Atlanta Rhythm Section
Atlanta Rhythm Section is an American Southern rock band, formed in 1970 by Rodney Justo, Barry Bailey, Paul Goddard, Dean Daughtry, Robert Nix and J. R. Cobb; the band's current lineup consists of Daughtry and Justo, along with guitarists David Anderson and Steve Stone, bassist Justin Senker and drummer Rodger Stephan. In the spring of 1970, three former members of the Candymen and the Classics IV became the session band for the newly opened Studio One recording studio in Doraville, near Atlanta. After playing on other artists' recordings, the Atlanta Rhythm Section was formed, with Rodney Justo, Barry Bailey, Paul Goddard, Dean Daughtry, Robert Nix and James Cobb. Bailey and Goddard had played together in several groups and, like the Candymen, had backed up Roy Orbison; the group's name was thought up by Studio One's owner Buddy Buie and his two partners in the venture and Bill Lowery. Signed by Decca Records, the band released their first album, Atlanta Rhythm Section, in January 1972. Due to the record's limited commercial success, Justo quit the band, relocating to New York City as a session singer.
He was replaced by assistant to Studio One's engineer, Rodney Mills. Mills later worked as the band's road manager and sound man and Buie the band's manager and producer as well as co-owner of Studio One, is listed first on all of their songwriting credits. With Hammond on board, the band's second release, Back Up Against the Wall failed to sell and Decca dumped ARS from their roster. Buie's manager, Jeff Franklin, based in New York and had gotten the group the Decca deal, was able to get ARS signed to Polydor for their third release, Third Annual Pipe Dream, in August 1974; as a special thank-you to Bailey and Goddard for appearing on his pioneering 1970 Christian Rock album Mylon, We Believe, Mylon LeFevre performed on one of the Pipe Dream tracks, "Jesus Hearted People". Pipe Dream spun off the band's first hit single, "Doraville", which peaked at #35 and pulled the album up to #74 on Billboard's Top 200 by November 1974. Buie and the ARS developed a close relationship with Polydor's director of marketing, Arnie Geller, which helped make the promotion of their records a top priority at the company.
Though considered a Southern rock band, the addition of Hammond led them towards a more laid-back sound incorporating Bailey's distinctive lead guitar and bassist Goddard's use of a flat pick, with Daughtry's acoustic and electric piano at the forefront. The band's next two releases, Dog Days and Red Tape, sold in lesser quantities, but ARS made more of an effort to take to the road in 1975-1976 with numerous shows in the South and Midwest. On July 18, 1975 the band appeared with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra during an outdoor show in Atlanta in Chastain Park, and in August of that same year, they opened both for The Who at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville and The Rolling Stones at the Municipal Auditorium in West Palm Beach, Florida. The increased exposure paid off as the group's next album, A Rock and Roll Alternative, rose to #13 on the Billboard chart and was certified gold in the spring of 1977; the debut single from the record, "So in to You", peaked at #7 on April 30. Unlike their previous album gestation periods of several months or more, Polydor had given the band only 45 days to complete this "last chance" album.
On September 4, 1977 ARS played their biggest show yet, the Dog Day Rockfest at Atlanta's Grant Field on the campus of Georgia Tech. Heart and Foreigner were the opening acts and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band co-headlined with ARS. In January 1978 ARS released what would turn out to be its most successful album, Champagne Jam, which led off with the song "Large Time", a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, some of whom had lost their lives in a plane crash the previous October. Champagne Jam became their biggest selling album; the album provided two more hits for the band, "Imaginary Lover" and "I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight". On June 24, 1978 ARS appeared at the Knebworth Festival in Knebworth, England before a crowd of 60,000 on a bill that included Genesis, Jefferson Starship, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Brand X, Devo and Roy Harper. On July 1, 1978 they played before more than 80,000 at Texxas Jam at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas with Walter Egan, Van Halen, Eddie Money, Head East, Heart, Ted Nugent, Mahogany Rush and Cheech & Chong.
