SOLD - Vintage Gibson Firebird V – USA 1964

by Gibson

$19,995.00 21269


Now here's a rare "bird" up for sale - an original 1964 Gibson Firebird V in stunning sunburst with Vibrola tremolo.

From “Gibson Guitars: 100 Years of an American Icon” by Walter Carter -

"New automobile designs out of Detroit had caught Gibson President Ted McCarty's eye, and he hired car designer Ray Dietrich to draw up some guitars. Dietrich sketched a series of models, and one was chosen. The new guitar bucked tradition with a treble-side horn longer than the bass horn -- the reverse of conventional style.

The headstock, too, was reversed, with all the tuners on the treble side. To avoid an awkward tuning procedure, banjo-style tuners went straight out the back of the headstock. The neck went all the way through the body. The pickups were unique: mini-humbuckers with no visible polepieces. The new creations were dubbed Firebirds, and a flock of four models debuted in 1963. A new set of custom colour finishes was introduced just for them."

There’s no doubt the Gibson Firebirds of the early 60s turned some heads in the guitar world. They were so different to Gibson’s usual designs that at one point Fender threatened to sue due its supposed resemblance to the company’s Jazzmaster. 

Features -

  • Colour: Tobacco Burst
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: D
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • Inlays: Pearloid
  • Frets: Medium Wide
  • Fret count: 22
  • Nut material: original
  • Nut width: 1.682”
  • Scale: 24 ¾”
  • Radius: 12"
  • Hardware: original nickel
  • Neck pickup: original Gibson Pat. number mini-humbucker 
  • Bridge pickup: original Gibson Pat. number mini-humbucker
  • Pickguard: original guard with "Firebird" emblem painted in red
  • Bridge: ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic retainer bridge with metal saddles
  • Tailpiece: Gibson Deluxe Vibrola tailpiece with lyre-engraved coverplate
  • Tuners: original Gibson banjo style
  • Switch: original
  • Pots: original pots coded 1376417 = May 1964
  • Weight is 8.96 lbs

This particular Firebird V appears to be in completely unchanged original condition. And most importantly, it appears to have NO neck issues. Some early Firebirds have been known to suffer neck breaks or to show signs of stress at the transition from the headstock to the neck. That is not the case with this one. Everything about the neck is strong and secure.

It has a relatively flat fingerboard radius that allows for silky smooth playing up and down the neck, and supremely easy string bending. Just have a listen to Texas blues legend Johnny Winter, who played exactly this model of guitar.

This Firebird presents in excellent vintage condition. The original sunburst lacquer is rich and deep in colour, with natural ageing apparent including fine finish checking. There is some chipping in the lacquer on the back lower edges, but nothing too offensive. There is very little wear on the back of the body or neck apart from lacquer striations.

The nickel hardware has developed its own naturally aged patina as well, and the overall vibe is classic early 60s vintage. Original frets have very little wear and lots of life left in them.

This one was bought from a respected US vintage dealer by a well known Aussie musician when on tour in USA in 2010. It has been looked after immaculately and was in storage until recently at PREMIER GUITARS in Sydney.

Gibson's Firebird V mixed the company’s traditional design sense with just the right amount of modernism. Part Explorer, part Les Paul, yet still completely distinctive, the reverse body Firebird featured unique construction and the curves of a classic muscle car.

Besides Johnny Winter, when it came to the coolest looking Gibson electric ever made, Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, Stephen Stills, Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music, and Joe Bonamassa all knew the 'bird was the word...”

The Gibson Firebird V is a spectacular and unique instrument that is coveted by players and collectors alike. With just 510 made in 1964, the reverse Firebird V is a rare guitar indeed. And this one being so original just adds to its appeal, and it would make a very desirable addition to anyone’s collection.

Comes in a later Gibson Firebird case with inner shroud in excellent condition.

Video demo of same model –


If you would like to know more about an item or buy it, please click on "I'm interested" on the product page or call John on 0414 994 506


Payment preference for purchases is by direct bank deposit (EFT). Credit cards, Paypal or bank cheque acceptable upon request. We also sell with Lay By - 25% deposit + 90 days to pay


 If you cannot pick up items from our showroom, please advise your post code and we will send you a shipping quote