Gibson's only true offset design became an instant hit with players like Johnny Winter, Brian Jones, and Keith Richards, offering a unique solidbody tone and progressive construction methods.
Often lost in a sea of its iconic counterparts, Gibson's Firebird model is anything but lacking in the tone and looks department. It's fundamental departure from the familiar solidbody electric designs of the 50s and early 60s combined with a new pickup design offered players a pretty groundbreaking experience.
This is a truly fantastic example of the original twin-pickup Firebird model known as the Firebird III. By all accounts, this guitar was completed in early 1964, just a few months after its introduction. A completely undisturbed wiring harness shows original pot codes dating the 43rd week of 1963 all tied to the original Firebird pickups that have also remained untouched.
The neck-through body shows off its original Sunburst finish with very minimal wear or lacquer checking, which is quite impressive considering its age. The neck profile is in line with other '63 Gibsons we've encountered, remaining slimmer overall in comparison to a true 1964 neck, but with a moderately sizable taper. Many SGs from 1962-1963 share a similar profile. The original Kluson banjo tuners really set off the look of the unique headstock design, and while often regarded as a bit clumsy in terms of functionality, continue to work well on this guitar.
Coming in a few ounces under 8lbs, this slim-body "offset" non-reverse 'bird is super comfortable seated or strapped. It's got great acoustic resonance as well, particularly favoring A and C chords/notes that really excite the whole guitar with a ton of energy. That's a big takeaway with a guitar like this - the neck-through construction rings out from the headstock all the way through in a way that other solidbodies don't. Definitely a nod to the design and the particular quality of this guitar.
The Firebird pickups have strong output with the typical clear, defined top end with an equally powerful upper midrange presence. The neck pickup has a vocal-like quality that makes it an excellent choice for a slide player, but with a tweak of the tone knob, you can warm things up for a little fatter and richer blues tone. The bridge pickup sizzles and barks with the best of them, combining the bite of a P90 and a Telecaster bridge pickup with the hum-cancelling and thicker fundamental found in a humbucker. These guitars cut through a mix like none other!
As mentioned prior, its condition straddles the line between closet queen and early player favorite - after all, the original owner preferred this guitar as a daily driver over her 1959 Fender Stratocaster (featured alongside this guitar in the same collection). It came in with a very early set of heavy flatwound strings (included in the case) with some light fret wear in the 1st position along with some light pick scratches just off the edge of the bass-side neck/body wing transition.
All of the nickel-plated hardware is original to the guitar, including the short vibrola and its original "spoon handle" arm. The original gold reflector knobs are in excellent shape with very little fading or wear, if at all. The pickguard shows its age perhaps the most, having shrunken at almost all of its anchor points, with some cracked and separated edges. It's still holding on fairly well, and even with multiple exacting repro guards attempted, none quite fit right on the guitar - maybe a testament to the hand-fitment nature of the orientation? Either way, we're leaving it be!
It has remained crack and break free all its life, which is often a minor miracle with vintage Firebirds. Its original rectangle hardshell case is also very clean inside and out. Lightly played, well-preserved examples of these early Firebirds are very difficult to find. If you've been angling for the right Gibson offset to come across your radar, this one-owner beauty would certainly do the trick!