Gibson Nighthawk Electric GuitarIn creating the Nighthawk 2009, Gibson has breathed new life into a model it retired 10 years ago. This lusty guitar, which resembles its larger Les Paul cousin but with more defined curves, has become a cult favorite since it was discontinued in 1999, after only six years in production. The original Nighthawk was conceived of in response to the demand for a more modern silhouette and a multitude of tone options. Today's version is still all about a guitarist keeping his options open. With two volume controls, a master tone knob and two heavy-duty pickups, guitarists can experiment with endless sounds. If tone alone weren't enough to carry this instrument, Gibson luthiers have labored to create an exquisite-looking guitar. A figured maple top, mahogany body, rosewood fingerboard and deluxe details combine to make the 2009 Nighthawk a true collector's item.
Each Nighthawk 2009 gets its stunning three-dimensional look courtesy of its "bookmatched" maple top. The guitar's tight-grained top fits snugly atop a two-piece mahogany body, and top and body are bonded together with ultra-strong Franklin Titebond 50 glue. This wood combination yields not only a gorgeous exterior but also a specific yet versatile tone that many guitarists have come to demand.
The Nighthawk's maple top is Grade AAA and the mahogany body is Grade A.
To achieve the Nighthawk's desirable "bookmatched" top, we carefully take a solid figured maple top and re-saw it (slice in half). We then open it like a book and glue the two inside pieces together so the grain is perfectly mirrored. To further accentuate the Nighthawk's natural beauty, the body is bound by hand at Gibson's shop. Beyond the facade, the guitar's interior is chambered to offer weight relief and enhanced tone.
The average weight of a Nighthawk body is 4.60 lbs, which is about normal for a Gibson guitar.
The Nighthawk's mahogany body cranks out tone that is somewhat soft, but extremely well-balanced, with good grind and bite. It has the potential for good depth, with full (though not super-tight) lows, velvety highs and a slightly compressed response. Its maple cap adds the snap, sizzle and sustain associated with a Les Paul Standard. And like a number of Gibsons made today, the Nighthawk's chambered interior -- originally engineered just to make a guitar less back-breaking -- inadvertently provides tonal benefits too. Chambered guitars are louder acoustically and offer increased sustain and resonance.
The Nighthawk comes in a golden-hued Translucent Amber finish. This high-gloss lacquer was selected to accentuate the beautiful wood grain patterns of the maple top.
The 90-sheen lacquer finish gives the Nighthawk a sleek surface that's smooth to the touch.
The Nighthawk is finished by hand in a process that demands several coats and many hours. Unlike many guitar manufacturers, who settle for a polyurethane finish, Gibson opts for a nitrocellulose finish that will encourage the natural vibration of the instrument for a purer tone. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous and actually gets thinner over time. That way your guitar's wood can breathe and age beautifully.
Neck and Headstock
The neck of the Nighthawk is constructed from a solid piece of Grade-A mahogany, the hands-down best choice for guitarists who demand a strong but lightweight neck. Before becoming "putty" in the hands of Gibson's skilled craftsmen, the mahogany is milled and cut to a highly desirable "quarter sawn" wood grain orientation and then kiln dried until it has reached optimum moisture levels.
Gibson's traditional truss rod, found in most all of our guitars, is highly responsive to the individual adjustments you'll want to make to personalize and optimize string action and sustain.
The Nighthawk is fitted with Gibson's more traditional '50s neck profile, which is a round, meaty profile that emulates the neck shapes of the iconic 1958 and 1959 Les Paul Standards.
The Nighthawk headstock is carefully angled at a tried-and-true 17 degrees, which increases pressure on the strings and helps them stay in the nut slots. An increase in string pressure also means there is no loss of string vibration between the nut and the tuners, which equals better sustain.
The Gibson logo -- one of the most globally recognized logos of all time -- is inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the Nighthawk's headstock.
The angled, classical-style peg head, when matched with the Nighthawk's larger tenon, offers enhanced sustain.
The average weight of the neck on a Nighthawk is .94 lbs.
Gibson uses what is known as the Mortis & Tenon joint to bind neck to body so that the two pieces form one solid unit. This time-tested joint style has been used in all the great woodworking arts -- from shipbuilding to cabinetry -- and has been proven to yield a stronger neck and body than if the instrument was made from a single piece of wood.
The adhesive used to join neck and body on the Nighthawk is Franklin Titebond 50, one of the strongest glues on the market today.
When fitting the neck and body together, we take advantage of our precise measuring equipment so that all angles, pitches and alignments maintain a tolerance within .005 of an inch. Not only does this help to keep your guitar in tune but it also maintains proper string alignment relative to the fingerboard.
0.0* (+/- 15 seconds)
The Nighthawk is equipped with a Grade-A rosewood fingerboard, loved by guitarists the world over for its comfortable playability and mellow tone.
The 12-inch radius of the Nighthawk fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates "dead" or "choked out" notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses.
The Nighthawk sports 22 frets.
The Nighthawk's figured, swirl acrylic dot inlays are made of white ABS plastic, giving these classic inlays the mother-of-pearl look you lust for. The fingerboard also gets its aesthetic flair with traditional binding.
The average weight of a rosewood fingerboard is approximately .21 lbs.
Rosewood is a very popular fingerboard material, known worldwide for its warm tone.
The nut on the Nighthawk is made from Corian, which is mainly composed of acrylic polymer. It's a very durable material, delivers enhanced sustain, and holds the tolerances of the precision cuts made by Gibson's PLEK machine. It is installed into the top surface of the neck, butting up to the end of the fingerboard to ensure proper tone and sustain transfer.
