Introduced in 1963, the Gibson Firebird was a revolutionary model in the Gibson catalog at the time. Although Gibson had previously experimented with more radical solid body designs like the Explorer and the Flying V, the Firebird was the first model to get an extensive production run, and was a mainstay of the Gibson catalog throughout the '60s and '70s, intended to offer some competition to the offset body Fender guitars of the time. This 1965 Gibson Firebird III is an amazing example of a custom colour '60s Gibson, and a real once in a lifetime find.
The standout feature of this guitar is of course its custom colour finish. Gibson began to offer 10 custom colour options to coincide with the introduction of the Firebird in 1963, again competing with the vibrant finish options offered by Fender at the time, and trying to increase their sales in that area of the market. Although available on all Gibson models of that period, they are most commonly seen on Firebirds. Like Fender, Gibson based these custom colours on automobile finishes. The Golden Mist Poly finish found on this guitar is the Gibson equivalent to Fender's Shoreline Gold, and is a similar golden hue to the one used on Goldtop Les Paul models. Golden Mist Poly is in fact a nitro lacquer rather than a polyutherane finish, with Gibson using the term 'poly' to refer to the metallic finishes in their range. While they are by no means common, Firebirds can be found in Pelham Blue and Cardinal Red among some other finishes, but we have been unable to find another example of a Firebird III finished in Golden Mist Poly, making this an extremely rare, possibly unique example from this year.
The Mahogany body features the typical neck through design, and is fitted with a set of mini humbucker Firebird pickups that really have a sound of their own, with increased clarity compared to a Gibson humbucker, while retaining the gritty breakup you would want when pushing a tube amp. The original stud tailpiece and vibrato are in place, and allow the player to string the guitar either a hard tail or with the vibrato usable, without making any modifications to the originality of the guitar.
This guitar is in exceptional condition, and it is extremely rare to find a Firebird in the Golden Mist Poly custom colour. The finish is original and in excellent condition, with only minor signs of play wear. There is evidence of some over spray to the back of the neck from the 9th fret upwards, and to the back of the headstock. We have blacklit the guitar, and the neck shows no signs of any kind of break. The guitar has also had a refret at some point in its life, so our best guess for the overspray is that is was carried out at the same time, presumably to rectify some play wear to the back of the neck that had built up over the years. The guitar is internally original, with the original pickups and CTS pots dating to the beginning of 1965. It appears the neck pickup cover has been removed at some point, although the pickup has not been out of the guitar as far as we can tell. All other hardware is original and fully functional. The original pick guard has also been signed by legendary Firebird player Johnny Winter at some point. We are also lucky to have the history of this guitars ownership dating back a number of years.
This guitar has been given a full service and appraisal by our luthiers at the Vintage Instrument Workshop, and includes a 3 year warranty.