The Schaller Fine-Tuning Stopbar Tailpiece Upgrade Extravaganza Review!

TheGuitarReview.com is completely free for personal use, and it would help a LOT if you could help a little bit (you can change the suggested amount in the next screen) to assist me to run the site and the occasional set of strings!

The Schaller Fine-Tuning Stopbar Tailpiece Upgrade Tuning Masterpiece on a Budget!

I record music with a dizzying array of instruments almost every day of the year. It’s part of my life force: create; express; make impressions of sounds with lots of different tools and instruments. One of the things that is very important to me as an artist is tuning. If one records a one-take solo, some wiggle room can be OK for a recording – a guitar can drift a bit in its tuning during the recording as long it is not drastic or irritating. On the other hand, once one starts recording multiple tracks with the same instrument over a period of an evening, the tuning drift can be quite annoying, as the creative process becomes all about re-tuning and re-playing.

In addition, not all guitars (even not all super-well-made guitars and basses) intonate properly or are even easy to tune. As much as Grovers have meant to me for the past 4 decades, even the little Mini Grovers on 6 inline headstocks or 12-string headstocks can be a real hassle to tune just right. The ratio is too low, they’re too close together, and the tiny buttons don’t have a lot of smooth travel to get micro adjustments. This isn’t a ding specifically on Grover! It has to do with small tuners with low tuning ratios in cramped spaces. I’ve been tinkering with tuners and tuning in my recording studio for more than a decade now. I’ve gone from all Grover modern to trying a HUGE number of locking tuner brands and models to tailpiece and nut adjustments.

So what’s the point of this review? The most important part of tuning for recordings is getting the temperament and sweetening of a guitar’s innate tuning JUST RIGHT so different instruments can play nice together in the same piece of music. It’s astonishing how a little tiny fraction of fretboard length in front of the nut or a tiny fraction of an inch of the bridge mounts or saddles can completely ruin an attempt to record two instruments together.

That’s where fine tuners come in! My Floyd-Rose-equipped guitars already have fine tuners and lots of adjustability (and rock-stable tuning!). They are the vast minority of my instrument library, and Floyds just aren’t a good thing to do to guitars not built for them. In addition, my baritones and basses just don’t “Floyd.” With that said, there are stop-tail fine tuners out there for 6-string guitars. Several brands have made attempts at making fine-tuning stop bars, some with more success than others. I love the Gibson TP-6 tailpiece: it’s not as inexpensive as I would like, but it works great. I have several and use them frequently.

That’s where the most recent iteration of the Schaller Fine-Tuning Stopbar Tailpiece comes into play. They’re great, and they’re relatively inexpensive. And I can install them without modifying my stoptail-built Gibson at all! Read on…

zZounds does not have the Schaller Fine-Tuning Tailpiece, but they do offer a variety of fine Schaller products.


Quick Opinion:
Honestly, I have seen them for years, but haven’t come to the point of buying some until recently. A stand-up guy on eBay and Reverb sells Schaller parts as an authorized retailer and gave me a good price on a box full of them. I couldn’t be happier! These things are amazing!

If you have a Gibson Stoptail guitar, try one of these! Especially a Firebird or Explorer – these make tuning the 6-inlines a real breeze!

You can read the official Schaller page for these fine fine-tuning tailpieces here on the Schaller.com site. (opens new window)

Features:
The simplicity and function of the Schaller Fine-tuning Stopbar Tailpiece is stunning. They work with existing Gibson USA stop bar tailpiece studs and are just as easy (or easier) to string than the originals.

Here’s what you can expect when you buy a Schaller Fine-tuning Stopbar Tailpiece:
* The tailpieces come in a wide variety of finishes including nickel, chrome, gold, copper, and black chrome – as well as brushed finishes
* The tailpieces come in a nicely-done safe-padded box with two body studs, two mount screws, and the fully-assembled tailpiece
* Each unit has its six fine-tuning wheels ready to go – just back them out to about 3/4 the way out and drop it in
* The string ball mount is very easy to use (nothing as hard as the little posts on a Bigsby trem, for example – just push in the ball and add tension)
* The Schaller Fine-tuning tailpieces I’ve installed have been directly easy to replace in each Gibson I’ve tried. The two mounting screws have a thread that works with your Gibson’s original stop bar studs already in the body. I haven’t yet had to pull the studs out of the body and replace them with the Schaller-supplied ones (NOTE: you might have a Gibson in your AXE-enal that has different threads. I can’t account for absolutely all ages and types of Gibson stop tails)
* The fit and finish on all of the Schaller Fine-tuning tailpieces I’ve used has been flawless. Great fit on all threads and edges, the finish is really well-done

zZounds does not have the Schaller Fine-Tuning Tailpiece, but they do offer a variety of fine Schaller products.

