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Can the Gibson Firebird X be saved?

Gibson Firebird X

Above is a Gibson Firebird X; a ridiculously expensive guitar that looks like a children's toy. Oh sure, it's got every single feature you'd ever want, including one that you don't: The fact that when the proprietary battery dies, it renders the instrument unplayable until you put in a freshly charged battery. I'm not kidding. But it's New! and Interesting! and Innovative! Yeah, well the guitar community said to Gibson that they can take their new, interesting, innovative nonsense and shove it up their ass.

I've actually seen an X in person. It was at Guitar Center in Tampa and I asked the sales guy if any of them sold. One sold. Just one. And bear in mind this was at the height of the X's popularity. And no, I didn't play it. I could have if I wanted to, but I just didn't see the point.

The Firebird X could be saved... if it wasn't a Firebird X

Imagine for a moment if the X was a regular electric guitar with a passive pickup set, finished with a dark wine red color (see example of that color on this Epiphone), had an ebony fingerboard with rectangle block inlays and was priced at $900 or so for a USA model, and $500 for an Asian-made Epiphone model. I guarantee you Gibson would have sold every one of them and there probably would have been demand for more. But unfortunately, nobody at Gibson is that smart.

I honestly believe the Firebird X shape isn't that bad, but the styling choices are what make the guitar look like a toy more than anything else.

The guitar both in photo and in person just looks cheap. The swirl-style finish makes the body look like it's made out of plastic. The maple board with dot inlays looks like something you'd find on a Jay Turser guitar that sells for well under $200. The knobs and toggle switches make the guitar look more like a video game controller than an instrument.

Now if you took all that crap out, simplified the electronics to just be one push/pull volume (for coil splitting), one push/pull tone (for further coil splitting or possibly a boost switch), and a 5-way selector, finished the guitar in a solid color and put on a dark fingerboard with proper upscale inlay work, then yes, the X would be a great guitar that players would actually want.

Will it ever happen?


Gibson does have enough talent to produce new and interesting guitars. But they keep missing the mark with bad color choices, useless features that nobody wants and a price point nobody can afford.

I do hope Gibson saves the design and reintroduces it as a simplified, mid-priced Epiphone model. The X design does have potential if it's done right the second time around, should that happen.


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