The width of the nut on the Nighthawk is approximately 1.695-inch.
In the neck position, the Nighthawk's P-90 produces a colorful, cutting sound. This fat single-coil model is favored for its responsiveness. In the bridge position is Gibson's 498T "Hot Alnico" pickup, which uses a punchy Alnico V magnet and modified coil windings to provide more oomph for rock lead work.
The wire used in these pickups is made from polysol copper, which is insulated to resist leaking any electrical charge. It is the same wire used in pickup manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s.
The coil of each pickup is made from ABS plastic, which is hard and durable and can withstand a broad range of temperatures.
Pole Piece Material
The pole pieces inside each pickup are made from 416-grade stainless steel -- a highly machinable steel that is hardened by heat treatment. It is also known for its resistance to wear and corrosion.
Pole Piece Position From Nut
In the neck pickup, the pole pieces are positioned 19.44-inch from the nut, while the pole pieces in the bridge pickup are positioned 23.625-inch from the nut.
Magnet Position From Nut
The Alnico 5 magnet in the P-90 is positioned 20.13-inch from the nut, while the magnet in the 498T is positioned 22.94-inch from the nut.
In harmony with the natural resonance of the Nighthawk's tonewood, the P-90 and 498T push this guitar over the edge as a certifiable tone monster, ideal for tackling a variety of genres.
The Nighthawk features two Gold Top Hat volume controls with potentiometers made by CTS. The pots (short for potentiometer) have an ohm reading of 300k, which allows for a smooth variation from soft to loud.
The Nighthawk features one Gold Top Hat master tone control with a potentiometer made by CTS. The pot has an ohm reading of 500k, which is the highest value for a panel pot, and provides a very smooth transition between highs and lows.
The Nighthawk features one three-way toggle switch made of stainless steel, which acts as the instrument's pickup selector. In the down position, only the bridge pickup is active. In the middle position, both pickups are active. In the up position, only the neck pickup is active.
The Nighthawk features a 1/4-inch output jack made by Switchcraft. Its super heavy duty construction holds your guitar cable securely in place.
The headstock of the Nighthawk is equipped with Gibson's own vintage-style pearloid tuning keys. Plated in nickel, these keys are designed to withstand a lifetime of tunings.
In 1954, Gibson rocked the world when it debuted the tune-o-matic bridge, setting a standard for simplicity and functionality that has never been bettered. Included on the Nighthawk, the tune-o-matic provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields a great union between the strings and body, which results in excellent tone and sustain. The Nighthawk's bridge is made from Zamak then plated with Platinum, and each one weighs approximately .118 lbs.
Every Tune-o-matic bridge is combined with a separate "stopbar" tailpiece, which is essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge that's designed to further enhance the connection between the strings and the body. The Nighthawk's stopbar tailpiece is made from Zamak then plated with Platinum, and each one weighs approximately .168 lbs.
The Nighthawk's aluminum strap buttons are the same style and design that Gibson has used since the early 1950s.
Truss Rod Cover
As with most Gibson guitars, the truss rod cover on the Nighthawk is made from vinyl plastic, and is shaped like an antique bell.
The control knobs on the Nighthawk are Gibson's Gold Top Hat knobs, found on many vintage and modern Gibson guitars.
Pickup Trim Rings
The pickup trim rings on the Nighthawk are made of black ABS plastic.
The Nighthawk is fitted with genuine Gibson strings, sizes .010 - .046.
Your Nighthawk 2009 comes protected in one of Gibson's durable hardshell cases with the Gibson logo silk-screened across the front in white lettering.
Certificate of Authenticity
The Nighthawk comes with a 2009 Limited Run series Certificate of Authenticity.
zZounds is an authorized dealer of Gibson products.
Body Species: Grade A Mahogany
Top: AAA Bookmatched Maple
Body Weight: 4.60 lbs
Finish: High Gloss Translucent Amber
Neck and Headstock Species: Quarter-Sawn Solid Grade-A Mahogany
Neck Profile: ’50s neck profile
Joint Angle: 1.75 degrees
Headstock Angle: 17 degrees
Neck Weight: 0.94 lbs
Neck Joint: Mortis and Tenon
Adhesive: Franklin Titebond 50
Tolerance: Within .005 of an inch
Joint Angle: 0.0 degrees (+/- 15 seconds)
Fingerboard Species: Grade-A Rosewood
Inlays: Figured, Swirl Acrylic Dot
Fingerboard Weight: 0.21 lbs
Nut Material: Corian (composed of acrylic polymer)
Nut Width: 1.695 inches
- Adjustable Truss Rod
- Mother of Pearl Gibson logo
- Neck: P-90
- Bridge: 498T Hot Alnico pickup
Wire Material: Polysol copper
Coil Material: ABS plastic
Pole Piece Material: 416-grade stainless steel
Pole Piece Position: (From Nut)
- Neck Pickup: 19.44 inches
- Bridge Pickup: 23.625 inches
Magnet Position: (From Nut)
- P-90 (Alnico 5): 20.13 inches
- 498T: 22.94 inches
- Gold Top Hat volume controls with CTS 300k pots
- Gold Top Hat master tone control with CTS 500k pot
- Three-way stainless steel toggle switch
- Heavy Duty 1/4 inch Switchcraft output jack
- Gibson vintage-style nickel-plated pearloid tuning keys
- Tune-o-matic bridge
- Stopbar tailpiece
- Aluminum strap buttons
- Hardshell Case
- 2009 Limited Run series Certificate of Authenticity
Strings and Gauge: Gibson strings; Sizes .010-.046
If you have additional warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer at 800-4GIBSON