG, all models**
* Firebirds I, II, V, V-12, VII ** SG standard, custom, special, jnr

Gibson custom colors 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. Although shipping data does not specify the number of custom finish Firebirds, it is safe to assume that these were shipped in vastly smaller numbers than those in the standard Sunburst. It is quite possible that some Firebird variants were never available in some of these colors.

The original reverse body version of the Firebird was only manufactured from 1963 to 1965, but sales, although not that small, but were low compared to other models. The peak year of the reverse body Firebird was 1964, though sales were still only a third of SG sales in the same year.

'Non-reverse' Gibson Firebird

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1966 Gibson catalog

Gibson Firebirds - as advertised in the 1966 Gibson catalogue

Gibson Firebird custom colour chart

Gibson Firebird custom colour chart

In 1965 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 models, a 12-string Firebird 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. The first price-list inclusion of the non-reverse Firebirds was in June 1965. All models actually decreased in price from the previous (February 1965) listing.

Firebird I

1966 Gibson Firebird I in Sunburst finish Image Heritage auctions

The non-reverse Firebird I was significantly better equipped than the reverse body model, with two P90 single coil pickups, each with volume and tone control, and a Gibson vibrato. The June 1965 list price was just $189.50, $15 extra for Duco custom colors - the same price as the single pickup reverse body Firebird I two years earlier.

Firebird III

1965 Gibson Firebird III in Cherry finish Image Heritage auctions

The non-reverse Firebird III was fitted with three P90 single coil pickups. The June 1965 list price was $239.50, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

Firebird V

1966 Gibson Firebird V in Sunburst finish Image Heritage auctions

The non-reverse Firebird V was functionally identical to it's reverse body equivalent, but less ornate: it had no neck binding, and just simple dot position markers. The June 1965 list price was $289.50, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

Firebird V-12

1966 Gibson Firebird V-12 in Sunburst finish

The Firebird V 12 string had the same features (except vibrola) as the Firebird V, but a slightly higher price. The June 1965 list price was $309.50, $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

Firebird VII

Gibson Firebird VII in Pelham Blue finish

Again, the non-reverse Firebird VII had somewhat lesser appointments than it's reverse body predecessor. The fretboard had simple dot inlays, and was now rosewood as opposed to Ebony . The June 1965 list price for this model was $379.50, with $15 extra for Duco custom colors.

The instruments were manufactured from 1965 until 1967, but were still being shipped as late as 1969. Despite a tiny rise in 1966, sales can only be described as dreadful. It was no surprise that the Firebird was quickly deleted from the Gibson line.

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).

Medallion Firebird

In 1972, a few more Firebirds were produced. These reverse body guitars were known as the 'medallion' Firebirds, 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. Just 366 of these guitars were produced between 1972 and 1973.

Bicentennial Firebird

The Firebird (along with the Thunderbird) was reissued once again during the 1970s, again as a celebration/commemoration - this time the bicentennial anniversary of the creation of America. The Firebird logo on the scratchplate was in red white and blue. This issue never outsold the 1960s versions, but still sold in significant numbers, especially in 1978. Oddly this guitar never appeared in any US Gibson catalog or price list, though it did appear in the New Models 1977 brochure, printed in the United Kingdom. Why this was the case is not clear, however a Firebird with identical specifications (save the Firebird logo) was included amongst numerous other models in the 1981 Gibson Specials folder.

Firebird II

The Firebird II was a short-lived limited edition model, only produced briefly between mid 1981 and early 1982. It was first described in the 1981 Gibson Specials folder, but never made it to a US catalog proper. It was, however, shown in the Japanese (Arai) Gibson and Epiphone catalog (probably late 1981), and the UK (Rosetti) 1982 catalog. It was listed in US price lists (January and June 1982) at $999, and was gone by 1983.

In terms of specifications it was quite unlike the regular Firebird, having a bound maple body with figured maple veneer top, and set maple neck, and upgraded hardware such as the TP-6 bridge. It also had the same active series VI pickups, and Moog circuitry (bright mode and expansion/compression) of the RD Artist.

