- Produced in The Saein Musical Instrument Complex in Incheon, Korea in 2003.
- 3 Alnico-V mini-humbuckers
- Gold hardware
- Maestro Lyre Vibrola tailpiece
- Mahogany body
- Mahogany set neck construction
- 3 Vol/1 Tone with 3-way selector switch
- Gold reflector knobs
- 22-fret Rosewood fingerboard with block inlays
- 24.75″ scale
- 1.68″ nut width
- $831 MSRP (2005)
- Color Options: Black, Antique Ivory, Red, and Vintage Sunburst (2002-2005).
I found this guitar for sale online in 2010. Prior to finding the ad, I had been watching for a good deal on a new toy for some time. I had even done some research on a few models that I saw frequently in pawn shops and Winnipeg’s music stores.
Looking for an upgrade from my regular standard of guitars, I also hoped to find something that suited my blues/rock style of playing and had a unique look to it – as imagery is very important to me when on stage.
A Little Firebird History:
The president of Gibson in the 1960s, Ted McCarty, hired car designer Ray Dietrich to design a guitar that would have popular appeal. Under Dietrich, the Firebird took on the lines of mid-50s car tailfins. Dietrich took the Explorer design (which had commercially failed a few years earlier) and rounded the edges. The most unusual aspect is that the guitar is “backward” in that the right-hand (treble) horn of the body is longer than the other. Thus, the original Firebirds were unofficially referred to as “reverse”.
The Firebird line went on sale in mid-1963 with four models distinguished by pickup and tailpiece configurations. Unlike the Les Paul and SG line, which used the terms “Junior”, “Special”, “Standard” and “Custom”, the Firebird used the Roman numerals “I”, “III” , “V” and “VII”. Gibson’s line of Thunderbird basses is rooted in the design of the Firebird, and uses even Roman numerals (“II” and “IV”) to distinguish it.
Epiphone, being a subsidiary company of Gibson, was given authorization to produce this reissue from 2000-2005.
Being that it was listed as “used” condition, I was weary, but there was no evidence of abuse from the pictures posted in the ad. After recently receiving an income tax rebate, I decided that this was something I’d have to take a serious look at. Not finding much information on the Epiphone Firebird line right away, I went to inspect the guitar in person.
The moment I walked into the room my eyes darted towards the bright red Firebird VII sitting neatly along a wall of guitars. Right away I knew that this guitar was going to do what I wanted it to do. I low-balled the seller by another hundred dollars and he met me halfway. I felt that I was practically stealing this guitar as the guy apologized for the lack of a hard-shell case.
I find the Epiphone Firebird VII to be an amazing guitar. No other instrument in it’s class performs better or guarantees the quality that my guitar has delivered.
Finding that the three Alnico-V Mini-Humbuckers outperform most stock-quality Epiphone pickups was a pleasant surprise. With the configuration of 2 Volume / 1 Tone and a Blend potentiometer for the middle pickup, there are virtually millions of tones achievable through the three-way toggle switch.
The Maestro Lyre Vibrola tailpiece and tremolo bar are a bit tricky to setup, but with a knowledgeable technician or luthier helping you with your regular set-ups you’ll find that the traditional mechanical design works flawlessly.
With matching gold Grover Tuners coming stock on this beautiful redhead, I can’t help but to love her. Holding it’s position as my “go to” electric guitar, I can’t imagine my collection being complete without this Firebird VII.