Gibson Firebird III Solid Body Electric Guitar (1967)

Gibson  Firebird III Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1967)
$7,950.00 + shipping
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Item # 7920
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Gibson Firebird III Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1967), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 003605, Polaris White lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

One of Gibson's less heralded 1960s classics, the second-try "non-reverse" Firebird models were lower-priced, simplified versions of the earlier "reverse" body Firebird series guitars. Introduced in summer 1965, these new Firebirds were available through the late 1960s in ever dwindling quantities, but were never really considered a sales success.

This example of the midline-model Firebird III is finished in a superbly striking Polaris White, one of the special custom colors advertised for the line but in practice not often ordered. Gibson lore holds that most dealers simply ignored the special Firebird color chart brochure Gibson helpfully provided, as they were more interested in selling stock models off the wall. "If you've got a red one, they want a blue one" was the complaint, and whatever the truth, the solid color guitars are exponentially rarer than the standard sunburst models.

This Firebird III has a body of one-piece mahogany with a standard glued-in neck, far simpler to build than the earlier laminate neck-through-body Firebird design. The non-reverse III is particularly distinguished by offering not two but three plastic-covered P-90 pickups, an unusual combination that Gibson had not used before. Typically for the second half of 1965, this 'bird mounts all chrome plated hardware, including Gibson's "short" Vibrola unit with a plastic-tipped handle and the stud-mounted bridge. This guitar has an original Switchcraft toggle switch for pickup selection, not seen on most non-reverse Firebirds as they usually fitted a cheap slider switch.

The visible pot codes on this particular guitar date to the 26th week of 1966 and the serial number suggests shipment in 1967. The knobs are the "amp style" with a metal cap that first appeared in 1966-7, sometimes referred to as the "Witch Hat". The neck is narrower than earlier reverse Firebird necks, but not quite as insubstantial-feeling as period SG necks.

This is a great-sounding guitar, with powerful P-90 pickups that really growl when cranked. While the "non-reverse" Firebirds have often been discounted in Gibson history, they are very distinctive guitars unlike any other and are often excellent instruments. Extremely light, fast, and very stylish, this super-striking custom-color Firebird III is a fine example of an oft-underappreciated Gibson model, an unrepentant rocker's guitar.
Overall length is 43 3/8 in. (110.2 cm.), 13 7/16 in. (34.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is a well-preserved 'bird overall, with some maintenance work but no major damage or repair. There are NO headstock or control cavity cracks as are common with these instruments. There are small dings and finish rubs in a number of spots, but overall the white finish is well-preserved with no major loss and is also not heavily curdled or checked. The frets show some light wear but still have plenty of meat to them, and the guitar plays extremely well. The pickguard shows a couple of small repairs to shrinkage cracks by the screws, and the bird emblem has been repainted in by hand -- neatly, but visibly on close inspection.

One oddity of this guitar is the middle and neck pickups appear to have been reversed. Normally we would correct this, but on this guitar the tonal settings now in place (bridge alone, middle alone, or neck-and-bridge) are actually more useful for some styles than the stock wiring with an out-of-phase middle position. This can be altered if desired. Overall a GREAT looking and sounding Firebird, resplendent in its Arctic White livery complete in its original HSC. Excellent - Condition.