Playability
I can now tune to the cent on even my most stubborn of Gibson stoptail guitars. It’s easy to do, and works very quickly. The simple lever-based mechanism in the Schaller tailpiece is very efficient and effectively has a huge ratio between turns and tuning: that is, it allows for VERY fine tuning with a simple turn of the thumbwheel on a given string. I’m very happy that it works so well!

Also, unlike the Gibson TP-6, the FEEL of the stopbar under the palm is VERY smooth and doesn’t feel rough at all. It’s a pleasure to play and use.

I can even do little twists of the thumbwheels and make micro adjustments in-between measures when there is enough of a rest in the track to reach down and tweak things. This just doesn’t happen with lots of different types of tuners at the headstock.

Sound
One concern I think many guitarists have made about multi-part tailpieces (as opposed to a single-piece forged or cast tailpiece) is that the different component can reduce sustain and proper decay of a given note. To be honest, I have not found this to be the case with the Gibson TP-6 or the Schaller Fine-tuning tailpiece. On my neck-through 2010 Firebird V (“standard”), I have not noticed any reduction of sound or sustain.

If one were to measure actual open-note sustain with scientific instruments, it might be that some ultra-tiny amount of sustain is lost, but to be honest, in practical terms, I can’t hear or feel a loss of sustain. The sound is just fine on the instruments on which I’ve installed the stop bar. I really love having them in my retinue.

zZounds has lots of awesome things in their inventory, and they guarantee what they sell!

Wishes and Wants
I don’t really have any substantial wishes and wants for the Schaller fine-tuning stop bar tailpiece: it’s affordable, easy to install, doesn’t alter the instrument, and really does a great job without messing up the sustain.

The Gibson M2 S-Series: USA-made Les Paul-Shaped Sonic Demon! Beginner’s Paradise

TheGuitarReview.com is completely free for personal use, and it would help a LOT if you could help a little bit (you can change the suggested amount in the next screen) to assist me to run the site and the occasional set of strings!

The Gibson M2 S-Series: USA-made Les Paul-Shaped Sonic Demon!!
Perfect for Beginners and Pros, Modders, and Gigging Bands On A Budget

Update: I’ve written a second review with lots of pictures of the inside and outside of my M2.

Update: Gibson now has a product page for the M2 here!

I was fortunate this past Christmas holiday: my wonderful spouse bought me a Gibson! I had been eyeballing the Amazon-exclusive M2 Electric Guitar since they were available on the Amazon site. I was particularly enamored with the Citron Green. Having played my Gibson Firebird Zero for a while now (with my awesome Gibson 57A3 pickups plugged in to the quick-connect system after I took pictures, modded the Zero, and started recording!), I’m very happy with the S-Series. This green monster is wonderful at about 2/3 the price (on sale) of the Firebird Zero, with very few compromises.

I’ve actually kept my eye out for another Amazon sale. I’m hoping to grab a blue, gray, or red one!

zZounds does not have the Gibson M2, since it is an Amazon exclusive. But you can still get the Firebird Zero S2-Series Guitar here!

Quick Opinion:
The Gibson M2 S Series LP-shaped guitar is a wonder of simple engineering, USA handmade goodness, and a perfect student’s instrument! I can’t express enough the fact that this guitar sounds, plays, feels, and IS better than pretty much every Asian-made beginner’s guitar on the market – at any base-model price.

It comes in lots of colors, including an almost PeptoPink, it’s easily available, and Amazon backs up their exclusive Gibsons with their usual easy-return customer service. You can try one out with the knowledge that it is backed by a pro-customer-service company. You can see the specs and buy the M2 here at Amazon.com (opens new window).

