Gibson / Firebird III / 1964 / Sunburst / Guitar
Here’s something you don’t see every day - an original, no-issues 1964 Gibson Firebird III - in the UK. Gibson made just a little over 1,000 of these in 1964, and many have suffered headstock breaks. They’re very hard to find on this side of the Atlantic.
This guitar is completely original, with the possible exception of the frets, although I believe they’re original as well. It has a few scrapes and dings (see photos), but is in very good condition for being 54 years old. Tom Petty (RIP) and Mike Campbell were two of the notable Firebird players, along with, of course, Johnny Winter.
If you haven’t played an original “reverse” Firebird (before they changed the body and construction in 1965), you’re in for a treat. Although they’re often called a “Strat on steroids”, they’re really more than that. Think humbucking pickups with a little more bite and clarity, with unmatched access to the upper frets. The bridge pickup can be clean and bright, but really gets interesting into a good distorted amp. The neck is full and throaty, but never gets muddy. And the two pickups together produce about the nicest shimmery sound you could want.
One nice thing about the Firebird III is that it can be used with the vibrato, which gives a slightly more ethereal sound, or you can stow the vibrato in the case and wrap the strings around the bridge, which takes it directly into serious rock’n’roll territory, like a Les Paul Special.
This example is, as I said, all original. The fret nibs are little smaller than on many vintage Gibsons, but they’re the correct flat, wide shape, leading me to believe they’re as they came from the factory. They have lots of life left, and the guitar plays really well. Everything else is factory - finish, bridge, tuners, pots and tone caps, and the case… almost.
This example of a Firebird III has a customized case, decorated with a number of period patches and insignia. My guess is that either the original owner or the original owner’s older brother served in Viet Nam, because there are a number of US Army insignia patches, as well as several other ’60’s car-related patches, including a patch and an insignia of the US muscle car of the time which was also called a Firebird. It’s fascinating and very cool example of US pop culture from the 1960’s.
I’ve tried to show everything in the photos and videos, but please contact me if you have any questions.
Shipping is free to the UK. Please contact for shipping costs to your destination if outside the UK.
Thanks for looking!
Nine Ball Guitars, UK
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About Nine Ball Guitars
I've been collecting, buying and selling modern and vintage guitars for thirty years, first in the US, where I was born and lived for many years, and now, after moving first to London and now splitting my time between Devon and southwest France. My goal for 9Ball is to offer European guitar players and collectors an alternative to the high prices usually asked for guitars and amplifiers on this side of the ocean, along with a good selection of guitars on hand here in France, and a friendly and trustworthy partner in selecting your next guitar or amplifier.
Here are a few comments from our customers:
"Wow! What a fantastic Les Paul! Thanks for packing it so well. Thanks very much for such a pleasant and easy transaction." TM, Spain
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We offer a 72 hour approval period on all our guitars. Our goal is for you to be happy with your guitar. A full refund (less shipping costs) will be issued, provided the instrument is returned to us in the same condition as it left us.
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