I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

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bleachboy
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I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by bleachboy » Sat May 23, 2020 12:50 am

Hello everybody,

I recently purchased my very first vintage Gibson guitar, a 1968 non reverse Firebird, sunburst finish. I bought it from Rivington Guitars’ Reverb shop (I live in France, that shop is in NYC). The price was not very high, and rightly so because it’s a strange Bird indeed, with lots of non original parts and mods.

The serial number, stamped on the back of the headstock is 955547, which dates the guitar to 1968, near the end of production.

- The pickups are not original (as listed). These are Duncan SM3 mini-humbuckers (in a normal 2 pickup configuration).

- Some of the pots look original, some others don’t (the listing said original pots). The one that does look original has the 13764?? stamped number on top if it. The others have 1376426 stamped on the side. Which makes all 4 of them CTS pots dated 1964.

- There is a switchcraft jack in place of the original one.

- Tuners have been replaced by Schallers (as written in the listing).

- There are numerous holes in the body, showing what might have been the three holes for the original short Vibrola, and four small holes that could have been holes for a Bigsby vibrato.

- It came with an original lightning bolt compensated wraparound bridge/tailpiece. It it compensated for a wound G string, and looks like the real deal in every aspect. However, the studs are not original, there are Tonepros.

- The original slider (and often problematic) switch was replaced with a regular three-way toggle switch, as is often done with those guitars.

Here’s what’s weird about that guitar:

- There is no copper plate inside the pots cavity.

- Some pots look legit, others I’m not quite sure about.

- There is no strap button on the heel of the guitar, nor is there a hole for it, there’s only one on the bout (back of the neck). I’ve read that most if not all Birds came with a strap button both on the bout and the heel.

- When I unscrewed the pickguard, I noticed that the guitar cavity had three pickup routes, whereas the guitar only has 2 pickups and the pickguard is routed for 2 pickups too. The listing made no mention of this. EDIT: after further research, it seems that all Non Reverse Birds were factory routed for three pickups.

- The hole for the bottom right screw in the pickguard (bottom « horn ») is weird, I can’t put a screw there, it doesn’t screw into the wood, but directly into the « empty » cavity, therefore is useless.

For the Firebird experts out there, I would appreciate any thoughts or opinions about this guitar.
Does it seem legit to you ? Frankenbird or Fakebird ? Possibly a former Firebird III with 3 P90’s turned into Firebird V ?

There’s a lot of odd details about it. However it does feel and sound incredible. It is a pretty lightweigh guitar, and super resonant (even when unplugged). The neck is also absolutely perfect, chunky but not too much.


Any help would be appreciated. Thank you so much.

Louis

Sorry for all the links, I don’t know how to display the pictures directly on my post.

https://ibb.co/71B7t8R
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https://ibb.co/bB7s3YH
https://ibb.co/wNhxYFr
https://ibb.co/6YbQ47x
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https://ibb.co/W3Rdt5P
https://ibb.co/zRX8NTW
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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by mgeek » Sat May 23, 2020 2:01 am

bleachboy wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 12:50 am


- When I unscrewed the pickguard, I noticed that the guitar cavity had three pickup routes, whereas the guitar only has 2 pickups and the pickguard is routed for 2 pickups too. The listing made no mention of this. EDIT: after further research, it seems that all Non Reverse Birds were factory routed for three pickups.

- The hole for the bottom right screw in the pickguard (bottom « horn ») is weird, I can’t put a screw there, it doesn’t screw into the wood, but directly into the « empty » cavity, therefore is useless.

This guitar is *exactly* what it was sold to you as, and all the things you find mysterious about it ... come under 'completely acceptable for a player '68 Firebird, imo.

Quibbling about pots makes sense on a collector grade (ugh, those words... but you know what I mean) vintage piece, but on a guitar that doesn't even have original pickups, it doesn't matter in the slightest. In addition to that, they ARE all 1964 pots, therefore, they are all original.

Bodies being routed for the full complement of pickups on models where there is an option is standard for every maker, different pots within the same guitar, brass shielding there on one and not another, all very typical, nothing is set in stone.

Re the screw hole: stick a couple of shredded bits of matchstick in there, dab of superglue, too if you like. Enjoy your newly tightened screw hole. This also comes under 'completely acceptable on a player grade 52 year old guitar you got for a good price' ;)

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by BoringPostcards » Sat May 23, 2020 2:45 am

Friendly reminder that this model is NOT an offset, thus it's posted in the wrong section of the forum.
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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by bleachboy » Sat May 23, 2020 3:05 am

Thank you very much !

The main thing that « worried » me a bit about this guitar is the absence of strap button (and the corresponding hole) on the upper horn of the guitar. This is the one thing I have never seen on any other NR Firebird.

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by zhivago » Sat May 23, 2020 3:12 am

BoringPostcards wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 2:45 am
Friendly reminder that this model is NOT an offset, thus it's posted in the wrong section of the forum.
Indeed. I just moved the topic to the relevant section. :)
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bleachboy
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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by bleachboy » Sat May 23, 2020 3:36 am

zhivago wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:12 am
BoringPostcards wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 2:45 am
Friendly reminder that this model is NOT an offset, thus it's posted in the wrong section of the forum.
Indeed. I just moved the topic to the relevant section. :)
Thank you !