On August 26, 1978 it was Canada Jam at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Canada before their largest audience yet with the Doobie Brothers and the Commodores, among others. The following week, ARS had a rock festival of their own, Champagne Jam, at Grant Field at Georgia Tech on September 3, 1978, which included Santana, the Doobie Brothers, Eddie Money, Mose Jones and Mother's Finest. Three weeks they appeared on the White House lawn at President Jimmy Carter's invitation for his son Chip's 28th birthday party; the band had met Carter while he was still governor of Georgia during a press junket for their third album and had campaigned for him in the summer of'76 during his run for the presidency. The eighth Atlanta Rhythm Section album, was released in June 1979 and produced Top 20 hits "Do It or Die" and "Spooky", a remake of Cobb's and Buie's 196
EMG, Inc. is the current legal name of a company based in Santa Rosa, California that manufactures guitar pickups and EQ accessories. Among guitar and bass accessories, the company sells active humbucker pickups, such as the EMG 81, the EMG 85, the EMG 60, the EMG 89, they produce passive pickups such as the EMG-HZ Series, which include SRO-OC1's and SC Sets. There is a series geared towards a more traditional and passive sound known as the X series, their active pickups are most popular among hard rock and metal artists such as Metallica, Zakk Wylde, Judas Priest, Emperor, Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom, Death Angel, Malevolent Creation and Primus but used by others such as Prince, Vince Gill, Kyle Sokol, Steve Winwood, Steve Lukather and David Gilmour. The company was founded in 1976 by Rob Turner in California, it was called Dirtywork Studios, their first pickup was the same as their current 2011 model of EMG H and EMG HA models. The active humbucking pickup EMG 58 followed soon after.
The name was changed to "Overlend" in 1978. However, its products have always been called EMG pickups. In 1981, EMG active pickups became standard equipment on Steinberger guitars. According to Hap Kuffner, EMG pickups had widespread success in Europe, after first exhibiting at the 1983 Musikmesse tradeshow in Germany; the name was changed to EMG, Inc. in 1983. As Steinberger guitars became more popular among American metal and rock musicians, so did EMG pickups, vice versa. Early EMG pickup designs were made with a bar magnet inside for two reasons; the first reason is that the pole pieces had too much magnetism on the strings and could cause some lower notes to go out of pitch in a Doppler effect. The second reason is that the pole pieces can make tuning and placement of the strings much more difficult. Using the bar magnet however gave the strings a more balanced output; the design of the bar magnet gives it a smoother distortion, better sustain through the amplifier, have less fade onto the strings than the design of pole pieces.
EMG pickups are standard equipment on some models from guitar manufacturers such as BC Rich, ESP, Cort, Dean and Jackson Guitars. In addition to pickups, EMG Inc. has a line of guitar and bass accessories for altering equalization settings such as bass/treble and gain boosting, designed to work with most pickups. These can be found in instruments made by companies such as Schecter, who ship all of their basses with EMG equalization circuitry. EMG Inc. has four distinct product ranges. These pickups are all featured on the official EMG Inc. website and include solderless wiring harnesses. Standard SeriesThe Standard Series consists of all their standard active guitar and acoustic pickups, including humbucking, single coil, bass models for 4, 5, 6 string basses. EMG active pickups tend to have much higher output than passive pickups of similar design because of the on-board preamplifier; the high output, noise-reduction and responsiveness of EMG active pickups has made them popular with hard rock and heavy metal guitarists because they overdrive the input stage of guitar amplifiers more than a lower output pickup could.
