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Just got my Dark Fire... Major Disappointment!


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Well, I have lusted after this guitar since I saw it for the first time a couple months ago. I finally received my Dark Fire in the mail today ad here is a list of things that are leaving me wondering, "What is Gibson Thinking?"


To be fair, this guitar was purchased from a Guitar Center in Texas and sent via UPS to my house in Washington state. So I'm not sure how much of this is Gibsons' or Guitar Centers' fault.


Here we go...


1) First, the Dark Fire is encased in its white case, which is shipped inside a black box with a regular cardboard box outside of that. Once you have opened the regular cardboard box you open the Gibson black box and it reveals the white Gibson guitar case. Inside this black box, there is a 1 inch layer of foam that is meant to sit on top of the white guitar case to protect it from rubbing against the black box and becoming dirty, as well as to cushion the guitar.


My layer of foam was put under the white guitar case and the black lid put back on the box for shipping. So during shipping the black lid rubbed all over the top of the white guitar case resulting in large black smudges all over the top of the, otherwise, beautiful case.


2) Now I take the white case out to examine the Dark Fire. The first thing I see is a top that I was totally not expecting. Every single Dark Fire I have seen in stores and online has had a flame maple top. My Dark Fire doesn't have a flame to be seen. I mean, we're talking a completely different looking wood with a totally different grain. I know there are some flames that are very hard to see, but folks, this is not flame maple at all.


3) I then flip her over and see a 1/8 inch ding down around her jack input. Then on the back there are at least 3 or 4 scratches ranging in size of an inch long to 3 or four inches. These are not deep scratches which penetrate the wood, but visible scratches none-the-less. There are two dings on the back of the neck as well, just enough to feel as you slide up and down the fretboard.


4) The guitar had fingerprints all over it. Smudged. They didn't even take the time to wipe her down.


5) I then start playing with the neck volume tophat knob. There is a little raised rim around the top of these knobs and this know has a chip out of it about a 1/4 inch wide. The Master Control Knob seemed to be free of the sticky/glass issues I've seen here but it has two small scratches about 1/8 inches long on the inside of the knob under the plastic where I'm assuming there is black paint to color the knob. In any case, there they are.


6) I then turn my attention to the rotating pickup selector switch that I've read so much about and played with at a Guitar Center. I twist it and immediately realize that the actual medal post is bent. That's a thick post, how does it get bent? It's bent almost an 1/8th of an inch from center. So when you turn it, it wobbles one way, then the other as you turn it back.


7) I then decide to plug her in and play some chords. The first chords I play are G, C, D.... Guess what, FRET BUZZ! And we're not talking about the kind that are caused from strings tuned a couple steps down. We're talking fret buzz in regular tuning. This was particularily dominant on the G string. I have a $500 Schecter that plays cleaner than this guitar.


8) I then look down the neck sightline and notice that the frets don't look like they are nice and evenly spaced in height or from left to right. In other words, some frets looked slightly higher than others and some were farther out as far as side to side is concerned. I'm not talking about huge issues here, but issues none-the-less!


9) The final issue which is more funny than anything is just icing on the cake. I was playing with some of the different tunings and the small E string popped and broke. Not funny at the time...


Soooooo, I'm just a little confused here. What the heck did I just receive in the mail? A top-of-the-line guitar that was supposedly "handled with white gloves to make sure everything is just right" or an attempt at some funny joke when they deliver the real $3,500 Dark Fire tomorrow and we all have a good laugh?


This is not a cheap guitar and at such a price as $3,500 I would expect WAY more than I got. At this price-point, I expect the best guitar in the world. Not literally the best single guitar to exist but a guitar that is world class and delivers everything to perfection. That is what $3,500 gets you from any guitar manufacturer out there today.... their VERY BEST!


