Blues guitar hero Johnny Winter is synonymous with the Gibson Firebird. Well renowned for his dazzling display of slide licks and lightening fast fretboard work Winter began his recording career at the age of 15 and rose to prominence in the late ‘60s after releasing his debut album The Progressive Blues Experiment in 1968.
Paying tribute to the inimitable bluesman the Gibson Custom Shop has released the Johnny Winter 1964 Firebird V. Sporting a Murphy Lab custom-aged Polaris White finish this replica electric guitar is a finely detailed recreation of Winters’ own iconic axe. From the faded Firebird pickguard emblem to the vibrato hole plugs this collectible work of art is the closest any fan will get to the real thing.
Reflecting the sleek, angular geometry of classic cars the Gibson Firebird line was released in 1963 comprising four models, all sporting a through-neck construction and bespoke mini humbuckers. This included the single pickup/dot inlay Firebird I; the double pickup/dot inlay Firebird III; the double pickup/trapezoid inlay Firebird V; and the triple pickup/block inlay Firebird VII.
Originally appearing in the ‘reverse’ style (meaning the treble horn extends further than the bass horn, while the lower bass bout extends beyond the lower treble bout) Gibson reworked the design in 1965. This later ‘mirror image’ incarnation of the Firebird became known as the ‘non-reverse’ style and features a glued-in neck, making it far easier and less costly to manufacture.
A little over 500 Firebird V models were shipped during 1964 making it a rare vintage guitar. Similarly, this limited run of 125 instruments makes the Gibson Johnny Winter 1964 Firebird V an even rarer bird. Allocated “JWFB”-prefixed serial numbers each guitar is supplied with a corresponding certificate of authenticity.
A bespoke case stenciled “J. Winter Firebird” contains some interesting candy, including an 8x10 photograph signed by the late, great photographer Mick Rock, a signature Dunlop slide and Johnny Winter/Gibson Custom Dunlop picks.
For more information head on over to Gibson.
You can currently order an instrument from this limited run of 125 Murphy Lab replica guitars from Guitar Center here.
Grab a copy of Johnny Winter's Captured Live! here.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.