The iconic Gibson Firebird model range was the result of legendary car designer Ray Dietrich after being tasked by then Gibson president Ted McCarty to make a fresh new solid body electric guitar. The range debuted in 1963 with a unique construction to Gibson guitars: the neck through body style with no neck to body joint. The entire model range was updated to a more traditional neck joint design in 1965 and the body and neck shape reversed- so which design is what guitar collectors call "reverse" and which is "non-reverse"?

Both the early 1960s and late 1960s Gibson Firebird styles are fabulous guitars with stunning looks. I'm looking for all versions of the 1960s Gibson Firebirds: reverse, non-reverse, and all throughout the range. You can get help with Firebird dating here: How to date a Gibson. Or if you're curious about how much I would value your Firebird then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson.  

Here are two great books I recommend for Gibson Firebird information: Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years by A. R. Duchossoir and Flying V, Explorer, Firebird: An Odd-Shaped History of Gibson's Weird Electric Guitars by Tony Bacon.

Firebird Reverse: 1963-1965, 1970s

The first iteration of Gibson's Firebird range of electric guitars is referred to by collectors as "Reverse" because the body and headstock shape are the opposite of a Fender shape. The body shape is rather similar to a rounded off Gibson Explorer model in that the treble side horn is more elongated than the bass side horn. You can check out more pictures of the Reverse body style here: 1964 Gibson Firebird.

Gibson Firebird Reverse shape 1960s

The headstock shape is opposite of the typical Fender shape as well. This shape is why the bass strings are longer on the headstock than the treble side strings. This is the opposite of the more common style of 6 on one side headstock designs. 

Gibson Firebird Reverse headstock shape with long bass strings


Gibson Firebird Non-Reverse 1965-1969

The non-reverse Gibson Firebird range debuted in 1965 and lasted until about 1969. It can be identified by a neck to body joint and an elongated bass side horn instead of the treble side horn. This is the more common and traditional shape of electric guitars which is what prompts Gibson guitar collectors to call this version the "non-reverse". You can check out more of the non-reverse Gibson Firebird body style here: 1965 Gibson Firebird non-reverse.

Gibson non-reverse Firebird body style


Gibson also returned the headstock shape to the more traditional shape that Fender also used on 6 on one side headstocks after the redesign. This allowed for a more traditional use of upper side tuning buttons and short string length behind the nut for the bass side strings. This is a 1965 Gibson Firebird V in rare Cherry Red finish. 

Gibson Firebird non-reverse headstock

Gibson Firebird Guitar Collector

Gibson Firebird guitars are some of my favorite vintage guitars made by Gibson in the 1960s. I am currently looking for both reverse and non-reverse Gibson Firebird guitars. If you're curious about how much I would value your Gibson Firebird guitar then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson. You can send pictures to the contact information below for me to check out. I'm looking forward to seeing your guitar!

Here's a great Gibson Firebird I recently purchased: 1977 Gibson Firebird '76 White. Gibson reintroduced the Firebird reverse body style as the Firebird '76 to commemorate the Bicentennial of the United States. It's a great guitar that I'm thrilled to have! 

 Gibson Firebird reverse White vintage

John Shults

Looking to sell?

Do you have a similar guitar you would like to sell, or get appraised?
I would love to take a look! Please contact me today!