AMM 2011: Gibson Firebird X hands-on report
While at NAMM I got to try out the new Gibson Firebird X (shipping soon). This guitar caused quite a buzz when it was announced in December. Many thought it was overkill, some didn’t like the shape, others didn’t dig the colour. The colour was changed (it looks much darker in the pic above than it is in real life) and the release date was pushed back while Gibson engineers added further capabilities to the guitar’s technical side.
But first thing’s first: how’s she play?
Extremely well. The neck is very comfortable, with a nice balance of shreddiness and grab-hold-of-chordiness, and the string tension is loose enough for big greasy bends. The guitar is very well balanced. The controls are easy to access (especially the rows of sliders which face the player).
The inbuilt tones are very good, with the pickups summoning a range of modern, retro and futuristic sounds from humbuckers to single coils to P90s and then some. There’s a really pleasant, musical treble to most of the pickup settings.
The effects sound a little too neat and polite if you ask me – more like digital studio reverbs, delays and modulation effects rather than gloriously dirty pedal and amp ones. It’s nice to have them, but I think a lot of players will bypass these in most situations. Depends on what you’re going for, and I could imagine hardworking cover band guitarists really digging the inbuilt effects and the ease of having everything right there in the guitar.
The Firebird X is a great playing guitar with some wonderful inbuilt tones, but although it attempts to be a one-stop shop with effects, tunings and pickup selections, it could be a little too complicated for some players. It’s certainly not the traditional Gibson many players are looking for, but for those willing to put in the work learnings its intricacies, it’s a pretty exciting tool.