Unlike the other flat-top Gibson acoustics, the Hummingbird was Gibson's first square-shoulder dreadnought, similar to the dreadnoughts produced by C.F. Martin & Company. Introduced in 1960, the Hummingbird was Gibson's second-most expensive acoustic guitar, behind the Gibson J-200, until the introduction of the Gibson Dove in 1962, (a blend between the Hummingbird and the J-200.) and has remained in production ever since.
Gibson’s goal was to create an instrument designed for vocal accompaniment, one whose warm and honeyed tone would complement the voice, not overpower it. In reaching this goal Gibson employed a radical design that resulted in an instrument more boxy than its round-shoulder predecessors. The price and quality of this new model were appropriate for a guitar second only to that of the J-200 among Gibson flat-tops. The new model was not only more visually stunning than the competition of the time (especially that of other guitar companies), it offered superior playing capabilities.
Fine-grain spruce top
Mahogany back and sides
Nut width of 1 9/16 inches
Scale length of 25 1/2 inches
One-piece mahogany neck with a medium profile
Single-bound rosewood fretboard
20 medium jumbo frets
Inlaid pearl split-parallelogram position markers
Black headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl crown inlay.
Three-layer (black/white/black) plastic bell-shaped truss-rod cover.
Individual dual-line Kluson Deluxe tuners with single-ring keystone plastic buttons.
Brown celluloid pickguard with hummingbird, butterfly, and flowers etched in white and yellow.
Rosewood tailpiece with fixed saddle
This Hummingbird has had a busy life. It has clearly been played – a lot. But our theory is that a well played guitar is just that, because it is a good player. And this one certainly is that.
Items of note –
The original bright cherry sunburst finish is present but now a little faded.
There is a slight “belly bulge” showing on the top behind the bridge.
Consequently the rosewood bridge has been thinned down a little to allow for a lower action.
There is a repaired crack in the top at the soundhole, just where the pickguard meets the base of the neck. This is not uncommon on some Gibsons of this era. The celluloid material of the guard shrinks over time and sometimes forces a split in the top about 1 cm long. This small crack has been professionally reglued and cleated, and we believe has been stable for a long time.
It appears that the body binding has shrunk or contracted all the way around the body on both the top and back. This is likely the result of the same celluloid shrinkage described above. But the amazing thing is that it is consistent all the way around. There are no breaks or even any cracks in the binding – it has simply reduced in size all around the body, on both the top and the bottom. It has not affected the wood in any areas, and looks to have stabilised in this condition a long time ago.
The tuners have been changed to period correct vintage style units with gold plating.
There is a vacant screw hole on the back near the neck joint where a strap button once resided.
There is a drill hole in the side of the lower bout where a pickup socket used to be.
There is a pickup installed which sounds very good, but we don’t know the brand or model.
All that having been said, this guitar is definitely a good one – albeit player grade. The tuners are strong, intonation is good and original frets have lots of life left. It plays comfortably with a medium low action, and sounds like a lovely mature Gibson dreadnought should.
There are few guitars more suited to song writing than the Gibson Hummingbird. The Hummingbird has been used on countless songs over the years, in part because they record exceptionally well and because they play as smooth as silk. This one is a great player and comes with thousands of songs already installed.
Keith Richards has used Hummingbirds throughout his career. His Hummingbird can be heard in many Rolling Stones songs including 'Let it Bleed', 'Love in Vain', 'No Expectations', and 'Dead Flowers'. Other notable Hummingbird players include Jimmy Page, Brian Jones, Marc Bolan, Sheryl Crow, The Edge, Bono, Mick Jagger, John McLaughlin, Gram Parsons, and Ryan Adams.
This is a beautiful sounding vintage Hummingbird with a sweet voice, good playability and a great vintage vibe.
Comes in a later quality hard case in excellent condition.