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 Firebird are:
early 60s reverse-body models (63-65) - 5151
mid 60s non-reverse models (65-69) - 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 totals for all Firebird models, 1963-1979 are as follows

Gibson Firebird shipping totals

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

Gibson Firebird for sale is funded by its visitors. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. For more info see terms and conditions.
original 1964 Gibson reverse FIREBIRD VII Sunburst

original 1964 Gibson reverse FIREBIRD VII Sunburst

Carbondale, Illinois, 629**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1964 Gibson reverse Firebird VII in its original Sunburst finish. It has a great playing neck with great frets as it has been professionally re-fretted. It's all original with the exception of the frets and some of the screws. One of the side screws is missing for the Lyre Vibrato cover. The headstock was oversprayed with a darker finish a long time ago, but there are no signs of any headstock cracks or repairs. ... more
eBay logo
Vintage 1963 Gibson Firebird I (Reverse)

Vintage 1963 Gibson Firebird I (Reverse)

Portland, Oregon, 972**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Configuration ?? asymmetrical hourglass Reverse Firebird-style mahogany body, nine-piece mahogany / walnut neck-through-body, 22-fret rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlays, layered reverse headstock with pearl Gibson logo inlay, six-on-the-other-side banjo-style tuners, combination wraparound stop bridge / tailpiece with raised integral saddles, three-ply white pickguard with red Firebird logo (missing), single covered mini-humbucker pickup, two knobs (volume, tone), nickel hardware.... more
eBay logo
~  VINTAGE  ~  1981 Gibson Firebird Artist II CMT Vintage Sunburst Electric Guitar

~ VINTAGE ~ 1981 Gibson Firebird Artist II CMT Vintage Sunburst Electric Guitar

Waterloo, Iowa, 507**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1981 Gibson Firebird Artist II CMT Vintage Sunburst
This guitar plays and sounds AMAZING! The wear on the guitar helps tell it's story and age Kahler Locking Tremolo System (Made in the U S.A ) Electronics are in working order Includes: Guitar, Case, Keys, and Tremolo Bar Finish Details: Original Body Material: Maple Body Details: Solid maple body with curly maple top Neck Material: Maple Fingerboard Material: Rosewood Neck Profile: C profile... more
eBay logo
1976 Gibson - Firebird Bicentennial - ID 3184

1976 Gibson - Firebird Bicentennial - ID 3184

Emmering, 82***, GERMANY


Rare Vintage Firebird
Zustand: Gut
SerNr: 00 248227
Gewicht: 3, 5 kg Versandklasse: Large
Koffer / Case: ja, aber nicht für den Transport geeignet
Vermittlungsverkauf: 10619
Fantastische Gitarre - mit vielen charming Dongs und Patina - keine Brüche oder Reparaturen. Wunderschön!!!
Plays like a Dream
Nur 3, 5 Kilo!!
Die "Doppelnull" Seriennummer gabs nur 1976
Mahagony Body
Mahagony Neck - Neckthru Construction
Palisander Fretboard
22 Bünde
Gold ... more
eBay logo
1964 Gibson Firebird Case - Made in USA

1964 Gibson Firebird Case - Made in USA



* 3 latch version
* total length inside is 111 cm=double check it with your guitar
* golden interior has stains
* has 3 smaller cracks on the sides
* 1 foot is missing
* gaffa tape residue at top end
* check ALL PICS
... more
eBay logo
1963 gibson firebird replica liuteria NM guitars

1963 gibson firebird replica liuteria NM guitars

Bassano in Teverina, 01***, ITALY


Replica di liuteria NM guitars di Nicola Mozzillo. Un capolavoro realizzato con materiali, finitura e componenti strettamente fedeli al modello del 1963. Hardware originale Gibson, pickups Seymour Duncan Antiquity, finitura Nitro... more
eBay logo

Find more Gibson Firebird for sale at

There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

Comment on this article

Email address
Anti-spam question - to catch web robots
How many legs does a tripod have?
jun Comment left 27th September 2012 12:12:18 reply
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.