Features:
The new Gibson M2 electric guitar is huge on features for such a low-end guitar, is made in America, and is the absolute pinnacle of well-made very basic entry-level guitars. You would be hard-pressed to find a nicer and better-playing guitar in this price range with a gig bag, much less one made in the USA. I do see that many Poly-Painted Epiphones are nicer in features and glossy finishes: but the Epiphones still don’t have that American touch to them.

– Series: S Series
– Body Style: Les Paul in general shape, like an LP Melody maker or a thin LP Special. VERY Light! Very well balanced
– Back: Solid poplar
– Neck: One piece solid maple with satin nitro finish
– Neck profile: Slim taper (this is similar to the 60s neck shape on many SGs and Firebirds – but it feels narrower in some way. Each one I’ve played is typical Gibson: hand-hewn and a little different from guitar to guitar.
– Fingerboard: One piece solid rosewood – this is a nice feature for this price point
– Scale length: 24.75 – just as most Gibsons are…
– Number of frets: 22
– Nut: Tektoid – mine are nicely cut and required no work. Nice job on this one Gibson!
– Inlay: Acrylic dots
– Bridge: Adjustable wraparound – this guitar’s cost has a savings by not including the stop tail and its studs.
– Knobs: Black top hats – these are the traditional “student” Gibson knobs. They’re slippery to me, so I usually replace them with knurls or speed knobs.
– Tuners: Mini-buttons – these are a surprise hit! These are a cost savings over Grovers – and the ratio is actually really nice!
– Plating: Chrome
– Neck pickup: Gibson Pro Bucker Rhythm
– Bridge pickup: Gibson Pro Bucker Lead
– Controls: 1 volume, 1 tone, 1 toggle switch (the toggle is the traditional 3-way: neck-neck and bridge-bridge)
– Case: S Series padded gig bag
I know that the M2 isn’t available outside Amazon, but there are other affordable Gibson S Series electric guitars out there at my favorite online retailer: zZounds.com.

Several nice features to point out:
* The paint finish is lacquer, and has a nice smooth feel to it. It’s a bit more satin than the Firebird Zero lacquer, and you can see and feel lots of Poplar grain with your eyes and fingers. It’s interesting: you can see the beautiful waves of Poplar grain on the top and the back of my M2. It’s attractive, actually. The guitar feels right at home when I play it.
* The neck is a nice semi-satin. It doesn’t grab at the player’s skin when palms get sweaty: and it still feels much smoother than most maple necks on inexpensive guitars.
* The electronics are loosely based on the Gibson Quick Connect system. The pickups can be easily switched with others that have the five-pin Quick Connect fitting. A VERY easy upgrade if you ever want BurstBuckers, maybe some 57s, or something screamin’ like some Gibson Dirty Fingers humbuckers or a Gibson 500T Super Ceramic!
* All the non-pickup electronics are attached to the pickguard: to work on them, you don’t even have to pull the strings. The pickguard is completely unfettered when the guitar is strung.
* The controls are simple: one volume, one tone, and a three-way. The jack is front-panel, easy-to-use and will accept an L-connector guitar cable.
* The tuners! WOW. I’m still blown away. Just as nice as the Firebird Zero, just 3+3 instead of inline. My first thought when I saw the pictures was “I’ll find some Klusons or Grovers and replace those: they look maybe too cheap.” I WAS WRONG. They’re high-ratio (maybe 18:1 or 19:1?), very smooth, and work really very well!
* The M2 has a new take on a Melody-Maker-like headstock: it’s thin, without the added wood to give the wide sweeping book-top headstock, but it still looks like Gibson.
* I’ll say it again: it comes with a simply nice gig bag. You rarely get a gig bag with entry-level instruments below $500.

If you’re thinking about hard shell cases, it fits great in a traditional Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul hard case. it fits in my Gibson LP cases, my Epiphone LP case, my SKB LP case, and even some old-fashioned cheap rectangular cases.

This Epiphone case fits the M2 just fine. The M2 is thin, so it isn’t quite as “clamped down” as it would be with a thicker LP shape…

Playability
This guitar is nicely balanced. it is thin and light – so much so that when you put it on a strap, it is almost non-fatiguing when you stand and play for hours. If you are a young player with small hands and a petite body, this guitar feels right at home and won’t make you topple over like a traditional weight LP Standard or Traditional. It’s perfect for comfy jamming.

