To Firebird, or not to Firebird...

Gar

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I sold my firebird to buy my main guitar, a les paul. Eventually I bought another firebird and now I never use the les paul. Love the sound of it. I have since bought a non reverse firebird too. The firebird seems to be cleaner, a bit more clarity, more strat like but with power. Definately a cool sound that I haven't found in other guitars. They have their drawbacks, they feel massive, the headstock is long, the tuners aren't conventional and the balance can be a bit off. No big isssues though.
 

ARandall

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The vintage type firbird has quite strat-like low output pickups. It is something quite different to the usual Gibson tone. If you alkready own the typical humbucking Gibson, then the bird is a great addition.
 

2manyGuitars

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Always dreamed of owning a Firebird and eventually got my dream guitar. I picked up a Firebird VII with 3 pickups and a Maestro.

When Gibson put the Firebird back into regular production, they decided to go with super-high output, ceramic mini humbuckers. I don’t know their reasoning behind this because they sound nothing like the vintage tone that made those instruments so sought after. The output is somewhere in the 16k to 17k range and the ceramic magnets made them really shrill.

I tried everything I could to get a decent tone out of that VII but nothing worked. I looked into replacements but because they were gold, my only option was special order Lollars. Rather than spend almost $700 on replacements, I sold the guitar.

EDIT: See the post below regarding the pickups.
Fast forward a couple a years ago and I was thrilled to see that Gibson smartened up and put alnico pickups in the Firebird. The added bonus is that at the same time, they added Pelham Blue as a standard color. I now have my dream Firebird in PB with useable, decent sounding pickups.

Double check the years, but I’m pretty sure it was at least the ‘90s up until a couple of years ago. You may prefer the high output ones, but in case you happen to try one and don’t like it, you know there’s a different version available.
 
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zombiwoof

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Always dreamed of owning a Firebird and eventually got my dream guitar. I picked up a Firebird VII with 3 pickups and a Maestro.

When Gibson put the Firebird back into regular production, they decided to go with super-high output, ceramic mini humbuckers. I don’t know their reasoning behind this because they sound nothing like the vintage tone that made those instruments so sought after. The output is somewhere in the 16k to 17k range and the ceramic magnets made them really shrill.

I tried everything I could to get a decent tone out of that VII but nothing worked. I looked into replacements but because they were gold, my only option was special order Lollars. Rather than spend almost $700 on replacements, I sold the guitar.

Fast forward a couple a years ago and I was thrilled to see that Gibson smartened up and put alnico pickups in the Firebird. The added bonus is that at the same time, they added Pelham Blue as a standard color. I now have my dream Firebird in PB with useable, decent sounding pickups.

Double check the years, but I’m pretty sure it was at least the ‘90s up until a couple of years ago. You may prefer the high output ones, but in case you happen to try one and don’t like it, you know there’s a different version available.
I haven't heard about Firebird pickups being AlNiCo these days, are you sure about that?. AFAIK they are still the hot ceramic things they've been for some time. And there are more inexpensive aftermarket vintage spec Firebird pickups on the market now.
Al
 

2manyGuitars

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I haven't heard about Firebird pickups being AlNiCo these days, are you sure about that?. AFAIK they are still the hot ceramic things they've been for some time. And there are more inexpensive aftermarket vintage spec Firebird pickups on the market now.
Al
I just looked at the specs on the Gibson legacy site and what do you know...
The 2015 to 2018 models show ceramic magnets. :dunno:
I remember specifically seeing alnico somewhere when I was looking again. But without corroborating evidence from Gibson, don’t believe a word I say.
 

flamesarewicked

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I had been looking at used ones in the 2010 and up range.. there’s a black 18 model from Sam ash on reverb for $1100.. great price but I’m not crazy about black on that one.. I’d prefer sunburst then white then PB as far as colors...

I believe Seymour Duncan makes Antiquites Mini hums for it... that would remedy a possible pickup change .. I think as of recent they come with 495 model pickups... and I think those are ceramic...
 
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bossaddict

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Since you tried one out and liked the feel, I say go for it. That's really the main caution that I give people who are Firebird-curious. They really are their own thing in terms of feel.
 

Cjsinla

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The funny thing is that Gibson sells a low-output, 6.4, alnico 2 pup. I don’t know why they don’t put them in the Firebirds.

 

Cozmik Cowboy

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I remember specifically seeing alnico somewhere when I was looking again. But without corroborating evidence from Gibson, don’t believe a word I say.
That's funny, because:

The funny thing is that Gibson sells a low-output, 6.4, alnico 2 pup. I don’t know why they don’t put them in the Firebirds.


In the link, Gibson states that the mini-'bucker came out in the late '60s; they were on Sheratons starting in 1960. So much for needing them for corroboration.........

But the Firebird p/up was different beast from the regular mini-'bucker anywho.
 

Cjsinla

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That's funny, because:




In the link, Gibson states that the mini-'bucker came out in the late '60s; they were on Sheratons starting in 1960. So much for needing them for corroboration.........

But the Firebird p/up was different beast from the regular mini-'bucker anywho.
Right, these are like the ones they put in Deluxes. But they’re probably more appropriate than the high-output Ceramics that they put in now.
 

Mike J.

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It‘s a darn large guitar. Keep that in mind. Firebirds sound beautiful, but they are pretty unhandy.
 

ARandall

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I'm not sure how long ago the pickup swapper looked around, but there are many Firebird replacement winders about now. So the stock pickup issue is less vital to the purchase.
 

Gar

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The stock pickups sound really good, there's no reason to swap in my opinion. They sound different to a paf but in a good way, more clarity and definition. Give them a proper go in a gig situation, they're a great pickup in their own right.
 

zombiwoof

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The stock pickups sound really good, there's no reason to swap in my opinion. They sound different to a paf but in a good way, more clarity and definition. Give them a proper go in a gig situation, they're a great pickup in their own right.
Unless you want the original Firebird sound, which many of us do.
Al
 

sLowBrian

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I lusted over Firebirds for a long time, probably 15 to 20 years.... last year I found myself able to buy a second hand 120th anniversary model and I have not regretted it. It plays beautifully, a little more "sweet and mellow" than my LP custom. I have tracked it on a couple of songs, and it sounds great in the studio! I have read about the neck balance issues, but I actually haven't experienced that myself. Maybe because I don't gig, I'm not having it hanging around my neck for a 30-40 minute set.... or maybe the balance issues have been remedied or maybe I'm just lucky! Either way, I love my Firebird and wouldn't part with it!
 

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mdubya

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By all means, get a Firebird!

My non-reverse is my #1. I am on the prowl for a reverse with mini FB pickups and another non-reverse with P-90's.

Firebirds are wild guitars and full of attitude.

My old FB V had the sweetest rhythm tones in the middle position and on the neck, especially for clean r&b and funk.

Gratuitous photo of #1. The full size hb's make it sound more like an SG or V than a mini FB model.

 




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