NGD Epiphone Joe Bonamassa Ltd. Ed. Firebird I

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by Gahr, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    I've been GASing for a Firebird I for ages. Since a Gibson Custom Shop version is beyond my financial capabilities (and a vintage one even more so), I've been looking for a used JB signature for some time. And on Monday I picked one up locally for roughly $470.

    It looks every bit as cool in real life as in the pictures. The lacquer is not 100 % perfect (the "groove" where the upper wing is glued to the centerpiece is a bit uneven), but it is only visible on close inspection. There is a ding on the back of the neck around the first fret, but the seller was open with that, so it's not a problem at all. The nickel hardware is already beginning to take on a really nice patina. A previous owner has for some reason added a second strap button on the shoulder of it. I don't really see why, but it doesn't really bother me. I might unscrew it and plug the hole, but we'll see. All in all, I'm throughly happy with the looks.

    The Kluson banjo tuners look awesome. The nut seems to be cut well and the guitar stays in tune nicely.

    The volume pot was a bit scratchy (again, the seller was open with the info), but a bit of cleaning spray took care of it right away.

    The 15th fret was a bit high, causing the D string to buzz a bit when fretting the 14th fret. I simply used some fine grit sand paper, a crowning file and some fine steel wool, and the problem was solved quickly. It now plays like butter with the action nice and low.

    It sounds really great. I had heard lots of good stuff about the pickup, and I have to say agree with the great reviews. It is spanky and bright, yet powerful, just like the original Firebirds. It has twang in spades, and cleans up nicely with the volume turned down a bit.

    So far so good, I definitely think this is a keeper.

    Anyway, here are a few snaps of it:

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  2. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    NICE! Happy NGD to you!
     
  3. Logan

    Logan Well-Known Member

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    Schweet!

    The reason they probably did that was to make it more "vintage accurate" as vintage Firebirds had 3 strap buttons :thumb:
     
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  4. AngelDeVille

    AngelDeVille Well-Known Member

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    Yeah mine has the extra strap button too!

    You got a sweet deal on it, I think prices are climbing on these, but I’m not selling mine...


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  5. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    Mini humbucker is made by Gibson, killer tuners.
     
  6. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    None of the demo videos I have seen show an extra strap button on the guitar, and neither do the pictures on the Epiphone web page. I wonder if it could have been an edition made by the factory on later editions?

    Take a look at this page and you'll see there is no third strap button.
    http://www.epiphone.com/News/Features/2016/Joe-Bonamassa-The-Epiphone-Interview.aspx
    But if it was an original feature of the 1963 Gibson models, I might as well leave it in place!:D
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  7. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    Here's a short sound clip I made in GarageBand. Both the rhythm and lead guitars are recorded using an SM57 close to the cone, slightly off axis, and with an SM58 as a "room mike" about 6 feet away from the amp, just to give it some depth. I used a little bit of the GB built in compression. The reverb is from my Catalinbread Talisman plate reverb (and then the slight room feel added by the second mike). One take on both the rhythm and lead parts. The close miked tracks are panned to about 90° to the left and right (rhythm and lead, respectively), the room mikes just slightly off to the left and right to separate the tracks. I never messed around with the microphone placement at all. They were just placed rather randomly, and run through my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. The sound is not as powerful as what i hear in the room, but I still think it is pretty decent.

    Just noodling some B. B. King-inspired licks on top of a "Soul Serenade" (King Curtis) rhythm guitar. Hope you like it.

     
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  8. AngelDeVille

    AngelDeVille Well-Known Member

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    I bought mine used fairly early when they came out, I think there were 500 burst and 500 gold.

    I thought the button was added by the previous owner too, but it is a beautiful turned aluminum button, so I never thought of removing it.

    She's in my top 5 favorite guitars
     
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  9. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    That's a great track and killer tone Gahr.
     
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  10. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Doc! It was fun hearing how different the Firebird sounded to the SGs I normally play and record with. Almost like a cross between a Gibson humbucker and a Tele. Of course, I could have spent a few minutes adjusting the mix to get a better balance etc. (I didn't really touch the volume controls in GarageBand much...), but I think the character of the guitar came through nicely anyway.

    Right after I was done recording the clip, I switched guitars to my 2018 SG Standard (my dedicated open E slide guitar), and MAN! what a difference. More output and it drove the amp a lot harder. The amp volume was set to 4.5 and the amp tone to 2.5 (it's a bright amp!). While the Firebird sound was balancing on the edge of breakup (the guitar volume was set to 8 on the rhythm track and on10 for the lead), the SG sent the amp into a sweet, more saturated overdrive right away.
     
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  11. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    I saw that was coming out, and got on a freaking waiting list. Love this guitar to death. The pickup is miles better than anything Gibson makes, the guitar sound better than my friend's Custom Shop Gibson FB1 with a Lollar pickup. The neck is substantial and comfy as hell. Guitar is a good weight and balances like a Prince.

    BTW: No, Firebirds never came with 3 strap buttons, and my JB came with 2, people add them in order to throw the balance off I guess.

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  12. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    It sure is a beauty! Which case is that, by the way? I would like to get a proper case for it by and by.
     
  13. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    It is a standard Epiphone Firebird case. It fits beautifully, nice plush lining, and is smaller than my Gibson case. The hardware is a bit flimsy, but it should hold up ok and the pocket is nice and big.

    They're about $120 if you shop around.

    epi 1.jpg Epi 2.jpg
     
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  14. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Nice snag, @Gahr. Love that tone, btw.
     
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  15. Ray

    Ray Well-Known Member

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    Grabbis! Firebirds rocks!
    I guess its real player! And thats a great tone you got there. I like that ambience mike feeling too, nice touch. Nice picking too, man!

    (I have always wondered why Gibson didnt make more neck-thru-body models. Too expensive to make?)
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
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  16. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Ray!

    I have never seen any sales numbers for Firebirds. But considering the price of a new one compared to SGs and Les Pauls, I can't see how they can be that much more expensive to make than some of their other models. But I don't really have a clue. I just know they are lovely creatures!
     
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  17. NMA

    NMA Well-Known Member

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    How do you intonate that guitar?
     
  18. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    The wraparound bridge has compensated saddles, and adjustment screws that adjusts string length. Not perfect, but good enough.
     
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