According to the experts at Gibson, the new limited-edition Firebird X is the first guitar that allows players to access the fourth dimension. So what is the fourth dimension, exactly? Well, in order to understand that, we must understand the first three. Dimension 1 equals the basic guitar body. Dimension 2 came along in the 1920s and 30s when electromagnetic pickups were pioneered. Dimension 3 appeared when Les Paul tweaked the first guitar effects in the late 1940s. Apparently, Dimension 4 is the internalization of the signal chain within the instrument. And that’s just what the Firebird X is: a studio-grade next-generation electric guitar that has some handy features and innovations wrapped up in a package of unconventional looks.
The body is composed of hand-sorted swamp ash, the 23-fret neck is rock maple, and the fingerboard is curly maple. According to all sources, this gives the 6-pound guitar a lightweight feel and an effortless playability, while at the same time enhancing sustain and tonal range. And speaking of sustain, the Firebird X has little spaces called resonant chambers that also cut down on weight and increase sustain further. These chambers also increase acoustic tone of the piezos.
The look, however, is one that people have already weighed in on, but with mixed opinions. The body shape is very recognizable and favors its earlier Firebird ancestors. Accentuated wood with a high-end finish available in a blue or red is its skin, and the neck inlays are tilted parallelograms. Some claim that the Firebird X is too unconventional in its bold looks. I’m not sure there is such a thing as “too unconventional,” but I do think that it just boils down to personal taste.
The pickups are three mini-humbucker coils, and each one can be turned on or off. Plus you can use reverse polarity or switch to single coil modes. Add a bridge piezo with hexaphonic outputs and you have a world of electric or acoustic sound available at the flip of a switch And while you’re at it, blend ’em. It’s easy to do with the advanced tog-pots that Firebird X has along its body. Trademark GoldTone technology is another key aspect of this guitar, with Gibson claiming that the axe “emulates iconic guitar tones with analog technology–no digital modeling. Over 2,000 pickup combinations are possible, each with its own unique sound.” Luckily, switching between these combos is simple with user-friendly control knobs that Gibson employs in all its high-end designs.
But the true heart of this guitar is its updateable “Pure Analog” audio engine, a little box that lies inside the beast. Based on the latest generation of the Pro Tools TDM systems chip, the Freescale multi-processing unit is the generator that makes all the so-called analog sounds of the Firebird X a reality. And if you ever want to replace it with some of the new tech that Gibson plans on putting out in the future, it’s simple. Just unscrew the back panel and swap it out. No soldering necessary. Using the audio engine is a cinch too, with two primary modes to switch back and forth from. The first is Live setting which is used for easy switching between banks of preset effects, and the other is an Edit mode that allows you to shape sounds and effects and save them to your custom banks.
Although the price tag on this is a wee bit much (roughly 4,000 USD), the technology utilized in the Firebird X is worth looking at. Oh, and did we also mention that it has a the latest generation of robot tuning technology? Ahh, the fourth dimension has never sounded so good.