This is not the very best from Gibson. I have a Gibson Standard that I paid $1,800 new for that smokes this Dark Fire in terms of quality playability. What happened to the supposed Pleck setup system. Did they just not run my Dark Fire through the machine that day? What happened to all the things that marketing told me I would get with this Guitar? The perfect setup and playability, technology that would be flawless, a guitar that would not be delivered until it was perfect? What were they talking about?


Now, I'm a reasonable person and I assume much of the cosmetic issues came from being at Guitar Center, but what the heck is Gibson and Guitar Center thinking about letting hacks and kids who couldn't hope to afford or play one of these instruments, drool and scratch the thing into an un-sellable condition? I've seen so many high-priced instruments at Guitar Center ruined with scratches and dings from just letting anyone pick them up. What do they do with these instruments?


What am I supposed to do with this thing? I don't live in an area with any Guitar Centers so the few Dark Fires I have seen have been when I have been out of town. Not only that, but there are so few out there that you almost have to order one sight-unseen anyways. It's not like I could go down to a Guitar Center and have a few to choose from anyways. So I assume that I got a lemon and Gibson just made a small mistake on this "One" guitar and that all the rest are perfect.... but I'm not so sure. After reading some of the issues here, I'm beginning to wonder if this is an example of marketing way overhyping something!


At this point, I apologize for this long post... I just don't know what to do. I don't know what to think of Gibson right now. I am truly disappointed. I really wanted to love this guitar. I think I still do, I just need a little time to absorb the facts.


Any ideas or thoughts?


Thanks from a disappointed # 922 Dark Fire Owner,

Brook Floyd

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Brook, I am sorry to hear of your unpleasant un-boxing experience. It sounds like your best course of action is to return to GC and ask for a refund or different DF to be sent to you. Most of the technical issues you mention like the bent toggle could be resolved with an RMA but the lack of flame and dings you can't do much about so while you can, return!!! Lack of flame is not a reason GC will accept but simply rely on all your other problems and ask them to replace / return. Waiting a little more for that perfect DF is so much better than being annoyed everytime you play the one you have now. Thats my humble suggestion.

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I agree with everyone here. If it were me, I would call the Guitar Center, and tell them that this is unacceptable. Offer to send them pictures. Don't mention the lack of flame. Instead, focus on the bent toggle, scratches, dings, and MCK problem. Forget about the string, as that is the least of your problems. When I ordered mine, they said that they could get one faster by contacting a closer Guitar Center store, or get me a "virgin" Dark Fire that had never been taken out of the case, if I was willing to wait some additional time. I asked for the latter, and it is now on its way from a GC distribution center. I would get one from the distro. center.


As for the GC's "try anything you want" policy, I completely agree. Leave the Epiphones, Ibanez(s)? Fenders, etc. on the floor. Keep the Gibsons, Rickenbackers, Gresch, etc. in a case, away from all the morons too stupid to not f**k them up. I noticed exactly what you were talking about the other day, when I was there, and it would seriously tick me off if I got a guitar in that condition.


This is just my opinion, and you should do whatever you think is going to work for you. I know how agonizing the wait for another Dark Fire will be, but ultimately, I think it will be worth it. :)


Good luck, and sorry that this happened to you!

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Can you post pictures of your "lemon" so we get a better idea?


... before returning it, which I believe is the only sensible thing to do.



That being said, I played my DF (with a nice flame top) for a week before the RMA, and I must say I haven't played much my other guitars since it's gone, something is missing, probably the L5 sounds and the low tunings, but I feel like I am restrained to two dimensions again where Df felt like 3D on a huge screen.


So, beware, if you play your temporary DF922 for a few hours before returning it, you might potentially feel like driving or flying to nearest GC to get a better one as fast as you can :-)

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brook, yep, go ahead and return it. I think the DF is worth the money and it's an excellent guitar. You were obviously given one of the demo guitars sitting in that particular GC. Wait for another one to be sent to you. I would specify that you want one straight from the factory rather than a played DF. Now, some stores will take the guitar out and go thru some setup to make sure all things are right. From that perspective, you can let them do that or not....your call.


