So what makes this guitar insanely rare and a "transition" model?
In 1963,Gibson released this popular body shape, called the reverse-body Firebird. It was designed by Ray Deitrich who had previously designed cars for Packard, Chrysler, and Studebaker.
By 1964, Gibson was under legal pressure from Fender because of the Firebird body shape. Fender claimed that the shape too closely resembled their "offset" guitar body shape found on Jaguars and Jazzmasters of the time. Gibson had to stop production immediately and completely redesign the guitar for 1965, drastically changing the body shape into what is now known as the "non-reverse" body. The iconic "mini-humbucker" pickups were switched to P-90 single coils, and the neck-thru construction was changed to a more cost-effective "set-neck" style. Less than 3,000 original-shaped Firebirds were made between 1963 and 1965, so all of them are relatively rare. But this one stands out...
It's the end of 1964, and Gibson has already started producing the updated (and less-cool) Firebird for 1965, when 35 bodies from the original run were discovered. Gibson, who wasn't supposed to build or sell any more units, decided to build out those 35 guitars, which all ended up with various bits and pieces of old and new models. Of those 35, only 12 of them left the factory in this exact configuration, making this one a holy grail among Gibson and Firebird collectors. Of those 12, at least one has a broken neck, and another ended up with a few holes eventually drilled into the body for attaching different bridges.
1964 Reverse body
1965 Flat headstock, but reversed like a '64
1965 P90 pickups
1964 wiring specs with all 1965-dated components
It has the best features from both models!
This exact guitar has been in storage for 30+ years before coming to us. We did a light restoration and opened it up to confirm the originality of all components.
Check out the flamed mahogany body panel that "pops" at the right angle!
All hardware is original to the guitar. All pot dates match. The embossed bird on the pickguard was colorized sometime in the early 70's. The original toggle switch cap was replaced with a chrome unit in the 70's. The trem arm attachment bolt is not original. Other than that, the guitar is completely unmodified and untouched.
No breaks, no cracks, no signs of abuse. Frets show typical wear, Brazilian fingerboard is dark and not cracked. Headstock has never been broken. Truss rod works in both directions.
The original case is in pretty good shape, but has a broken latch.
Please let us know if you have any questions or would like more info or pictures. This guitar is available for an in-hand inspection at our Jamestown, KY showroom. We can also do a "hands-on" review of the guitar over Skype. This guitar will ship heavily protected and fully insured.