Ever since i can remember (or at least when i got to find out there is such a thing as an electric guitar), ive always been fascinated by the shape of the Gibson Firebird. The soft curves of its body, the neck-thru construction, and most especially the bird-head-shaped headstock. Everything just flows in this guitar’s looks. Yet at a reverse look, it seems like you’re playing a dead bird, with its belly up. Instead of flying with the bird, youre holding it dead in your arms. Screams of fowlness (nyuk nyuk!). Kidding aside, i always wanted a firebird, but in a flipped over version. I come to find out they DO make it, in the NON-reverse version. Just by its name, even gibson acknowledges that the original firebird is upside down.
But heres the rub – its a disappointing lame-looking version! not even an exact body shape, just what looks to be a poorly cut shape of the original. They DID retain the shape of the headstock, a good thing, since its what sold me in the first place. Why they didnt just flip it over to save on cutting costs is beyond me. The guitar neck is really a neck-thru construction, and for those who dont know it yet, from the tip of the headstock to the end of the body, its one piece. The top and bottom of the body is simply pressure-glued on to the extension of the neck. This provides what is perceived to be better sustain for playing. Nevertheless, it is a unique construction, compared to bolt on necks or glued on set necks. Gibson could have simply flipped over the top and bottom portions and be done with it, no other cutting to be done. They already made a neck for it with the bird-head in a rightside up position, why not just use existing pre-cut wood.
At any rate the only answer to my quest is to find a LEFTY original firebird, and turn/flip it over (ala-Jimi Hendrix standard strat). Thing is, gibson made very few of it back in the day, and its not even in any re issues. Clamors for a lefty firebord have fallen on Gibson’s deaf ears (how ironic!). This was almost a dead end for me.
Luckily, there have been a few small companies of late that have answered such cries. To date, Companies such as Dillion Guitars, Gaskell (who exclusively makes left-handed instruments), and Tokai Guitars, have constructed lefty replicas.
The picture shows the comparison between a Gibson Firebird, a LEFTY firebird clone (tokai), another tokai lefty firebird in black, and a gibson righty NON-reverse firebird. as you can see, the lefty Tokai brand is VERY VERY close, almost a mirror image of the gibson firebird. With just a plain inspection, the NON-reverse gibson firebird is simply NOT the same exact reverse copy of the original. The rear lower bout is less prominent, the top rear bout has a softer curve, the top front “wing” doesnt extend as far. Even the knob arrangement is different. Lawsuit? hardly! how can you sue someone for copying something you dont even make? Go ahead, gibson dont make em, ill take my business elsewhere! And maybe YOU’ll get sued for lefty discrimination, huh? Im just sayin…
So my answers are prayered (haha!). I just have to find a dealer, and order the lefty. I’m tempted to get the tobacco sunburst, but the black with the white pickguard just screams (or squawks!) tuxedo classic. Though the wood used is not the same (gibson and Epiphone Firebirds use mahogany bodies, Tokai uses (gasp!) basswood), it doesnt matter much to me. Im after the look, and all it is is in the fingers of the player.