mailing list


Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube

Other Great Sites

Recent posts on vintage guitar and bass

1968 Selmer guitar catalogue

1968 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1968/1969 Selmer guitar catalogue (printed July 1968), showing the entire range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Hofner, Gibson, Selmer and Giannini. Selmer were the exclusive United Kingdom distributors of Hofner and Gibson at the time, and this catalogue contains a total of 18 electric guitars, 7 bass guitars, 37 acoustics, and 2 Hawaiian guitars - all produced outside the UK and imported by Selmer, with UK prices included in guineas. This catalogue saw the (re-)introduction of the late sixties Gibson Les Paul Custom and Les Paul Standard (see page 69) and the short-lived Hofner Club 70. Other electric models include: HOFNER ELECTRICS: Committee, Verithin 66, Ambassador, President, Senator, Galaxie, HOFNER BASSES: Violin bass, Verithin bass, Senator bass, Professional bass GIBSON ELECTRICS: Barney Kessel, ES-330TD, ES-335TD, ES-345TD, ES-175D, ES-125CD, SG Standard, SG Junior, SG Special GIBSON BASSES: EB-0, EB-2, EB-3 - plus a LOT of acoustics branded Gibson, Hofner, Selmer and Giannini

1961 Hofner Colorama I

1961 Hofner Colorama IHofner Colorama was the name UK distributor Selmer gave to a series of solid and semi-solid guitars built by Hofner for distribution in the UK. The construction and specifications of the guitars varied over the period of production, but by 1961 it was a totally solid, double cutaway instrument, with a set neck, translucent cherry finish, six-in-a-row headstock, and Hofner Diamond logo pickups. Available as a single or dual pickup guitar, this sngle pickup version would have been sold in mainland Europe as the Hofner 161.

1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)

1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)Commodore was a brand applied to a series of guitars produced in Japan at the well-respected Matsumoku plant from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s - and sold primarily (perhaps exclusively?) in the United Kingdom. The models bearing the Commodore name were all guitars available from different distributors with different branding. Although there may have been some minor changes in appointments (specifically headstock branding) most had the same basic bodies, hardware and construction. Equivalent models to the Commodore N25 (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) include the Aria 5102T, Conrad 5102T(?), Electra 2221, Lyle 5102T, Ventura V-1001, Univox Coily - and most famously the Epiphone 5102T / Epiphone EA-250.

1960 Hofner Colorama II

1960 Hofner Colorama IIThe Hofner Colorama was the name given by Selmer to a series of solid (and semi-solid) body Hofner guitars distributed in the United Kingdom between 1958 and 1965. The Colorama name actually applied to some quite different guitars over the period, but in 1960 it was a very light, semi-solid, set necked guitar with one (Colorama I) or two (Colorama II, as seen here) Toaster pickups. Although an entry-level guitar, it was very well-built, and a fine playing guitar; certainly a step up (at least in terms of craftsmanship) from many of the Colorama guitars that would follow, and a good deal of the guitars available in Britain circa 1960.

1971 Epiphone 1820 bass (ET-280)

1971 Epiphone 1820 (ET-280) bassBy the end of the 1960s, a decision had been made to move Epiphone guitar production from the USA (at the Kalamazoo plant where Gibson guitars were made), to Matsumoto in Japan, creating a line of guitars and basses significantly less expensive than the USA-built models (actually less than half the price). The Matsumoku factory had been producing guitars for export for some time, but the 1820 bass (alongside a number of guitar models and the 5120 electric acoustic bass) were the first Epiphone models to be made there. These new Epiphones were based on existing Matsumoku guitars, sharing body shapes, and hardware, but the Epiphone line was somewhat upgraded, with inlaid logos and a 2x2 peghead configuration. Over the course of the 70s, the Japanese output improved dramatically, and in many ways these early 70s models are a low point for the brand. Having said this, there are a lot worse guitars out there, and as well as being historically important, the 1820 bass can certainly provide the goods when required.

