Gibson Hummingbird Special Edition
|Period||1960 - present|
|Body type||Square-shoulder dreadnought|
|Body||Sitka Spruce top
Mahogany back and sides
|Pickup(s)||L.R.Baggs Element Active|
|Natural, Cherryburst, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Tobacco Sunburst, Vintage Cherryburst, Silverburst|
Unlike the other flat-top Gibson acoustics, the Hummingbird was Gibson's first square-shoulder dreadnought, similar to the dreadnoughts produced by C.F. Martin & Company. Introduced in 1960, the Hummingbird was Gibson's second-most expensive acoustic guitar, behind the Gibson J-200, until the introduction of the Gibson Dove in 1962, (a blend between the Hummingbird and the J-200.) The Hummingbird features a mahogany back and sides, a decorative pickguard with a hummingbird design, and split-parallelogram Mother of Pearl fretboard and headstock inlays, Spruce top and Rosewood bridge. The Gibson Hummingbird was winner of Acoustic Guitar's Player's Choice Award for the Dreadnought Category in 2000, and was described thus: "The Hummingbird has a very wide range of sound, from gutsy and loud, to sweet and soft. Superb for all styles of playing, whether just chording or playing intricate solos."
- 1 Models
- 2 Epiphone versions
- 3 Notable Hummingbird players
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The Hummingbird model was introduced in 1960 with a solid Sitka Spruce top and solid mahogany back. The sides are mahogany but not all of them are solid, many are laminated. They have adjustable saddles, 3-ply maple bridge plates, single X-bracing, engraved hummingbird pickguards with 2 points on upper treble bout and 1 point level with bridge, as well as bound fretboards with double parallelogram inlays, crown peghead inlay on headstocks, gold tuners, and cherryburst (a.k.a. cherry sunburst) finish.
Some Hummingbirds produced in 1962 and 1963 have maple back and sides. Natural top with cherry back and sides finish was available in 1963. Also since then, the size of the pickguard has been slightly reduced.
Some Hummingbirds produced in 1965 had their sides around the neck and at the end pin painted black to hide where Gibson over-sanded the body, and sanded through the top layer of the mahogany laminated sides.
In 1968, the bottom belly bridge became more squarish. Some hummingbirds with tobacco sunburst finish were produced. Some have pickguards attached with screws.
The bracing was changed to be large and bulky in 1969; a double X-bracing has been used since 1971.
Since 1970, the saddles are no longer adjustable, and the necks are made of laminated three-piece mahogany. The fretboard inlays were changed to block ones, then restored to double parallelograms in 1984.
Modern Classic model
The Hummingbird Modern Classic model is an electric-acoustic model. It has a AAA-grade solid Sitka spruce top, with mahogany back and sides, as well as a rosewood fretboard with double parallelogram inlays, a crown peghead inlay headstock, nickel Grover rotomatic tuners and a custom-made hummingbird tortoise-shell pickguard. An L.R. Baggs Element Active pickup system is also installed. This model is available in cherryburst, heritage cherryburst and natural finishes.
True Vintage model
The True Vintage model features vintage appearance and sound. It has gold Gotoh green button tuners and a vintage cherryburst finish, which make the guitar look like a 1960 model. It has no electronics.
Icon '60s model
The Icon '60s Hummingbird is a natural finished model with block inlays in the fretboard rather than the double parallelograms. It also has an adjustable saddle and an original 1960s style hummingbird pickguard; all of these make it look like a 1960s vintage model.
The Hummingbird Artist model is quite different, it is a Guitar Center exclusive release, with a shape between a square-shoulder dreadnought (e.g. Hummingbird Modern Classic) and a round-shoulder dreadnought (e.g. J-45). It does not have a Hummingbird pickguard (it uses a modern sculpted pickguard instead). An L.R. Baggs Element Active pickup system is also installed. This model has a washed heritage cherry finish.