Best of luck and you will like the DF very much when you get your hands on a proper one.

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Well, here are some pics for those who'd like to see. Obviously I cannot show any pics that would indicate the fret buzz and playability. Nor can I figure out how to show the poor fretwork as you look down the sightline of the neck. But for the rest of the cosmetic issues, here are some pics for you. These are a good overview of what I listed in my original post. Every sinlge thing is not pictured, but most things I talked about are here. And obviously, it's worse in person than some of the pictures can show.


Thanks, for the posts of encouragement as well. After having a night to sleep on it, I will definitely return the guitar. What I haven't figured out is if I will try to track down another one. If so, I will definitely want an unplayed/unopened Dark Fire. And I feel they will need to send pics to me so I can see what kind of top I'm getting. I really like flame maple tops and with a good flame on top of this red Dark Fire finish, it would look great. I have 16 guitars (this will be my 17th) and 12 have flame tops, with the remaining being quilted. So you can see I really like my flames...!


Here we go...


This is what the black box left on the top of the case. This is after a good scrubbing with a wet rag. It's as clean as I can get it.




This is the top. It's not as if it's ugly. But not a flame in sight. Completely different from any top I've ever seen on a Dark Fire.




A nice deep ding down near the bottom.




I've added some lines to aid in determining how much the toggle is bent.




This is one of the two dings in the back of the neck that drive you crazy as you slide your thumb over them while playing.




Some of the scratches on the back.




Some more scratches on the back.




It's hard to get a good picture of this, but those are actually scratches on the underside of the plastic on the Master Control Knob.


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Totally agree. So this brings up my flame-envious thoughts up again...


All advertising material show beautiful flame topped maple. Do we have any legal grounds to push back guitars that don't have the flame top that was advertised to us? It certainly affected my buying decision and now I'm stuck with a guitar which is beautiful nevertheless but simply is not what was advertised. I am sure 10 years from now I will still be having these thoughts so what do I do?


I think I will wait for the build ssues to be resolved, stock to be plenty and buy another one, seeing & touching it in person this time and then sell my current one at a loss to someone else who is happy with the top as it is. I understand wood is unique and personal tastes differ. Just feeling shortchanged that's all...


Anyways, let me shut up before someone jumps in and calls me an idiot & a jerk for complaining too much! Dark Fire is a great guitar and I will always have one. Just want one similar to the advertised one or those posted by lucky owners on this forum which are close to or better on the flame department.

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Not only did GC sell you a used DF, but an ABUSED DF! And it doesn't even remotely resemble the advertising hype or photos. IMHO, it's borderline criminal (certainly a gross misrepresentation) that your GC should attempt to pass this off as a new instrument. The same goes for Gibson QA for allowing this abomination to sneak through; they need to have a talk with your GC! Both need to eat it; send it back and find a new/real one you can inspect and feel happy with! Once you do, I know you'll love it! Let us know how it works out. Best wishes.

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photonutalin1 said

send it back and find a new/real one you can inspect and feel happy with! Once you do, I know you'll love it!


Exactly the way I feel right now. I know I love the concept and technology of this guitar. It's just that the guitar I have in my hands is not that guitar that was marketed to me and that stole my heart the minute I saw it online. It feels like a used Epiphone version of the real thing. I feel cheated. But I am pretty sure that I really want one of these guitars if I can only find one that lives up to what they say it is in their marketing. Do they exist or has the manufacturing department simply not been able to deliver what the marketing division put out there.


MCK said

Anyways, let me shut up before someone jumps in and calls me an idiot & a jerk for complaining too much! Dark Fire is a great guitar and I will always have one. Just want one similar to the advertised one or those posted by lucky owners on this forum which are close to or better on the flame department.