1981 Gibson Marauder

1981 Gibson MarauderProduction of Bill Lawrence's Gibson Marauder began in 1974, with production peaking in 1978. But by 1980 the model was officially discontinued, though very small numbers slipped out as late as spring 1981. Over 7000 examples shipped between 1974 and 1979, and although no totals are available for 1980 and 1981, it is unlikely production reached three figures in either of these years. These final Marauders were all assembled at the Gibson Nashville plant, and had some nice features not available through the later years of production, such as a rosewood fretboard, and in this case, an opaque 'Devil Red' finish. It's a great looking and fine playing guitar!

1971 'Pick Epiphone' Catalog

1971 Pick Epiphone catalogWhen Epiphone production moved from Kalamazoo to the Matsumoku plant in Japan, a whole new range of electric, flattop and classic acoustic guitars was launched. Between late 1970 and 1972 the new models were launched and refined. This 'folder' catalog contains various inserts released over these years detailing four electric six-strings (ET-270, ET-275, ET-278, and thinline EA-250), three bass guitars (ET-280, ET-285, and thinline EA-260), three folk/steel acoustics, four jumbo flattop acoustics, two 12-string jumbos, four classic acoustics, and a banjo.

1981 'Gibson Specials' Pre-Owners Manual

1981 Gibson Specials Pre-Owners Manual'Gibson Specials' was part of the June 1981 pre-owners manual series, but unlike the other folders contained a mish-mash of different guitars: limited editions, test marketing and close outs. "You will find the unusual, the brand-new, and the bargain within this folder". End of line 70s guitars like the Marauder, S-1, and L-6S Custom mixed in with brand new models the The V, The Explorer and the Flying V Bass.
It was the largest folder in the series, with 24 inserts, (19 guitars and 5 basses): Guitars: 335-S Standard, Melody Maker Double, Marauder, L-6S Custom, S-1, RD Artist, Firebird, Firebird II, Flying V, Flying V-II, The V, Explorer, Explorer II, The Explorer, The "SG" Standard, Les Paul Artist, Les Paul Artisan, ES-335 Heritage, ES-175/CC Basses: Grabber, G-3, L-9S, RD Artist Bass, Flying V Bass

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bass

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bass Rose-Morris were selling Shaftesbury-branded Rickenbacker copy instruments from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. The 3263 bass was one of the first models, (alongside the 3261 six string and 3262 twelve string) available from late 1968 until about 1974. The earliest incarnation was a set neck bass, produced very briefly in Japan. But production quickly moved to Italy. This bolt-on neck example was built by Eko, in Recanati, using the same hardware and pickups as fitted to Eko, and Vox basses built around the same time. It's certainly a fine looking bass, and not a bad player either.

1961 Hohner Zambesi

1961 Hohner Zambesi This very early, and pretty rare British-built guitar is branded Hohner London. Hohner were, of course, a German company, better known for their harmonicas and accordions, but they were keenly expanding into guitars at the birth of the 1960s. This model, along with the Hohner Amazon and (particularly) the Hohner Holborn, bear some similarity with Vox guitars of the same period; furniture manufacturer Stuart Darkins constructed bodies and necks for both brands, with Fenton Weill assembling them using their hardware and pickups. These guitars do have some hardware peculiarities, and they are not the most adjustable of instruments, but they actually play very nicely, being solidly built out of some very nice woods. Check out the video on this page.

1963 Vox Super Ace

1963 Vox Super Ace The Vox Super Ace was a mid-priced British solid body electric guitar, produced by JMI at their factory in Dartford, Kent. It was broadly modelled on the Fender Stratocaster, and a sibling model to the dual-pickup Vox Ace. Both the Ace, and Super Ace (along with several other models), were redesigned in 1963 with a new body shape, headstock style, and pickup layout - only increasing the resemblance to the aforementioned Fender. The Super Ace had a 1963 price tag of £47 5S. It's a pretty nice playing guitar with some lovely sounds - check out the videos on this page, and in the Vintage Guitar and Bass supporting members area

1966 Vox New Escort

1966 Vox New Escort The Vox New Escort was Vox's version of the Fender Telecaster, at a time when American guitars were out of reach for most British musicians. It was made by JMI in England, for the British market, and unlike the majority of other models, didn't have an Italian-made equivalent. But the New Escort wasn't a slavish Fender copy, adding Vox's stylish teardrop headstock to the tele-style body, with a stop tailpiece and two Vox V2 single coil pickups. And it's a pretty substantial, and nice playing guitar, with a very comfortable neck. Check out the images, specifications, and watch a video of it in action. There is also extra content in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin' Care

