After a couple of weeks of Apple-esque hype, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz gave what he calls the revolutionary the Firebird X a smashing start at the press launch in New York. Featuring built-in effects, robotic tuning and coming with wireless pedal controllers, the lightweight new model is being offered in a strictly limited run.
New York's Hard Rock Cafe played host to the launch of Gibson's latest attempt at bringing the electric six-string into the digital age, where Juszkiewicz stunned members of the assembled press by smashing a guitar to pieces to usher in a new era of guitar technology. Previous outings have included the Dusk Tiger which allowed for PC-enabled tone changes and incorporated the kind of robotic, self-tuning technology seen in the earlier Dark Fire and carried through to the new model.
In addition to the Firebird X's RoboHead tuners and Tune-o-matic/Piezo robot bridge to help keep the guitar in prefect tune, players are offered onboard, fader-fueled multiple effects such as distortion, EQ, reverb and compression and front facing toggle controls. Gibson says that players should be able to control numerous effects on the fly, with "a minimum of motion and disruption from playing the music." An accessory pack includes Bluetooth pedals for wireless expression and tone control.
To the front of the lightweight, chambered ash body can also be found the familiar volume and control knobs and 5-way pickup selector and a not-so-familiar LED-lit Master Control Knob. There's also a threesome of FBX pickups - alnico II for the neck, ceramic for the middle and alnico V for the bridge. The brand new electronics within come with a Pure-Analog Digital Signal Processing engine with Goldtone FX and the single-piece maple neck sports a Brazilian Marblewood fingerboard sporting 23 frets.
Ableton Live 8 and Guitar Rig Pro 4 are supplied with the Firebird X, for digital tone processing via a PC or Mac and the whole package comes with a special FBX vinyl case.
The reception to the new model on musician forums has been somewhat mixed, with a fair amount of passion coming from both the "Fail" and the "Future" camps. Gibson are banking on its "revolutionary Firebird X" becoming an iconic collector's piece and to help it achieve such a status, is limiting its production run. It will become available worldwide on December 11 and carries a recommended retail price of US$5,570. Once the initial run is gone, that's it – there'll be no more.