Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
rindcorp

Old Bird, New Bird

Recommended Posts

Hey - I'm pretty new to the forum. I have a Martin D-28 Marquis, but I've been thinking about getting a Hummingbird - a guitar I've always liked. Been playing one down at the local Guitar Center for the past few weeks. I read somewhere recently that someone thought the guitars coming from Bozeman right now are the best they've ever made. Anybody have any real world experience with this? Are the new Hummingbird's better? I've read some stuff about pick guards coming loose - is that happening with newer models?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly today's Bozeman acoustics are among the best they've ever made. You only thing you might compare them with is a really good vintage example. If you like 'Birds, you might look at one of the new ones with the torrefied tops. They get some love here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi - and welcome to the voliere of this place. Lots of Bird-lovers here.

 

Regarding your Q, you first have to define old and new. The model is 57 years old and have been through many phases.

These were all different - like variations over a theme, , , or an acoustic DNA-code.

 

The original ones - let's say from 1960 to 67 are absolutely different from the ones of today. But as said, connected like family.

 

Advice : Go YouTube and start the research in the headphones. All the generations/variations are represented there.

Then come back and ask again. You'll get good answers, , , but only after zooming in on what you like.

 

1 - Be aware of the adjustable bridges/saddle kontra the conventional ones.

2 - Be aware of the 1960 to 67 kontra the 1968 to 1970, but especially 1970s and forward.

3 - Regard everything from the late 80's, the 90's and further till now as contemporary good ones.

 

Have fun ^ See U later

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly today's Bozeman acoustics are among the best they've ever made. You only thing you might compare them with is a really good vintage example. If you like 'Birds, you might look at one of the new ones with the torrefied tops. They get some love here.

 

I've heard about those - I know a guy who regretted selling his. I've considered them, but was worried about longevity - this is a fairly new process - will it hold up over time? And secondly, I want that Hummingbird tone - this guitar, while nice, isn't the same. I know they also make a HB with an Adirondack top - which would also be different. Maybe I'm too much of a purist...?? But as you said, the new one's are among the best they've made - how new? Last 5 years? Are there years to avoid?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve owned a few Hummingbirds. The current Bozeman built guitars are wonderful instruments. The standard model is superb, and the Vintage spec model is great too, just with slightly different appointments.

 

My current Bird is a 1990, one of the earlier Bozeman built Birds, and it’s the best example I’ve played. Absolutely stellar instrument. It of course has the advantage of nearly 30yrs of aging and playing on its side, but I’d say any Hummingbird from ‘62-‘68 and then from ‘89-present day is worth investigating.

 

I also have a contemporary Bozeman built Dove (2011 but bought as NOS last year) which is a glorious guitar...a Dove is well worth trying if you like the Gibson square shoulder Dreadnought vibe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve owned a few Hummingbirds. The current Bozeman built guitars are wonderful instruments. The standard model is superb, and the Vintage spec model is great too, just with slightly different appointments.

 

My current Bird is a 1990, one of the earlier Bozeman built Birds, and it’s the best example I’ve played. Absolutely stellar instrument. It of course has the advantage of nearly 30yrs of aging and playing on its side, but I’d say any Hummingbird from ‘62-‘68 and then from ‘89-present day is worth investigating.

 

I also have a contemporary Bozeman built Dove (2011 but bought as NOS last year) which is a glorious guitar...a Dove is well worth trying if you like the Gibson square shoulder Dreadnought vibe.

 

Years ago, I played a Hummingbird at my local Guitar Center. Then I tried the Dove and fell in love! Really wanted that one for a while. I'm not sure if they have one in stock, but I will find out. Been playing a HB there these past few weeks and really digging it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One issue for some is the nut width. You'll encounter examples from the late 1960's width a narrow span that are difficult for some of us to play. My '65 has the conventional width, but I've owned a couple 66/67's that didn't suit me at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One issue for some is the nut width. You'll encounter examples from the late 1960's width a narrow span that are difficult for some of us to play. My '65 has the conventional width, but I've owned a couple 66/67's that didn't suit me at all.

 

One of the most surprising things about 1960s Hummingbirds - they're 25.5" scale length. I think the only year they were made with a 24.75" scale length may have been 1960 (not even sure about that). So '61-70s Birds were all long scale mahogany acoustics. They were loud instruments compared to the shorter scale Hummingbirds of today.