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin Care Catalog scan. The 1969 Fender Lovin' Care catalog consisted of 48 pages of electric guitars, basses, amplifiers, steel guitars, acoustic guitars, banjos and keyboards. Like the previous catalog, this featured the company's guitars in a variety of interesting settings around California, from the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, to the Hollywood Bowl. Several instruments were making their first appearance amongst it's pages: the Telecaster bass, Montego and LTD jazz guitars, and the Redondo acoustic. It was the final catalog appearance, however, of the Electric XII, Bass V, Duo-Sonic, Coronado I and Coronado Bass I.

1973 Eko Ranger Folk

1973 Eko Ranger Folk The Eko Ranger series of guitars was incredibly popular in the second half of the 1960s and through the 1970s, selling in very large numbers. The Ranger Folk was 1 1/4" smaller, and 1" shallower than the Ranger VI and XII - and with a narrower waist. Not a bad guitar; a little quiet, but pretty playable. These were great value in 1973, and because they sold so many, they are easy to find and excellent value today.

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitar

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitar The Symphonic bass was built in the UK, by Vox parent company JMI. It was the Vox equivalent to the Fender Precision bass, and was one of the most expensive Vox guitars produced. It was actually a great playing bass, rather similar to the Precision in feel and sound, but was probably just too expensive compared to an actual Fender and consequently sold poorly. When Vox hit financial problems in 1968, unsold guitars and basses were passed on to Dallas Arbiter, who briefly sold the excess Symphonic bass stock as model 4537. This bass, although with a neck date of February 1966, was most likely one of the unsold Vox guitars sold on by Dallas Arbiter. Check out the bass, and the two video demos through 1960s Ampeg and WEM amplifiers.

1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

1968 Shaftesbury catalogThe 1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog was just four pages long, and contained four guitar models: the six string Barney Kessel-style 3264; and three Rickenbacker-styled semi-acoustic models: the six-string 3261, the twelve string 3262 and the 3263 bass. Shaftesbury was the house-brand of major UK distributor Rose-Morris, and seems to have been launched as a response to the company's loss of it's distribution deal with Rickenbacker. The guitars were mid-priced, and built in (initially) Japan, and later Italy, by Eko

1970 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns Celebrated Classics' catalog

1970 Rose_Morris catalog1970 Rose-Morris catalog, dated April 1970. It featured 6 electric guitars, 32 acoustic guitars, 3 basses and 1 steel guitar. It contains the following instruments, over 20 pages: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3262, 3264, 3265, 3400; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Colorado, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12; Aria 1674, 1675, 1676, 1679, 1680, 1695, 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk; Rose-Morris 15-11, Kansas, Georgian, Florida; Suzuki 1663, 1664, 1665, 3054, 3055, 3060; Tatay 1713, 1714, 1715; Peerless 3052; Steel guitar: Aria 3425

1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

1971 Rose_Morris catalogThe sixteen-page 1971 Rose-Morris catalog featured electric guitars by Rose-Morris' own brand, Shaftesbury, and budget brand Top Twenty; aswell as acoustics by Eko, Aria, and for the first time Ovation. The catalog contains the following instruments: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3402; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Ovation: Balladeer, 12 String, Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell 12 string; Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12, Colorado, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Studio 'L'; Rose-Morris Florida; Aria 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk

1972 Fender Precision bass

1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!

1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalog Hagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner President The President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.

1971 Gibson Les Paul Recording guitar owners manual

1971 Gibson Les Paul Recording guitar owners manual The newly designed Les Paul Recording guitar was released in 1971, in many ways as an updated version of the Les Paul Professional that had debuted two years earlier in 1969. The new guitar came with a new owners manual explaining the (somewhat complicated) controls, their operation, and giving other specifications, including recommended strings, action and control settings. Compare with the broadly similar owners manual for the Les Paul Personal / Professional