In 2012 EMG introduced a new 57/66 set to replace the outdated EMG 60 and EMG 81 configuration in which the designs were based off the James Hetfield "JH Het Set" to mix high output from a passive pickup with the punch of the active pickups. HZ / SRO SeriesThe HZ / SRO Series is a variety of passive designs of humbucking and single coil pickups, as well as bass models for 4, 5, 6 string basses. HZ pickups are used in guitar and bass manufacturers as stock pickups. SA SeriesThe SA Series is an active single coil pick up with moderate gain output levels famous among Fender Strat players for extra volume and gain while retaining that classic vintage tone. X-SeriesThe X series is an active product designed to bridge the gulf between passive and active tonalities, they are active but are voiced to sound more organic, with a more rounded signal response like the passives, while retaining the active qualities such as noise reduction and high output. Signature Pickups and SetsEMG has released several signature pickups and sets for various artists, the two longest signature artists being Kerry King and Zakk Wylde, both are which are based around the EMG 81 and EMG 85 set.
There are signature sets for Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton, James Hetfield, Exodus' Gary Holt, Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho, Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler. Musicians and bands who use or endorse EMG pickups include: Metallica Slayer Sepultura Anthrax Cannibal Corpse David Gilmour El Hefe Jim Root Killswitch Engage Les Claypool Kyle Sokol Rammstein Zakk Wylde Black Veil Brides Nickelback Official website Premier Guitar Video: EMG Inc. Factory Tour Rob Turner Interview NAMM Oral History Library
A humbucking pickup, humbucker, or double coil, is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses two coils to "buck the hum" picked up by coil pickups caused by electromagnetic interference mains hum. Most pickups use magnets to produce a magnetic field around the strings, induce an electrical current in the surrounding coils as the strings vibrate. Humbuckers work by pairing a coil with the north poles of its magnets oriented "up", with another coil right next to it, which has the south pole of its magnets oriented up. By connecting the coils together out of phase, the interference is reduced via phase cancellation: the string signals from both coils add up instead of canceling, because the magnets are placed in opposite polarity; the coils can be connected in series or in parallel in order to achieve this hum-cancellation effect, although it's much more common for the coils of a humbucker pickup to be connected in series. In addition to electric guitar pickups, humbucking coils are sometimes used in dynamic microphones to cancel electromagnetic hum.
Hum is caused by the alternating magnetic fields created by transformers and power supplies inside electrical equipment using alternating current. While playing a guitar without humbuckers, a musician would hear a hum through the pickups during quiet sections of music. Sources of studio and stage hum include high-power amps, mixers, power lines, other equipment. Compared to single coil pickups unshielded ones, humbuckers reduce hum, produce a louder signal with more mid-range presence; the "humbucking coil" was invented in 1934 by Electro-Voice, an American professional audio company based in South Bend, Indiana that Al Kahn and Lou Burroughs incorporated in 1930 for the purpose of manufacturing portable public address equipment, including microphones and loudspeakers. The twin coiled guitar pickup invented by Arnold Lesti in 1935 is arranged as a humbucker, the patent USRE20070 describes the noise cancelation and current summation principles of such a design; this "Electric Translating Device" employed the solenoid windings of the pickup to magnetize the steel strings by means of switching on a short D.
C. charge before switching over to amplification. In 1938 A. F. Knoblaugh invented a pickup for stringed instruments involving 2 stacked coils; this pickup was to be used in pianos. The 1939 April copy of "Radio Craft Magazine" shows how to construct a guitar pickup made with two identical coils wrapped around self-magnetized iron cores, where one is flipped over to create a reverse wound, reverse polarity, humbucking orientation; the iron cores of these pickups were magnetized to have their north-south poles at the opposite ends of the core, rather than the now more common top-bottom orientation. To overcome the hum problem for guitars, a humbucking pickup was invented by Seth Lover of Gibson under instruction of then-president Ted McCarty. About the same time, Ray Butts developed a similar pickup, taken up by Gretsch guitars. Although Gibson's patent was filed 2 years before Gretsch's, Gibson's patent was issued 4 weeks after Gretsch's. Both patents describe a reverse wound and reverse polarity pair of coils.