I certainly would never tell you to shutup about your lack of flame. This is not a trivial issue. You are correct. You will ALWAYS know that you're unhappy with the looks of your guitar. Which is why you should do something about it. And the looks were one thing that put the nail in the coffin for the purchase of this thing for me. Yes, I love the tech but I wouldn't have bought it if I didn't like the looks. this is the exact reason I did not buy the original Robot. I simply didn't want the blue guitar because I didn't like how it looked. I LOVE flame maple tops and the red stole my heart immediately when I saw it. So I finally had my perfect Robot. Updated electronics, better everything and flame maple to boot!


And then I got mine in the mail............... :-( SUCK!!!!


I'm sorry, but I would have figured that these Dark Fires would all have premium tops due to the very nature that they are a limited edition first run. But the top of mine apparently shows that Gibson really didn't care what they put on the top of their Most Advanced & Groundbreaking Limited Edition Guitar Ever Made.


They simply picked up the first piece of wood that they had lying around. What does that say about how they cared about the rest of the guitar? For mine, they didn't care much. I know of several issues that have to have left their factory and were not caused by GC.


1) The fret work had to be their fault and left their factory that way.


2) The resulting fret buzz had to be their fault and left their factory that way.


3) The crappy top had to be their fault and left their factory that way.


4) The scratches on the inside of the Master Control Knob had to be their fault and left their factory that way.


5) The bent toggle probably left their factory that way but possibly was caused by GC.


It makes me wonder about what that "Pre-Pack Checklist" is for that is put into the case that has all the things about the guitar checked off as if they are perfect. Things such as playability, fretboard, buzzing, action, etc... I noticed there is a "Final Pack Checklist" as well on the same sheet that was never filled out or signed by anyone.


Another thing, if you're thinking about getting another when the supply becomes better, bow are you going to do that. I mean, I have #922. How many of these things will there be. I thought their was only going to be about 2,000. Is that correct or incorrect?


Regardless, the more I think about this, the more I keep saying to myself, WHAT IS GIBSON THINKING?


Geez, there you went and got me all worked up again... hold on... ok, I'm better now. I promise to treat this rationally, calmly and with a nice nature. :-)


Do any top Gibson people read these forums? Especially any that are tracking how well their Dark Fire is doing?



Brook Floyd

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Hi Brook, Sorry I got you worked up again. Was not my intention at all. I think we both agree. Dark Fire without a flame top should be be marketed as a Dark Fizzle...


On the numbers front... I believe they committed to 4000 all together not 2000. So far the highest serial we saw here on the forum is mid 1500s. I think there will be DFs to go around for a long time. With all these issues and the current financial climate I can't see people jumping over each other to snap them but then again who am I to know. Maybe I'm wrong and then there will be Robot III soon enough I am sure.

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Do any top Gibson people read these forums?


I'll make sure they read this thread.


Brookfloyd's Dark Fire



Gibson Product Pic



Tronical Product Pic




Tronical R&D Pic



Elantric's Dark Fire





When I got mine ( sight unseen) I had numerous problems,




If it weren't for the Flame top on mine - I would have returned it for a refund, and no doubt - not be participating here on this Forum. This is my first "New' Gibson since 1974 - i own 30 stringed instruments, and now 3 Gibsons. Since I already had that base covered with one of my existing guitars, nothing else in the Gibson product line really thrilled me until Dark Fire.

I'm not wanting to gloat - but today the Dark Fire is my #1 axe, as it sounds rather amazing - once you get the RIP and GR3 all dialed in - its quite an amazing package.

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Hi Elantric, that photo from Gibson page was updated at some point shortly after I started to raise the issue about potential mal-practice in advertising. Do you happen to have a copy of the earlier one? I think the thread called DF Images also contains some of those earlier marketing shots. Perhaps we should use those to put this into context. Thanks as always for your advocacy. Regards

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Care to sell the guitar for 2K$


Is that Euro, Amero, or Dollar?