Similar to the Gibson Firebird Zero, I like the finish. It feels good when you’re playing the guitar. The M2 is more satin than the Zero, but it is FAR better than the flat-black guitars that proliferate in the entry-level guitar market. With most non-gloss guitars, fingerprints and funky patches crop up on the first day you play them. With the M2, it looks like the finish has just enough natural gloss to wear in nicely and make a breathable instrument in its old age.

Gibsons Galore Gather Gleefully and Graciously with Goodness at my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

Sound
To reiterate what I said in my Gibson Firebird Zero review (opens a new window), I’ve played (literally) thousands of 2-humbucker electric guitars in my 5+ decade life. Some were $100 new, some were $7000 new. Lots in between. The sound of an electric guitar is partly subjective and partly objective. “How you play it and through what device(s) you play it really change things.”

I think this next part of the Firebird Zero review works just fine for the M2, too, so here’s a short excerpt paste:

For me, the best two measures are: Absolutely clean straight circuit with no effects and no pushing the pre-amp; and a good tube pre-amp running just hard enough to make the sound just a touch growly or fat-jazzy to really feel the body of the sound. Of course, other types of play are important, such as rock, jazz, metal, new age, pedals and such, but the first two of these are the most telling of all.

A good pickup is what you need it to be. Need that SRV sound? Scooped pickup EQ and overdrive is the best way to see if you like the pickups. Need that Tony Iommi sound? Good balance with very clean highs and crushing miss with balanced lows… Need that Dwayne Allman or Derek Trucks sound? Good balance on the three main EQs with emphasis on tight highs and very tight lows…

Me? I like a balanced pickup with all three main EQs about equal. I want the pickup to clean up for jazzy or mellow passages, and I want it to have crystal clarity when I overdrive it or run it through several effects pedals. I also want the bass sounds to be very present and clean: no mud. Miss? I like them to be present in the harmonics and not scooped out or enhanced.

These pickups are different than the Firebird Zero pickups in their makeup, their thickness (sound), and their EQ. They’re a bit drier, have a bit more honk in the bridge, and reflect the thin small body and the maple neck pretty accurately. They are just that, accurate. They’re not overwhelming, they’re not bad, just accurate. These aren’t high-output metal pickups that will pop to top off your Mesa, but they drive a nice tube amp in a very respectable way.

However: Compared to pretty much every bargain pickup on the market in sub-$500 guitars, these are awesome. They sound much cleaner and more refined than the average super-cheap double-black humbucker out there in the entry-level guitar market.They do clean up pretty well and can do good old heavy metal just fine. If you want to chug-a-lug some grinding country or throw down on some hard rock, they do a decent job. They’re head and shoulders above almost everything in their price/type class. I like them much better than the low-quality humbucker pups in pretty much every intro-level HH guitar I’ve owned or played. That said, remember: these are entry-level pickups.

Besides, they are fun and easy to replace if want to get a black one and Get Your Tony Iommi going with some Gibson signature pickups or some Seymour Distortions (OK, or your DiMarzio Super 2s, EMGs, etc). Actually, plugging in a Gibson 500T Super Ceramic in the bridge gives a face-blowing metal sound. NICE!

Fit and Finish
Just like my Gibson Firebird Zero, my wild and crazy-looking Citron Green M2 came well-painted and nicely strung. In the case of my M2, however, the Green Bean Machine Christmas M2 was much better in its setup and playability right out of the box. Interestingly, it comes in the same really nice shipping box as a top-level high-end Les Paul like a Standard, Custom, or Traditional. I liked the new plastic fret protector that’s inserted between the frets and the strings for shipment – it’s a great and inexpensive way to prevent shipping crushes causing string indents. It’s nice enough to keep and put back every time you put your guitar in the gig bag or case.

My lovely from-my-super-awesome-wife gift M2 came MUCH better intonated than my Firebird Zero. it was either a good match from the parts bin, or the set up tech really spent time adjusting things. I only had to move the three plain-string saddles (kind of typical to find intonation issues on a low-end guitar. It did well for a wrap-around bridge guitar when it was properly intonated using one of my Peterson strobe tuners).

Last request on this review. I pay for my site myself, write all the materials, and take most of the pictures myself. It really helps if you visit zZounds with this link and buy your gear. I don’t get credit for anything when other pages see my cookie and offer a cookie of their own. Visit my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

Wishes and Wants
I do wish that other vendors offered versions of the M2, or maybe even just colors. I like Amazon, truly: and I do like the idea of competition and multiple sourcing.