The Hummingbird Pro model is also an exclusive release for the Guitar Center, which has the same shape as the Artist model. A cutaway model (Hummingbird Pro EC) is also available. The Hummingbird Pro comes with a L.R. Baggs Element Active pickup system, while the cutaway model has a Fishman Prefix Plus-T preamp system equipped. This model has a vintage sunburst finish.
Custom KOA model
The Hummingbird Custom KOA model is a custom model, with back and sides constructed from highly figured koa wood. It has gold Grover mother of pearl keystone tuners, custom in-flight hummingbirds peghead logo and hummingbird floral tortoise-shell pickguard, all expressed in genuine abalone and mother of pearl. It also has ebony fretboard with rolled edges and Orpheum-style abalone inlays. This model has an antique natural finish.
The Hummingbird Sheryl Crow model is a signature model designed for the American singer Sheryl Crow, who is also a notable Gibson user. It has a natural finish and a special pickguard, nickel Gotoh white oval button tuners and other features almost all the same as those of the Modern Classic model.
Southern Jumbo/Country Western (square-shoulder dreadnought)
The Southern Jumbo model was first introduced in 1942 as a round-shoulder dreadnought. In 1963, Gibson changed the design to a square-shoulder. This mahogany-back-and-side guitar has mostly the same specifications as the Hummingbird, so it is categorized as a Hummingbird variation.
In 1962, the natural top finished Southern Jumbo was named the "SJN Country Western", which is also the predecessor of the Sheryl Crow model, according to the Gibson official website. This indicates that the square-shoulder Southern Jumbo/Country Western is a variation of the Hummingbird.
This model was discontinued in 1977, while the round-shoulder version was reintroduced in 1991, and is still available today.
Other special models
The Gibson custom shop also produces several special or limited models, such as the Silverburst special edition which has a silverburst finish, the Hummingbird Quilted model with quilted mahogany back and sides. Most of them are based on the Modern Classic model. In 2008 Gibson also released a very few Hummingbird Modern Classics with a Vintage Sunburst finish, the same finish seen on a J-45 Standard. The Gibson label found on the inside of this Hummingbird says "Hummingbird, Fuller's Vintage Edition". All the other specifications, such as materials and tuning keys, are the same as the specifications of the standard model.
In 2010, Gibson introduced the Limited Edition 50th Anniversary 1960 Hummingbird series, including the Standard (Heritage Dark Cherry Sunburst), the Rosewood (Heritage Dark Cherry Sunburst) and the KOA (Gold Honey Burst) models.
A cheaper version of the Hummingbird is also made by the Epiphone branch of Gibson. The original Epiphone Dove was available in natural, cherryburst and black. It was also made with cheaper woods but featured the same design fretboard inlays, bridge and similar pickguard, but without genuine mother of pearl. It also featured Grover tuners, rather than the unbranded tuners featured on cheaper Epiphone models. The Epiphone Hummingbird was made in China.
Epiphone reintroduced their version of Gibson's Hummingbird in 2012. Called the Hummingbird Pro, it features a solid spruce top (instead of a laminate top), a mahogany body & neck, a Shadow ePerformer pickup system, and a heritage cherryburst finish. The Hummingbird Pros are made in Indonesia.
Notable Hummingbird players
In 1968, Keith Richards of the The Rolling Stones used a Gibson Hummingbird for the initial recordings of the melody for the song Street Fighting Man Neil Young, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Layne Staley (Alice In Chains) and Lindi Ortega also used a Hummingbird.
- Vintage Guitars Info - Hummingbird
- According to the Gibson official website, the Sheryl Crow model is a variation of the Hummingbird model.
- According to the Gibson official website, the Sheryl Crow model is a recreation of Sheryl Crow's Country Western.
- "Epiphone Hummingbird". Epiphone.com.
- "Keith Richards: 'I Had a Sound in My Head That Was Bugging Me'". Wall Street Journal.
- Hummingbird (Modern Classic model) on Gibson official website