I may be trading it for a bowl of soup this time next year the way the power brokers are messing up the economy. My flame top may just make the difference between me getting Chunky Chicken vs merely Chicken Broth.

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You have the best looking DF of them all elantric...


DAMN YOu [-(


Care to sell the guitar for 2K$ and a Chuky doll signed by Pee Wee Herman?


I'll see that and increase by an arm and a leg! :-)


Joke aside, please refer to the now aging poll on the topic... Many have confirmed their DF is matching or exceeding the advertised flame-top quality. So clearly some lower quality (flame-wise) wood has slipped the raw-material QC process and we are now stuck with the consequence. Newcomers unaware of this prior poll are most welcome to post their response to it. Thank you!!!



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Hi Elantric' date=' that photo from Gibson page was updated at some point shortly after I started to raise the issue about potential mal-practice in advertising. Do you happen to have a copy of the earlier one? I think the thread called DF Images also contains some of those earlier marketing shots. Perhaps we should use those to put this into context. Thanks as always for your advocacy. Regards[/quote']


MCK, if you thought yours looked bad, Brookfloyd's is really an ugly duckling of a guitar.


I would have returned it in a blink if it was me.


Still waiting for the non LE DF personally, and a better looking color scheme than this LE DF.

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Yup. Brooks top looks worse than mine I definitely agree. Good call for you to wait for non-LE versions to come out. Given the delays so far I don't know when or if Gibson will come out with those though. By the time they are ready Tronical may already have version III ready to roll out the doors. We'll all see.


PS. Interesting review post on HC forum. The poster gets clobbered for his use of language but content seems to echo similarly to some of our experiences here... http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?p=32978976

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Well, I didn't plan on coming back to the forum tonight but here I am with one more issue to throw on the pile...


I decided to forget about the issues for the evening and at least give the guitar a good run-through as far as how it sounds through an amp and check out the Chameleon features, etc...


So I play around for about a half hour and really delve into every facet of what the MCK knob can do. Well, I'm sorry to report that my MCK knob is now sticky.


In other words, when pulled up to initiate all the Dark Fire tech, the half-button push that you need to perform for all the Tuning and Chameleon features, doesn't release after you've pressed down. You press halfway down and the MCK knob just sticks there without popping back up!




I worked it up and down and back and forth for a few minutes to no avail. It's just worse now!


Well, that's it for me tonight. I'm going to put this hunk back in her case and hope she never has to come back out.



Brook Floyd

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Oh and one more thing... Back when I said that this guitar feels like a cheap, used Epiphone version... Scratch that please, because I've seen and played Epiphones that displayed more quality than this instrument.


Gosh I feel really mean tonight, but I just cannot get over the lack of quality craftmanship on this guitar. Like I said before as well, I have a Les Paul Standard that is a beautiful instrument. Can't figure this out for the life of me. It's like they outsourced the construction of the Dark Fire's to some third world country.


Anyways, enough from me... I said I'd have a good nature about this.



Brook Floyd

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Well, I think this finally tipped the balance for me. Due to the following:


- No info from Gibson, yet a willingness from their dealers to take our money (and a good chunk of it).

- Ongoing tech issues which don't seem to be getting resolved.

- A batch of guitars sent out in Dec which don't work.

- An inconsistent finish.


...oh yeah and a £2,400 price tag (exchange rate sucks!).


...I've cancelled my order. Brook, your experience really makes me question Gibson's commitment to giving us the best on this one. Revolutionary guitar it may be, but as Guitarist magazine (UK) said, it's just not 'there' yet. So why are Gibson even selling these?


I'm gonna twiddle my thumbs for a year, play much more acoustic (she's a beauty), and wait until these guys get a) the technology; B) their customer service; and c) their PR and communciations right. I fear I may be waiting some time.


Strange, I've never felt disappointed about something I've not bought, but G USA you managed it! I'll watch this forum with interest. ](*,)

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