The New Gibson Firebird Zero S-Series Bargain Powerhouse Guitar Review

TheGuitarReview.com is completely free for personal use, and it would help a LOT if you could help a little bit (you can change the suggested amount in the next screen) to assist me to run the site and the occasional set of strings!

The Gibson Firebird Zero S-Series: USA Goodness for an Import Price!
Perfect for Beginners, Seasoned Pros, and all the rest of us, too!
Perfect for us modders!

I like having different guitars to use for sound, playability, recording intonation, and even guitars that are expressly so I can experiment with different wiring, nut, string, bridge, and pickup combinations. My 2006 Fender American Deluxe Tele and my 2010 Gibson Les Paul Traditional are just like the day they were made: awesome, albeit with some wear now that it is years later. My 2012 Gibson Les Paul Special (Humbucker model) has been many things: it is currently factory control cavity with Seymour Duncan P-Rails mounted on Seymour Duncan Triple-Shot Miracle Trim Rings – and will be something else some day… I have Strats and Les Pauls and a few neck-through Asian guitars that are all subject to my latest sonic journeys…

I affectionately call them Mules. Somewhere in the sea of guitar cases in my life are Ash, Mahogany, Maple, Alder, and even Basswood Mules. The Force is Strong with this herd. Each of the 6 (most recent so far) albums I’ve released has a Mule or two on at least half the tracks.

What does this have to do with the awesome Gibson Firebird Zero? LOTS. It’s the perfect beginner’s humbucker guitar, the perfect quick-gig guitar, and a modder’s dream!

gibsonfirebirdzerobodyfrontshot2jimpearson

Buy one before they are gone. Go ahead.

I’ll wait while you get one or two, then come back here and read the rest.

I’l wait 🙂 Click here please, buy one, and help me keep this site up and running! Visit my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

Quick Opinion:
The Gibson Firebird Zero is a set-neck design for added sustain and that “feels good” sound when you play it. The finish is a gloss type of finish: it’s not as slick and hard as the finish on a Gibson Les Paul Standard – but it is definitely a long way from satin. The tuners are surprisingly good. The pickups are far nicer than any of the base model humbuckers that come with pretty much every low-priced entry-level guitar on the market. It comes with a Gig Bag(!!) that fits it nicely and does a good job of protecting the instrument. And so much more! I’ll leave the rest of the details to the review below.

In short, the Gibson Firebird Zero is a jewel, an excellent guitar, a fun design, and priced at a point where nearly any guitarist can reach out into the galaxy of set-neck USA-made guitars!

Seriously, They come in a huge array of colors. Buy one.

gibsonfirebirdzerofrontlongshot1jimpearson

Features:
The new Gibson Firebird Zero electric guitar is huge on features, is made in America, and is the absolute pinnacle of well-made entry-level guitars. You would be hard-pressed to find a nicer and better-playing guitar in this price range with a gig bag, much less one made in the USA.
– Series: S Series
– Body Style: Firebird Zero – a new take on the non-reverse Firebird! Smaller in body than the traditional Firebird, and much lighter, too!
– Back: Solid poplar
– Neck: One-piece solid maple with satin nitro finish
– Neck profile: Slim taper (this is similar to the 60s neck shape on many SGs and Firebirds – but it feels narrower in some way. Each one I’ve played is typical Gibson: hand-hewn and a little different from guitar to guitar.
– Neck width: 1.695″ (Just a tiny bit more than the traditional Gibson 1 11/16” width…)
– Heel: Short heel design – the scoops into the neck pocket are shallower, and the typical Gibson glue-in set-neck bump is there. Very comfortable
– Fingerboard: One-piece solid rosewood – this is a nice feature for this price point
– Scale length: 24.75 – just as most Gibsons are…
– Number of frets: 22
– Nut: Tektoid – mine are nicely cut and required no work. Nice job on this one Gibson!
– Inlay: Acrylic dots
– Bridge: Adjustable wraparound – this guitar’s cost has a savings by not including the stop tail and its studs.
– Knobs: Black top hats – these are the traditional “student” Gibson knobs. They’re slippery to me, so I usually replace them with knurls or speed knobs.
– Tuners: Mini-buttons – these are a surprise hit! These are a cost savings over Grovers – and the ratio is actually really nice!
– Plating: Chrome
– Neck pickup: Made in USA double slugs DS-C Rhythm
– Bridge pickup: Made in USA double slugs DS-C Lead
– Controls: 1 volume, 1 tone, 1 toggle switch (the toggle is the traditional 3-way: neck-neck and bridge-bridge)
– Case: S Series padded gig bag

gibsonfirebirdzeroheadstockfrontshot1jimpearson
Read more details about the awesome Gibson Firebird Zero in the new S-Series Gibson Line Click here please, buy one, and help me keep this site up and running! Visit my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

