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Gibson 2019 Firebird

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Re: Gibson 2019 Firebird

Postby Folderol » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:48 pm

IvanSC wrote:Have you started saving for the Explorer and the Moderne yet?
That's just being cruel :lol:
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Re: Gibson 2019 Firebird

Postby arkieboy » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:13 pm

So I think the mounting point for the ABR1(?) is the same on Matthew's Firebird, but it doesn't seem an issue for his action

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There being just enough clearance to bring the strings down to the fretboard

Have to say its pleasing he's still so chuffed at owning it that it still retains some of its packaging despite being played and rehearsed for 2 years

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(I put him right on the gear ratio ...)
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Re: Gibson 2019 Firebird

Postby Clicklovely » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:30 am

I recently acquired a 2020 Firebird, and while I could feel it’s potential when I played it in the shop, I knew it would require some love to get it there. First thing I did once I got my breath back from the chase with the guitar shop staff was attend to the top-nut (which all non-custom shop Gibson seem to require) as playing an open E or A chord put my fingers in jeopardy of being sliced for a salad. Similarly the action needed to come down at the bridge, though string gauge and the length of the neck were affecting the ability to get a usable buzz-free action on the bass end. Indeed with the factory-fitted 10-46 gauge strings there was so much flex in the neck that I thought about notching an arrow and asking my dearest to stand by a tree with an apple on her head. I fitted a set of 10-52’s, top-strung on the stop-tail for a bit of added slink, set the height on the bridge, reset the intonation, and tightened the truss rod a quarter turn to accommodate the higher string tension. The guitar came alive with this string choice: tight as a tiger on the bass strings, with a kind of a readiness to pounce; loose and sexy on the treble side, think newly divorced, half a bottle of Prosecco, office party.

Plugged into my Orange OR-15 head with 2x12 cab, gain and master at noon the guitar sounded good. Hmm ... Good ... is Good ever good enough? Pickup height and string balance was off for sure. It took a bit of trial and error, but with the neck pickup wound down until it was flush with its surround on the bass side and just a tad proud on the treble I managed to find a lovely woody and harmonic clarity. The bridge pickup was more challenging. Set appx 4mm proud of the pickup surround the harmonic depth was apparent, alas the bass strings sounded too gritty and the treble strings were so shrill my ears began to bleed profusely. Whilst I allowed Daisy, our pet hyena to clean up my ears I fiddled and faffed with the pickup and bridge tone control. Should you need roll off the treble and screw the treble side of the pickup so far down into the body that you’re in danger of striking oil just to avoid fatal blood-loss to the ears ... hmm ... I don’t think so.

And so I came to the conclusion that a pickup change was needed and started researching replacements. However, the 2020 Firebird has specifically voiced Alnico mini-humuckers. These are the same pickups that go into the custom shop version. And I know that the CS version does not suffer from the same blood-letting properties as the standard. Hmm ... the shrillness was present on fully fretted chords so it couldn’t be the top-nut. I got out my magnifying glass and inspected the bridge, specifically the saddles ... ooh, nasty! Vulgar little chisel edged, flaky chrome affairs they were. Not what you expect on a Guitar of this pedigree and price. Gibson specs inform that it is an all Aluminium bridge, including the saddles. Aluminium is great for lightness and vibration transfer, but as a saddle material can sound a bit thin on guitars with less heft than say a Les Paul. Indeed every Telecaster I’ve ever owned has benefitted from the inclusion or introduction of brass saddles. You don’t lose the danger in the sound, just the likelihood of a nervous breakdown. So I ordered a Tonepros chrome-plated aluminium Nashville with brass saddles. Tonepros only make this ally/brass Nashville bridge in the older 4mm post top size, whereas the newer Gibsons are using a 5mm post top size. No problem though as the post sleeves on the Firebird wiggle out easily and the Tonepros is a direct replacement into the body, with just a few gentle hammer taps to make it firm. The Tonepros saddles are wider at the point of contact and come pre-notched, but I needed to get my miniature files out to cut through the chrome plate to the raw brass below, shaping each slot to match its corresponding string. A final polish with very fine wet & dry and I was ready to restring with the 10-52’s. I’d wound all the saddles back as far as they’d go to allow me to file on a backwards angle without rasping away at the actual bridge material, so needed to reset the intonation. I did this by measuring the distances on the old bridge and applying them to the new, fine adjusting when strung.

I tuned up and plugged it in ...

Well Fukedy-Fuk! There it is ... with the treble pickup set an even 4mm above its surround and the neck pickup flush the guitar sounded fabulous. All the bluesy tube and wood was there on the neck, and all the snarl, claw and bite on the treble. And to Daisy’s dismay no blood from my ears. Switching to the mid position the guitar has plenty of jangle, too. Not a Gyps’s bangled wrist kind of jangle, more of a slightly phase-shifted airiness that reminds me of some of the less driven early Zeppelin sounds. With the gain dialled up things got filthy ... really very slutty in fact. Yeah ...

So, £74.99 for the Tonepros and a bit of elbow grease was all it needed.
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