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Firebirds: Reverse vs. non-Reverse


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"the new guitars (non-reverse) were lighter, comfortably balanced, easier to play and - contrary to collectors' folklore - had a better sound than their doomed predecessors. "


That's a quote from Dave Gregory (XTC) comparing the non-reverse Firebirds favorably to reverse ones. Over the years I've owned a few of each, and allowing for differences in individual guitars, going head to head I have to say my non-reverse 'birds have usually sounded better.


What do you all think?

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I got a Custom Shop NR Firebird. I wasn't as crazy about the TV White models with the 3 P-90s or 3 Mini-humbuckers... something about that color just bugs me. So I was thrilled to come across a sunburst one. It absolutely screams through my AC-30.




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I am curious. The reverse model has a neck/body made of mahogany and walnut. Does the non-reverse model have a simple mahogany neck?


The first reverse firebirds seem to have had one or two piece all mahagony necks (that went all the way through the body, of course). At some point in late 1963 or early 1964, Gibson changed the necks to a 9 ply mahagony/walnut laminate. Some experts say this was because the original necks twisted or warped, while others say it was actually to save money, as building the neck up from strips meant less wasted wood.


I've see early 70's Medallion Firebirds with simple 2-piece necks, but I can't remember about Bicentennials.


The non-reverse went to the simple glue-in set neck, like SG's and ES' of the time, and mine as well as those I've seen were always 1 piece mahagony necks. Since production stopped before the Norlin era, I don't imagine any were made with 3 piece necks. All non reverse Firebirds had rosewood fingerboards with dot-inlay and no binding. Apparently the rosewood changed from Brazilian to Indian at some point, and that helps to distinguish '66s from '68s which have the same first 3 digits in the serial number.

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