Gibson Nighthawk - USA 1999
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Introduced in 1993, the Nighthawk represented a radical change from traditional Gibson designs. While its maple-capped mahogany body and set neck were reminiscent of the classic Gibson Les Paul, the Nighthawk incorporated a number of characteristics more commonly associated with Fender guitars. But the Nighthawk was not a commercial success and production of all models was discontinued in 1998 after only five years.
The Nighthawk was one of Gibson’s most unconventional guitars. Back in 1993 when the Nighthawk first hit the scene, its longer scale length, coil-tappable humbuckers, and angular single cutaway body shape struck a lot of diehard Gibson fans as a serious departure from the traditional style. The model did not sell in huge numbers before being discontinued in ’98.
A funny thing happened over the next decade as Nighthawks found their way into the hands of a new wave of guitarists via pawnshops, and people started to realise just how cool this oddball Gibson could be.
The Nighthawk’s scale length is Fender’s standard 25 ½” rather than Gibson’s usual 24 ¾”. This important difference, which requires greater tension for a given gauge of strings, makes the guitar feel more like a Fender from a playing perspective and adds to the tonal similarities. While its maple-capped mahogany body and set neck are reminiscent of the classic Gibson Les Paul, the Nighthawk’s body mass is closer to a Fender guitar, and the string-through-body bridge is similar to that of the Telecaster.
A 5 way selector switch offers single coil and humbucker combinations that really work – a versatile palette of sounds.
This Nighthawk is still in original condition with no changes or modification. It has been played sparingly over its lifetime and shows very little evidence of dings or dents. It is in overall great condition for a 24-year-old instrument. The gold hardware has tarnished in alignment with instruments of this age, and there are some scratches on the top near the bridge and upper bout - we are unsure how these may have occured, but are purely cosmetic. The guitar also shows some slight swirling from pick work, and some buckle rash but nothing offensive.
It plays well and sounds great – certainly a variation to your average Gibson electric. It would suit a Fender player who likes that 25 ½” scale and a lighter mass, albeit with a Gibson vibe, superb sounding humbuckers with coil tapping, and that alluring black finish.
Most Nighthawks come with a gig bag, but this one has its original hard shell Gibson case in great condition.