 

Check it out:

 

1961 - 25.4" FolkwayMusic

1961 - 25.5" Elderly

1961 - 25.5" Fretted Americana

1964 - 25.5" CreamCityMusic

1965 - 25.25" (weird length) GryphonStrings

1968 - 25.5" Fretted Americana

 

If you find or own one that is 24.75 - I would love to know! I have yet to find an example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Bozeman-made Hummingbird has the bracing carve found in the old ones. So none will be a spot-on reproduction of the original. As already noted though you will also not find an 1960s HB without the slim, fast playing neck (or whatever they called it) that Gibson went to in 1960. They will have either a 1 11/16" nut or a 1 5/8" nut depending on the year built (the change was a result of new automatic neck machines installed in 1965). So if you want a neck with a 1 3/4" nut you will need to stick with the Bozeman versions. And so it goes, so it goes . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most surprising things about 1960s Hummingbirds - they're 25.5" scale length. I think the only year they were made with a 24.75" scale length may have been 1960 (not even sure about that). So '61-70s Birds were all long scale mahogany acoustics. They were loud instruments compared to the shorter scale Hummingbirds of today.

Jikes, , , this is interesting. I'm sure most people here believe the 3 first-wave squares (H-bird, SJ, CW) were and still are 24,75 short-scale guitars.

And that there were/are few exceptions, which would be long-scale Dove-necks put on randomly here and there as Kalamazoo either confused, experimental or short of stock rolled the everyday production forward.

I need to measure mine again, , , or no I don't, I'm sure 3 of them are short and the 68'er (where the scale is known to have changed) is long.

Let's hear what others have to say here - can't wait to see this unfold.

Regarding volume, I'm afraid I disagree too. The old squares vary and ain't necessarily louder than the modern, post 1990 versions.

Btw. the Birds and a smaller # of SJs were long-scaled plus/minus 1990 before Bozeman and Ferguson made their mind up to focus and follow the original specs'n'virtues we treasure so much.

We'll see what happens.

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I recall Gibson Bozeman switched the 'bird from long to short around 1997.I have an '87 J-30 often referred to as the "blingless Hummingbird" and it's 24.75" so I have no idea what the '80s 'birds were. On the vintage shores I have seen both long and short, the majority being short. I too am interested to see this thread develop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Bozeman-made Hummingbird has the bracing carve found in the old ones. So none will be a spot-on reproduction of the original. As already noted though you will also not find an 1960s HB without the slim, fast playing neck (or whatever they called it) that Gibson went to in 1960. They will have either a 1 11/16" nut or a 1 5/8" nut depending on the year built (the change was a result of new automatic neck machines installed in 1965). So if you want a neck with a 1 3/4" nut you will need to stick with the Bozeman versions. And so it goes, so it goes . . .

 

Yes, , the nut-width is vital for a lot of us - so is the neck profile. Regarding Birds the first issue is most important as the vary back'n'forth.

 

I sense the Threadhost is after a contemporary wide-width Hummingbird and suggest he concentrates on models made from '10 to now.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jikes, , , this is interesting. I'm sure most people here believe the 3 first-wave squares (H-bird, SJ, CW) were and still are 24,75 short-scale guitars.

And that there were/are few exceptions, which would be long-scale Dove-necks put on randomly here and there as Kalamazoo either confused, experimental or short of stock rolled the everyday production forward.

I need to measure mine again, , , or no I don't, I'm sure 3 of them are short and the 68'er (where the scale is known to have changed) is long.

Let's hear what others have to say here - can't wait to see this unfold.

Regarding volume, I'm afraid I disagree too. The old squares vary and ain't necessarily louder than the modern, post 1990 versions.

Btw. the Birds and a smaller # of SJs were long-scaled plus/minus 1990 before Bozeman and Ferguson made their mind up to focus and follow the original specs'n'virtues we treasure so much.

We'll see what happens.

Cheers

 

This catalog from 1962 lists them as 24.75" scale! Very strange... http://www.vintageguitarandbass.com/gibson/catalogues/1962_34.php

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most surprising things about 1960s Hummingbirds - they're 25.5" scale length. I think the only year they were made with a 24.75" scale length may have been 1960 (not even sure about that). So '61-70s Birds were all long scale mahogany acoustics. They were loud instruments compared to the shorter scale Hummingbirds of today.

