2016 Gibson Firebird - Judged Too Quick

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by andrewsrea, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    So this is for all the folks who posted on my thread, initially reviewing the 2016 Firebird I got last weekend. And, for those who might be contemplating acquiring one. This is a small retraction / clarification / change of heart?

    That review was out of the box, tune it and play it. Since then, I cleaned and rejuvenated the neck, restrung with DR Veritas 9's (it had 10's) - I tried the stop tailpiece overwrap, adjusted action, truss and intonation. Swapped the black knobs for the 1963 gold types. Hit it with some Stew Mac Preservation Polish. Reset the pickup height.

    All my review still stands on the balance, playablity, tuning exactness and IMHO, coolness vibe this exudes.

    The retraction: the stock pickups are really very good. I would say like a great classic set of Dimarzio Dual-sound pickups.

    The original problem was the strings (the 10's were Gibson and could have been original) and the pickup height was too high. Lowering until it treated the front end of the amp right, did the trick. So stock, I'd say Gibson was gunning for 'articulate' and nailed it.

    Set up right and in the Twin or Plexi modes, it was very easy to get tones from the Cars, Foreigner, Black Sabbath (when Tommi used P-90 type pups), etc. Edgy clean, tight and crunchy. I dialed a hair of treble from my usual settings to help.

    For someone who gravitates to classic rock / Texas blues (ala: Johnny Winter), you'll have a difficult time getting the feel and tone with the stock pups. A good balanced set with proper magnet calibration, yields a more bouncy & open sound. So, I am still going to wind a new set for it over the next few days.

    FYI: the overwrap.
    The downside to neck-thru guitars (i.e.: neck and body are one continuous piece), is it is harder for the manufacturer to quickly get the neck angles perfect in production, compared to bolt on and glued in necks. This has a neck angle and fretboard height which requires a higher bridge height and creates a very sharp break-angle from the stop tailpiece, if you have the stop in the full-down position. The guitar came with the stop higher than I've ever experienced and it seemed odd. I like the full-down position and believe it helps with resonance. So, I overwrapped the strings on the stop.

    Results: since I am not familiar with this guitar yet, I am not sure how much each recent change contributed to the sustain and playability. I can tell you it sustains much better and the bends are way easier.

    PS: Tuning was quick, easy and exact. I have no idea why this concept did not erupt and why Steinberger ceased production. It is basically a 3/8 bolt with a thumb screw end and a string hole in the other end. The bolt goes through a threaded ferrule, then gets capped with a 'T' nut that locks the string. To change a string, fully loosen the bolt so it protrudes out of the top face of the headstock, loosen the T nut, swap strings, pull the string tight and lock the 'T' nut and tighten the bolt via the thumb screw until tuned. If I was in a hurry, I'd say I could do 40 seconds a string.
     
  2. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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  3. Beyer160

    Beyer160 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that was exactly my problem with them- the guitar didn't sound like a Firebird. I put a Duncan SM1/SM3 combo in mine and it was just what the doctor ordered- nice open tone with a little extra kick in the bridge pickup. I didn't even feel the need to split the SM3, it was surprisingly clear sounding for being overwound. YMMV.
     
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  4. jimytheassassin

    jimytheassassin Well-Known Member

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    I missed the initial thread on this it seems but I like this review here. I’m glad to see it improved in some ways with more fiddling. Something about firebirds have always spoken to me. They just look so cool. This all reminds me, my guitars are so overdue for a setup or even a simple string change. I used to be religious about it but not so much anymore. My main axe had one string changed (which broke during the last song of a performance) two years ago and the remaining 5 are at least 3 years old. Lol. Maybe I should put this on my to-do list. The preservation oil? Good stuff?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    I have a set of SM3 in my AD2300Jr. I like them a lot, but have to roll the mids a little from my standard amp settting when I use them. I first used the Duncan SM3 in a 1965 Wilshire, which was heaven with the stock neck (the original bridge pup was a dog and the original neck was pristine).
     
  6. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    Formby's Preservation Oil. A little heavier and longer lasting than lemon oil and a little lighter than guns-stock oil or tung oil. Be careful - don't let it penetrate a nitro finish. Wipe off the excess from finished portions of the guitar, with a touch of Naptha.
     
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  7. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    That's my impression of the pups when I got some time to play with a fb at the Gibson booth. The specs make it seem a horror show but in person they seemed quite usable. I dont know how they compare to original '64s. (Where the hell do I find an original fb to compare to?)
    I only have a washburn fb copy. I've had a love hate relationship to it. From the beginning its played amazing but I hate the pups. I did like the tone when I borrowed a valetronix amp once but through my mustang floor or direct through my tube amp I hated it. Just unlistenable. And I have a very "flexible" ear. Bought some guitar fet replacements but I think they may be the same.
    Just recently I'm going high gain and I think the fb and pups are really hitting the spot for some UFO. So maybe every took has a purpose. Just need to find it.
     
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  8. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    More observations:

    The slim-taper 60's profile neck is a bit more prone to flexing. I played the crap out of it last night and noticed that I was pulling it sharp.
     
  9. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    Same for my washburn copy. Its also supposed to have a mahogany neck but the gibson is a laminate, right? I would think that should help at least a bit compared to mine. Way more flex than a LP. A FB does seem to be reaching the design limits of the mahogany neck. Just part of the different feel they have
     
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  10. Stig

    Stig Well-Known Member Supporting Member+

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    I TOLD you I liked the stock pickups!
     
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  11. msc_

    msc_ Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Your review brings back some memories. I wasn't very happy with my Firebird until I changed the strings. I actually moved up a gauge since it came with Cleartone 9's and I went to 10's and it was a night and day improvement.
     
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  12. Believer

    Believer Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, FBs are different animals, kinda like AC15s are different amps. You have to experiment to dial them in, they don't react the same way as LPs, SGs, or Marshalls or Fender amps. Mine is a keeper!
     
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  13. mindwave

    mindwave Well-Known Member

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    REal problem is your just missing that one little thing that make it a great guitar! FIREBIRD.jpg
     
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  14. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    Flame top or middle pickup?
     
  15. idiotsdelight

    idiotsdelight Well-Known Member

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    Vibrola.

    I was just looking at that same guitar last night mindwave.
     
  16. Niko Souza

    Niko Souza Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Awesome man, glad you fiddled with the fiddle to find a happy place. Pickup height is one of those magic things that I’ve only been messing with in the last year. Guitars, especially used ones, are so often just setup a little off. Change a little and it opens up and bonds with you. I have more than a couple guitars I got rid of that if I knew more I may have been able to salvage. Live and learn I guess.

    Enjoy that bird. Killer guitar and just a classic.
     
  17. jamdogg

    jamdogg Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    So the top wrapping allows you to lower the TP some?
     

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