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Rating and Reviews: Gibson 2018 LE Firebird Elite

Step above the usual look of the Firebird with this gorgeous Elite model. A Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish and gold hardware make this axe unforgettable.

User Ratings
Ease of Use
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
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"Typical Gibson...Good and Bad" submitted May 15, 2018

By Bluesman Sammy Guy in Poconos, PA
Ease of Use
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: Professional, 50 years playing, guitar, drums, keys, violin, bass,
Music Style: Blues, rock, funk R&B
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Sound: The set up was pretty good right out of the box. The strings are the same gauge I usually use, but I think guitar companies put cheap strings on because everyone changes those anyway. The action is a bit high, but that too is a personal preference and easily adjusted. The sound is the best feature. It simply sounds like a Firebird should. Feature: Pickups, knobs, switches are all typical Firebird and in the correct position. Not much more to say on that. Sweet sounding, good components. Ease of Use: Now here is where it shines: I am a 'Firebird' guy, it is my signature sound (which is why I have 6 of them). If you're a 'strat' player, you will have a 'learning curve' to get used to the longer, flatter neck. You'll either love or hate it. Me personally, it is the only guitar I want to play, have been using them since I purchased my first in 1976. I have other guitars, but these are the ones that get the gigs. Quality: Hmmm... quality? I could say "It's a Gibson' which could be good or bad. In my opinion, for the name, the price and the reputation, I expected more. The finish is really poorly applied, has ripples, and a spot that seems was missed with the nitrocellulose. My other Firebird has the same issues with the finish. I know these guitars are harder to finish and build, but they have been making them since around 1962 or so, so you'd think they'd figure it out by now. That's my biggest gripe about the newest run of Gibsons. And probably why they started making satin finished guitars, since the people applying the high gloss seem to need a bit more training. If this was the only one that I saw with this issue, I would figure it's a 'one off' but I have several with the same issues. Value: Look, I love Firebirds. This one cost twice what I paid just last year for basically the same thing. I love the sounds I get. But as to value, well, (and again its just my opinion, nothing more) I don't see a thousand dollar difference between the two. This one is pretty for sure, but so is my other one. Manufacturer Support: I had a Firebird a few years ago that was routed too large for the pickups and they rocked. I called Gibson and they wanted me to send it to them, my expense. They said it could take months to get back. I stuffed a sponge in the hole to keep the pickup from rocking. The rep said that was a good idea...that's about the extent of my dealing with support. In other words...that guitar couldn't be sold fast enough. I also wrote them a letter about a Les Paul I had...5 years ago...still waiting on a response. The Wow Factor: Maybe I'm too jaded after 50 years of playing, and it takes a lot to wow me. This one is nice, no doubt, and I love Firebirds, but with the finish issues, the wow factor just ain't there for me. I'm keeping this and using it in concerts, but to me its a workhorse guitar, that's all. Some other axes I have, I get the 'wow' factor. This one, just a smile. Overall: This is my 6th Firebird. First, the service from zZounds is fantastic! Arrived in one day. Now about the guitar: It's 'OK'. The color is very nice and the gold hardware is stunning. It sounds great, like a Firebird should. But...I purchased another last year for 1/2 the price (sunburst tobacco or whatever they call it) and other than the color, and a pickup ring on the bridge pickup I can't see the difference that would cause it to be double the price. The finish, although pretty, has ripples in it, same as my old one. In fact, more orange peeled than the 2016 one I already have. When I took it out of the box, the security tape was already cut and the plastic film on the pick guard and pickups was missing so I am assuming this was a return or demo. There was a little left around the knobs so it was there at some point but someone removed it. Not too pleased about that on a $2000 guitar but it plays well, and the intonation issues I have with my older one are not present, so its a keeper. The binding on the neck is bright white, unlike the cream binding on the 2016.
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