A couple of nice features to point out:
* The paint finish is lacquer, and has a nice smooth feel to it. It shines about halfway between satin and full-on shiny: it feels great and looks really nice. Mine is faded Pelham blue, and it glistens from a distance.
* The neck is a nice semi-satin. It doesn’t grab at the player’s skin when palms get sweaty: and it still feels much smoother than most maple necks on inexpensive guitars.
* The electronics are loosely based on the Gibson Quick Connect system. The pickups can be easily switched with others that have the five-pin Quick Connect fitting. A VERY easy upgrade if you ever want BurstBuckers, maybe some 57s, or something screamin’ like some Gibson Dirty Fingers humbuckers!
* All the non-pickup electronics are attached to the pickguard: to work with them, you don’t even have to pull the strings. The pickguard is completely unfettered when the guitar is strung.
* The controls are simple: one volume, one tone, and a three-way. The jack is front-panel, easy-to-use and will accept an L-connector guitar cable.
* The tuners! WOW. My first thought when I saw the pictures was “I’ll find some Klusons or Grovers and replace those: they look maybe too cheap.” I WAS WRONG. They’re high-ratio (maybe 18:1 or 19:1?), very smooth, and work really very well!
* It has a new unusual headstock shape. It’s like a Bat-Wing Epiphone shape merged with an Explorer shape, and a non-reverse Firebird shape… all together. I like it.
* I’ll say it again: it comes with a VERY nice gig bag.

gibsonfirebirdzerocontrolsdetailshot1jimpearson

If you’re thinking about hard shell cases (I did), it needs a wide-body electric guitar case that fits things like Jags, Jazzmasters, PRS S2 Velas, or similar. It doesn’t fit in a Gibson Reverse Firebird case or Non-reverse Firebird case (the form-fitting ones): the body shape isn’t the same.

This case looks to be about right. Honestly, I would ask the sales rep before I bought the case… There’s always a chance that the case dimensions change from year to year. I bought a generic one with almost the same dimensions… Click here please, buy one, and help me keep this site up and running! Visit my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

Playability
The Gibson Firebird Zero is a breeze to play! When someone who’s never held a guitar asks me, “What’s a great first guitar?” I almost always answer, “Buy a Telecaster that’s in your price range. They’re simple, light(ish), and the play action on the strings are EASY.”. Now? I recommend the new player to buy a Gibson Firebird Zero if their budget permits! It’s not just a simple beginner’s guitar. It is a USA-Made guitar that can suit almost any Gibson-style playing need.

gibsonfirebirdzerobodyfrontshot2jimpearson

It’s light on the shoulder, it balances pretty well for a non-reverse “z” shape, the neck is effortless, and the controls are a breeze. The fit and finish on mine are just perfect for a $499-ish guitar. It tunes very easily, and needs very little re-tuning after you get things cranked up a time or two when it’s new. This is really a great guitar for the money.

gibsonfirebirdzerobacklongshot1jimpearson

I like the middle-gloss finish. I like it better than the recent Gibson “Vintage Gloss,” as it is smoother and shinier without being too expensive to make. It feels good when you’re playing the guitar. Honestly, for me, it is really important to have four pleasing factors with an instrument:
1) Sound
2) Feel of the instrument and its parts where contact is made with my body and hands
3) (Believe it or not) Aroma/scent
4) Looks – for example: I really am tired of flat black guitars and I can’t seem to get enough of wood-colored guitars 🙂

I love the picking-arm sloping surface shape. It reminds me mildly of the Fender arm-fits – just not quite as big.

