Unveiled: The Gibson Firebird X

When your pet becomes deranged and self-destructive you take it to the vet’s office and have it put down; when you’re the Gibson Corporation you inject that rabies-fueled dementia into the Firebird X and roll it out as a “revolution” to a smattering of bewildered onlookers (i.e., a "press conference").

On October 28th, 2010 Gibson’s CEO summoned all his charisma (none) for a presentation that looked like it was decorated by Mrs. Miedlemeyer’s 3rd grade class, complete with a cheesy puff of smoke rising from a couple of cinder blocks ringed, in the end, by some long-forgotten rock stars, to introduce the world to a guitar that looks like something that Musician’s Friend would unload for $299 in their Dumbass Deal of the Day.


The stupidity was capped off by smashing a ‘normal’ guitar as if to proclaim the closing of an era.

I’m a promoter of technological innovation but there was nothing revolutionary about the Firebird X and the notion of embedding effects in the body of a guitar is not only a recycled idea that has proven to be unpopular and impractical but it also makes the instrument virtually obsolete the moment you buy it: today’s cutting edge is tomorrow’s laughable burden.

This clunky and inelegant abomination comes on top of Gibson’s inability to simply deliver ‘normal’ guitars that are not plagued by poor manufacturing practices and a consistent lack of quality control; I mean, really, this is a company that cannot even dress a fret properly. It would seem to me that one would have to have the basics of guitar-building in place before jumping off the cliff of robotic and digital instruments, etc.

So, what will the Firebird X be like? Who cares? Gibson will squirt out a thousand or two of these Firebirds and there will be enough orthodontists who have drunk the Kool-Aid to swipe them up at the absurd price of $5500+ (ooops, make that $4000 -- apparently, they haven't been moving) and that will be the end of it, until the next bad idea in what is shaping up to be an impressive run of bad ideas.

Like the Gibson Dusk Tiger that combined a tweener aesthetic with a hedge fun manager’s price, the Firebird X embodies an inconsistent clash of sensibilities for an unknown target audience at a price that puts it out of reach for virtually 99% of guitarists.