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by fuzzjunkie » Sat May 23, 2020 6:28 am

The pick guard screw that doesn’t attach to wood, but instead is over the switch cavity sounds like pick guard shrinkage. It looks like it too as the guard doesn’t follow the curve of the body in the photo. Is there are corresponding hole in the body nearby? Otherwise the screw hole in the pick guard might have been added later to stop the shrinking, but they missed the wood when they drilled it. I don’t know much about Gibson guitars though.

The missing heel guitar strap button might be missing because it would have been on the end of a Bigsby, or Vibrola. It is common on vintage Gretsch and other hollow and semi hollow guitars that have that appliance to have the guitar strap attach the the button on there. Again, just speculation, don’t know much about Gibson’s.

Everything else looks and sounds like normal mods, especially the tuners. Pots were bought in bulk. Not that surprised they are from 1964. It’s more surprising that they weren’t all replaced when the pickups were changed.

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by Pacafeliz » Sat May 23, 2020 7:47 am

That is a VERY SEXY Firebird and I'd love to play it just like it is! :? :-*
i love delay SO much ...that i procrastinate all the time.

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by Gavanti » Sat May 23, 2020 7:50 am

Agreed with the others about everything being acceptable for a heavy players' grade NRFB. I also have a '68 beater NRFBIII, and it does not have a strap button on the upper horn, only on the neck heel. Also, I have a similar situation with pickguard shrinkage. One of the previous owners solved this with a long screw that anchors at the bottom of the cavity.

The only think that looks significantly different about yours is the pickup routing. Mine has a different shape routing and wooden dividers between the pickups (see below), but I found another image (also below) with similar routing to yours.

There were some Japanese copy NRFB's, but they're not common, and many don't have a set neck, so it's really unlikely this is one of them

Enjoy it. These are great guitars! And player's grade means you can have a great time playing it out without worrying so much.

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by bleachboy » Sat May 23, 2020 7:52 am

Actually I meant the strap button at the upper horn of the guitar. AFAIK, every Firebird came stock with three strap buttons, one at t he back of the end of the neck (like on the 335’s), one at the upper horn (like on the Les Paul’s) and the normal one at the tail end of the guitar. FB’s are notorious for their lack of balance, hence the three strap buttons. On mine, there is only two. No strap button (or hole) on the horn. That’s the only thing I can’t quite understand on this guitar.
Needless to say it plays and sounds awesome !!

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by bleachboy » Sat May 23, 2020 7:54 am

Wow Gavanti thanks for that valuable info. It’s reassuring that your 68’ didn’t have the strap hole on the horn !! Thank you so much !
@fuzzjunkie: no there is no corresponding hole on the body where that pickguard screw is supposed to be

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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by cincinnatiharry » Mon May 25, 2020 3:10 am

Those Seymour Duncan pickups are okay. I have been tone chasing on Firebirds for about 12 years now and I have tried MANY pickups including those... other than the Gibson originals from the 1960s, the Lollar Firebird pickups are the best IMHO.

For a time I even had GFS “Liverpool” AlNiCo pickups in my sunburst Firebird, interesting!

The absolute worst Firebird pickups are the ceramic pickups made by Gibson that they’ve put in Firebirds that last 20 years.

That said, really doesn’t matter: it’s a sweet guitar. I have been looking for a black “non-reverse” for a while now.

If you want to get down into the minutiae of what is or isn’t original the Baby Boomers on the Les Paul forum could help. Warning, be ready for the following:
  • Cork sniffing snobbery
  • Lynyrd Skynard references (all though Allen Collins played a “reverse”/original Firebird not the “non-reverse”)
  • This phrase: “tone is in the fingers”
  • Something something Joe Bonamassa
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Some of my Firebirds:

Image
Image
Last edited by cincinnatiharry on Mon May 25, 2020 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by cincinnatiharry » Mon May 25, 2020 3:41 am

BoringPostcards wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 2:45 am
Friendly reminder that this model is NOT an offset, thus it's posted in the wrong section of the forum.
Yeah everyone on here shits twice and dies when you put a Firebird in the offset forum >:(
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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by BoringPostcards » Mon May 25, 2020 5:25 am

cincinnatiharry wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:41 am
BoringPostcards wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 2:45 am
Friendly reminder that this model is NOT an offset, thus it's posted in the wrong section of the forum.
Yeah everyone on here shits twice and dies when you put a Firebird in the offset forum >:(
Ha ha, no. It's offsetguitars.com, so there is a place for offsets and a place for non offsets.
Firebirds happen to not be offset, as per the original Leo Fender patent design offset waist.

There seems to be a misunderstanding that any unusual or asymmetric shape is an offset, when it is really just all about that waist. Non reverse FBs have a straight waist and standard FBs have a tiny angle of reverse offset, which doesn't count because a true offset waist is a FUNCTIONAL design element meant to facilitate seated playstyle.

By the way, I LOVE Firebirds. They are one of my favorite Gibson models of all time.
I've never seen a non reverse model in the wild. I would love to try one.
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Re: I need help to I.D my 1968 « mystery » Firebird

Post by bleachboy » Tue May 26, 2020 7:51 am

@Cincinnatiharry: thanks !
Yes those pickups sound actually pretty good (esp. the neck PU). Have you tried Q pickups for mini humbuckers ? I’ve read many raving reviews about them. The specs look very promising, and the price is actually very nice ! https://reverb.com/uk/item/8224072-fire ... -q-pickups

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