They’ve just released a whole bunch of new colors for zZounds with the Gibson Firebird Zero! Click here please, buy one, and help me keep this site up and running! Visit my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

gibsonfirebirdzerobodybackshot1jimpearson

Sound
I’ve played (literally) thousands of 2-humbucker electric guitars in my 5+ decade life. Some were $100 new, some were $7000 new. Lots in between. The sound of an electric guitar is partly subjective and partly objective. “How you play it and through what device(s) you play it really change things.”

For me, the best two measures are: Absolutely clean straight circuit with no effects and no pushing the pre-amp; and a good tube pre-amp running just hard enough to make the sound just a touch growly or fat-jazzy to really feel the body of the sound. Of course, other types of play are important, such as rock, jazz, metal, new age, pedals and such, but the first two of these are the most telling of all.

A good pickup is what you need it to be. Need that SRV sound? Scooped pickup EQ and overdrive is the best way to see if you like the pickups. Need that Tony Iommi sound? Good balance with very clean highs and crushing miss with balanced lows… Need that Dwayne Allman or Derek Trucks sound? Good balance on the three main EQs with emphasis on tight highs and very tight lows…

gibsonfirebirdzeropickupbridgedetailshot1jimpearson

Me? I like a balanced pickup with all three main EQs about equal. I want the pickup to clean up for jazzy or mellow passages, and I want it to have crystal clarity when I overdrive it or run it through several effects pedals. I also want the bass sounds to be very present and clean: no mud. Miss? I like them to be present in the harmonics and not scooped out or enhanced.

So, what about the new Gibson DS-C double-slugs in the Gibson Firebird Zero? Compared to really nice Gibson 57s or even Gibson Burstbucker Pro (Alnico V) pups, it’s not quite there. If you overdrive the sound, some clarity is lost… Picking lots of notes or even fanning a chord loses definition of the different frequencies when the pups are overdriven or distorted.

However: Compared to pretty much every bargain pickup on the market in sub-$500 guitars, these are awesome. They do clean up pretty well and can do good old heavy metal just fine. If you want to chug-a-lug some grinding country or throw down on some hard rock, they do a decent job. They’re head and shoulders above almost everything in their price/type class. I like them much better than the low-quality humbucker pups in pretty much every intro-level HH guitar I’ve owned or played.

gibsonfirebirdzeropickupbridgedetailshot2jimpearson

Besides, they are fun and easy to replace if you just want to get your Nickelback to clean up and sound sonorous :-).

Fit and Finish
My Gibson Firebird Zero came well-painted, nicely strung, and almost ready to go. I liked the new plastic fret protector that’s inserted between the frets and the strings for shipment – it’s a great and inexpensive way to prevent shipping crushes causing string indents. It’s nice enough to keep and put back every time you put your guitar in the gig bag or case.

My only issue with the way my Gibson Firebird Zero was shipped to me was that its wrap-around bridge wasn’t intonated. I”m not being picky. Most strings were more than 25 cents off, except for the lowest two strings. I had to use the pole-distance adjusters to push the bridge out as far as it would go before the saddle adjustments began to make a difference. For me, this was no big deal. For a beginner, this is a hard concept with which to deal. To be fair, though, almost every entry-level guitar I’ve played from Asia was as bad or worse, often with the fretboard too short – this Zero’s nut is a perfect distance.

gibsonfirebirdzerobodyfrontcarveshot1jimpearson

My favorite part of the Gibson Firebird Zero is the awesome body shape. Click here please, buy one, and help me keep this site up and running! Visit my awesome Sponsor, zZounds.com.

 

Wishes and Wants
Actually, I think there’s little to want or wish! This guitar is OUTSTANDING for the price point and made in America.

Perhaps the bridge should be adjusted better. It would feel better if the Firebird Zero had a belly/tummy cut on the back top of the body.

gibsonfirebirdzeroheadstockbackjimpearson

New review coming soon: Gibson Explorer Limited Reissue 2016

TheGuitarReview.com is completely free for personal use, and it would help a LOT if you could help a little bit (you can change the suggested amount in the next screen) to assist me to run the site and the occasional set of strings!

I’ve just received my newest purchase, a 2016 natural color Gibson Explorer, Limited release by one seller as an exclusive (thus far).

A new in-depth review is coming. For now, you can see my quick-and-dirty comment on the seller’s site (my purchase was verified by the seller).

My quick review at AmericanMusical.com

Cheers! See you soon!