A Factory Black Bicentennial Gibson Firebird 76 Bicentennial
'Under the Bed' for over Forty Years
1976 Gibson Firebird 76 Reverse "Bicentennial"
One of just a few custom color ebony 1976 reverse bodied 'Bicentennial' guitars produced to mark America's two hundred years of independence. This guitar weighs just 8.40 lbs. and has a nice, fat nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Neck-through-body construction with two glued-on wings. Mahogany neck with a very fast medium profile and bound rosewood fretboard with 22 original jumbo frets and inlaid pearl dot position markers. Headstock with gold-stamped "Gibson" logo on single-ply black plastic truss-rod cover secured by three screws. 'Reverse' peghead with individual Kluson Banjo-style tuners with rearwards metal tulip-shaped buttons. Serial number on yellow decal on the back of the headstock. Two mini-humbuckers (built without adjustable pole-pieces) with outputs of 6.06k and 6.41k, each engraved on the underside "PAT. No. 2737842". Gold-plated pickup surrounds with height adjustment screws. Three-layer (white over black) plastic pickguard with eight screws and "Firebird Centennial" emblem in red and blue. Four controls (two volume, two tone) plus three-way pickup selector switch. The original potentiometers are all stamped "137 76 XX" (CTS 1976 - the exact week dates are obscured by solder). Gold plastic bell-shaped knobs with metal tops. Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge with six individually adjustable metal saddles. Factory Gibson 'stud' tailpiece. All parts gold-plated. This guitar has spent the last forty-one years 'under the bed'. Apart from one of the catches on the case which has broken away this fine and rare guitar is in mint and unplayed condition. Complete with the original Gibson 24 page instruction booklet and guarantee, the original leather and patterned cloth guitar strap, original plastic bottle of Gibson guitar polish, original string hang-tag, Gibson string selector, a pack of old Gibson strings and various catalogs etc. Housed in the original three-latch rectangular black hardshell case with purple plush lining, one latch broken (9.00). A wonderful opportunity to own a forty year old piece of American Guitar history… This guitar, produced in 1976 to mark America's second hundred years of independence is essentially a re-issue of the 1963/64 'Reverse' Firebird III without the body contour, but with a Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge and all hardware gold-plated.
We believe that this was also the first re-introduction of the 'Reverse' body since early 1965. The colors offered at the time were Sunburst, Natural Mahogany, White or Ebony. We have seen natural mahogany and white versions but this is the first ebony guitar that we have seen. The whole production run was 2,847 guitars between 1976 and 1978 and it is certain that just a very few examples were produced in Ebony.
"Announced in Spring 1963, the original Firebird series was conceived as an attempt to produce less conventional electrics likely to appeal to Fender players. Four different models, identified by odd Roman numerals, were marketed simultaneously...The four models produced between 1963 and 1965 (a.k.a. the 'reverse' Firebirds) share the same body specifications and differ only in fretboard style, electronics and hardware...The original Firebird electrics are primarily characterized by: a neck-through-body construction; a reverse body shape with extended lower horn; a reverse peghead with the treble E tuner nearest to the nut; banjo-style tuners with rearwards buttons; and they are all equipped with mini-humbuckers built without adjustable polepieces. According to factory records, the earliest production models were registered in October 1963 with serial numbers in the 131,000s… For all practical purposes, the Firebird III was the equivalent of the Special found in the SG/Les Paul family. Compared to the FB I, the model is characterized by: a bound rosewood fingerboard; two pickups; individual volume and tone controls for each pickup; a 3-way toggle switch for pickup selection; a (short) Vibrola tailpiece with flat metal lever. In spite of a Vibrola tailpiece, the FB III sports the same bar bridge with a pre-set ridge as the FB I. And because of its stud-anchoring this bridge cannot be replaced by a fully adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge...The original Firebird series remained in production for less than two years" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, pp. 198-199). (#2000)
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