Really? While there were some '62-'63 Hummingbirds made long scale (with excess Dove neck inventory), the early to late 60's versions were short scale guitars. Seems it was during the Norlin era that the Hummingbird became long scale as a matter of course. The Nashville plant did some short scale and early on Bozeman did some long scale versions. As is typical of Gibson, things like this are difficult to track and a bit maddening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This catalog from 1962 lists them as 24.75" scale! Very strange... http://www.vintageguitarandbass.com/gibson/catalogues/1962_34.php

 

 

Fabulous Flat Tops has a good discussion on this history in chapter 8, "Square Shoulder Jumbos". Hummingbird was introduced at 24.75". Some guitars intended to be Doves (long scale, maple) were completed as Hummingbirds due to more demand for Hummingbird than Dove in the early 1960's. Those are effectively Hummingbird/Dove maple hybrids.

 

Unfortunately, that chapter is not definitive on when the "standard" Hummingbird switched to long-scale. The book does say that the switch to long-scale on the square-bodied SJ, which shared most structural features with the 'bird, was made in 1968.

 

By 1969, the round-shoulder jumbo body plan (J-45, etc) had vanished, and all the square-shoulder dreads (including the new version of the J-45) were long scale, so that Gibson built a whole slew of models on the same design platform for a long time.

 

Gibson being Gibson, I would guess you might well find both long and short-scale 'birds anytime in the 1960's after about 1962, when the Dove was introduced. The ambiguous serial numbers you find in part of this period don't help matters any when it comes to identifying year of construction.

 

Looking at a vintage 'bird? Measure the scale on that particular guitar, if you want to know for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jikes, , , this is interesting. I'm sure most people here believe the 3 first-wave squares (H-bird, SJ, CW) were and still are 24,75 short-scale guitars.

 

 

I always assumed the early HBs were long scale if only because Gibson's prototype of the HB was the 1959 Epiphone Frontier. Funny thing was is going for one of those foirst Frontiers used to be a way to score an early Hummingbird on the cheap. These days those early Frontiers sell for as much, if not more ,than a 60-61 Gibson.

 

But I can go on the internet and within a few minutes come up with varying definitive statements on the HB scale - they began as a long scale guitar or began as a short-scale guitar and were given the long scale in 1963, 1964, or 1965 depending on which version you happen upon.

 

Me, I am woefully ignorant in this area. Although I have had HBs built between 1961 and 1967 that folks were trying to sell me show up at the door, the neck carve was a no starter for me so I never really thought much about the guitars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, , the nut-width is vital for a lot of us - so is the neck profile. Regarding Birds the first issue is most important as the vary back'n'forth.

 

I sense the Threadhost is after a contemporary wide-width Hummingbird and suggest he concentrates on models made from '10 to now.

 

My Martin is 1.75 at the nut - so the newest HB is pretty close at 1.725. I made a jump when I got the Martin, my Takamine was narrower. I like the extra width. My Martin also has a modified V neck, which is a little beefy. I can play it, but the HB just feels so good in my hand. EVERYTHING is easier to play. I’m having the action lowered right now - so hopefully that will improve things. Would be nice to add a hog though. Thanks for the feedback!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting quote: "Production techniques designed to increase profit rather than tone infected all the guitars in the 1970s, and by the early ’80s the once famous Gibson acoustic guitars had hit a dead end."

 

Source: https://www.themusiczoo.com/blogs/news/factory-tour-gibson-montana-s-acoustic-guitars

 

Has anyone followed this link? It shows Gibson’s guitar making process from start to finish. Really cool!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago, I played a Hummingbird at my local Guitar Center. Then I tried the Dove and fell in love! Really wanted that one for a while. I'm not sure if they have one in stock, but I will find out. Been playing a HB there these past few weeks and really digging it.

 

I don’t think you can go wrong with either, and I’m lucky to own both-I love the mellow intimacy of the Hummingbird and the big strident sound of the Dove. If I had to compare them, I’d say the Dove is like a square shouldered SJ200 and the H’Bird is like a square shouldered J45. The Bird is perhaps more versatile but the Dove is just so much fun to play, and records fantastically well too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...