Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1963 Gibson Hummingbird

An early Gibson Hummingbird bedazzled with vintage 1960’s rhinestones - compliment’s of the original owner - some 55 years back. Vintage add-ons like these rhinestones, or period decals can add all kinds of extra allure to a vintage guitar, and about 95% of comments we received on our recent Instagram post of this guitar’s pickguard showed an overwhelming appreciation for this one in particular. The guitar is gorgeous, and scores high country cowboy points with us!

Brought to Folkway by its long-time second owner, this Hummingbird has been very well cared for throughout the years. It is without any cracks or significant wear to its finish and frets and is completely original but for a replacement bridge and bone nut (well, and the rhinestones of course). The original bridge is plastic, as was the norm in 1963, and it’s now hanging out in the case pocket, which is likely a much more appropriate place for it. The guitar has had just 3 brace-ends reglued in its past, which is well below Gibson’s average! Original gold Kluson tuners with original buttons, and the sticker on the back of the headstock is from the store in Brantford, Ontario where the guitar was bought new.

The early 60’s Hummingbirds are highly prized strummers and have a sound unlike anything else Gibson ever built. They are warm and thumpy and quite open, and have a slight compression through the upper mids that keep the trebles in check. This one has all that going on and a surprising volume and clarity too. Keith Richards is probably the most famous Hummingbird player, and a good number of the Stones’ best known tunes were penned on a guitar nearly identical to this one. But imagine how much cooler Keith and Mick would be if their Hummingbirds were rhinestone-clad, too!

Mahogany back and sides, spruce top, bound rosewood fingerboard with pearl parallelogram inlays. Hummingbird pickguard, ceramic adjustable bridge, multi-layered bindings, and original gloss finish. Vibrant red stain, typically crazed lacquer. 1-11/16” nutwidth, 24.75” scale, low C neck carve.

With hardshell case

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