NGD 2013 Firebird in white - vibrola talk

hi13ts

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Hello everyone, I wanted to share that I was finally able to land a white Firebird after years and years of missed opportunities and patience. When I was in high school and learning guitar, the Firebird never caught my eye, thinking it to be too loud of a design (but not quite as much as an Explorer or Flying V). I thought it was much prettier than an Explorer and remember seeing David Hidalgo make good use of one in the first Crossroads Festival video. It wasn't until seeing Tim Skold use it in Manson's band did I realize how multi-faceted it was. Always thought it was a Stratty Gibson, not thinking it would go well with heavier stuff, but he made good use of it with his stack of SLPs. He played a searing white Firebird, similar to what David was playing. From then on I thought to myself that I needed to get one down the line. That was a good 15 or so years ago and I finally came across one that was in great shape and a good price. It's a 2013 (one of the better Gibson years in my opinion, right after the rosewood fiasco during 2011-2012), so it has the multi-level headstock decal, Steinberger tuners, and 300k linear volume pots. It actually sounded great stock, but I switched the pots to 500k audio pots and wired the caps 50s style and there's a new brilliance to it. The pickups are hot and searing, but articulate and with character. The Steinberger tuners are a curious design that works quite well and is very easy to use. I was surprised at how great and versatile it sounded. It truly covered all the ground I needed, even going towards heavy territory. Entirely different than a normal mahogany/humbucker sound; it's definitely it's own thing. Very happy with the acquisition after years of thinking of it.


I'm a sucker for vintage aesthetics and that includes a long Maestro vibrola on a Firebird V. For a short while, I used a Duesenberg Les Trem II, which worked very well and sounded great; almost like the stock stop-bar. However, I really wanted the vibe of a vibrola, so I found an aftermarket version made by WD and installed it. It definitely looks the part and operates as expected, but it 100% was a detriment to the tone and sustain. Like night and day difference for the worse. I have a similar issue with my SGS3. It came with the sideways vibrola, but I got a Crazyparts Maestro for it, thinking it may give me the tonal focus I wanted. It did not. In fact, it sounded about the same as the sideways vibrola. I was thinking because the sideways vibrola is essentially a floating trapeze tailpiece, it affected the tone in an airy, bright sort of way. One that I'm not particularly fond of. I found that both this WD vibrola on the Firebird and the Crazyparts on the SG have a strong spring angle that tilts back and touches the back of the strings. Because of its angle the spring is actually not touching the body is essentially floating. I believe this responsible for the tonal difference.


After some reading, I found that historically, the spring tension on these trems were not consistent and that many of them came that way. In fact, some people preferred it that way because they can swing the arm back and it touches the body or is much closer in order to fit in a case. I actually prefer the opposite, where the angle is parallel and pressed on top of the body. I found this out when I got the SG Original back in 2013. It was one of the first to come out of the factory so it was actually made in 2012. The first batch had the vibrola with that stiff bent back angle. I contacted Gibson about it because it was a nightmare to keep in tune and they actually admitted mistake and sent me a new vibrola. This one's bent steel was apparently weaker where under string tension, it pressed against the top of the body and laid completely parallel to it. The tuning stability and tone was significantly better. It took divebomb abuse like a champ and roared close to a Les Paul. It was no longer like a floating trapeze tailpiece. I had that guitar as my main one for a long time and truly regret selling it some days. I found out later that many of the SGs with Maestros in 2013-2014 had the same angle that I had and they all roared and took abuse well. I've seen that many aftermarket vibrolas have the stiffer spring angle that bends back and have yet to find one that was as good the one I had on my SG Original. I've read "complaints" of the Allparts version being parallel with the body so I found one on eBay and ordered. Currently awaiting its arrival. I'm concerned, however, that it will not match the angle I'm looking for. I've seen the new vibrolas coming on both Custom Shop and the production line SGs and they're parallel, but they're not pressed on the body. I believe that aspect is what makes the tonal difference I'm looking for. Does anyone know where I can procure a vibrola that has that spring angle? Which manufacturer did Gibson get it from?


I guess I'll find out if the Allparts version meets my desires when I get it. I'll also contact Gibson and relay this question. Hopefully they can get me more specifics on their manufacturer or any options I may have.


I appreciate you sticking through my ramble. Link to pics below:


https://photos.app.goo.gl/49Tjr2tuvoUBKrUP6
 

mdubya

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TLDR, so no idea if you are asking a question.

Sweet 'Bird. The Maestro looks great on there. :applause::dude::thumb:

I love my FB V with Maestro.
 

endial

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Dang, that thing is beautiful.

Congrats!
 


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