A successful early humbucking pickup was the so-called PAF invented by Seth Lover in 1955. Because of this, because of its use on the Gibson Les Paul guitar, popularization of the humbucker is associated with Gibson, although humbuckers had been used in many different guitar designs by many different manufacturers before. Humbuckers are known as dual-coil, double-coil, or hum-canceling pickups. Rickenbacker offered dual coil pickups arranged in a humbucking pattern beginning in late 1953 but dropped the design in 1954 due to the perceived distorted sound, which had stronger mid-range presence; the Gibson Les Paul was the first guitar to use humbuckers in substantial production, but since even some models of Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters, traditionally fitted with single-coil pickups, are factory-equipped with humbuckers. Stratocasters fitted with one humbucker in the bridge position, resulting in a pickup configuration noted as H-S-S are referred to as "Fat Strats", because of the "fatter", "rounder" tone offered by the humbucking pickup.
In any magnetic pickup, a vibrating guitar string, magnetized by a fixed magnet within the pickup, induces an alternating voltage across its coil. However, wire coils make excellent antennae and are therefore sensitive to electromagnetic interference caused by alternating magnetic fields from mains wiring and electrical appliances like transformers and computer screens the older CRT monitors. Guitar pickups reproduce this noise, which can be quite audible, sounding like a constant hum or buzz; this is most noticeable when using distortion, compressors, or other effects which reduce the signal-to-noise ratio and therefore amplify the unwanted interference relative to the signal from the strings. The direction of voltage induced across a coil by the moving string depends on both the coil winding direction and the polarity of the fixed magnet. On the other hand, the direction of current induced by external fields is only dependent on the direction of winding. Therefore, a humbucker has two coils wound in such a way to cancel hum and maximize signal when they are connected.
By convention humbucker coils are both wound counterclockwise.
The Epiphone Wilshire is a solid body electric guitar made by Epiphone from 1959 to 1970. It was positioned between the lower specification Coronet; the Wilshire was reissued in two versions, the Wilshire II and Wilshire III, from 1982 to 1985. It remains in the Epiphone catalog; the Wilshire was introduced in 1959 as a symmetrical, double-cut, solid body guitar with a square-edged body and two P-90 pickups. For the 1963 model year, the guitar was changed to an asymmetrical shape with rounded edges and two alnico mini-humbucker pickups, it remained in this configuration for the remainder of its production run. The Wilshire was reissued from 1982 to 1985 as the Wilshire II and Wilshire III; the Wilshire II had two mini-humbucker pickups and the Wilshire III had three. Epiphone once again reissued the Wilshire beginning in 2009. Several models were introduced: the limited edition Pro,'66 Worn and'62 USA. In 2011, Epiphone released the Frank Iero signature Wilshire "Phant-o-Matic". Doug Robertson of Premier Guitar praised the Wilshire, saying it was "perfect for old-school garage rock."
He stated that it "is the epitome of functional design. It’s simple and versatile, yet it’s stylish enough to leap off an album cover." Robertson noted: "This neck works great for power chords and tight rhythm jabs, but it may not be the most lead-player-friendly." In reviewing the'62 Wilshire for the September 2009 issue of Guitar Player magazine, it was noted that "this thing rings out acoustically, with a bright snap to the notes, underpinned by a rich, woody resonance." Wayne Kramer P. Skunk Jimi Hendrix Bruce Springsteen Pete Townshend Johnny Winter Jeff Tweedy Nick McCarthy Frank Iero Pete Doherty Ryan Jarman Stewart Cunningham of Leadfinger Jack Antonoff Mike Stroud of Ratatat Anna Fox Rochinski of Quilt Paul Gilbert
Rickenbacker International Corporation is an electric string instrument manufacturer based in Santa Ana, California. The company is credited as the first known maker of electric guitars —in 1932—and produced a range of electric guitars and bass guitars. Known for their distinctive jangle and chime, Rickenbacker twelve string guitars were favored by The Beatles, Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers. Well known players of the six string include John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Kay of Steppenwolf, Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp founded the company in 1931 as the Ro-Pat-In Corporation to sell electric Hawaiian guitars. Beauchamp had designed these instruments, assisted by Paul Barth and Harry Watson, at National String Instrument Corporation, they chose the brand name Rickenbacher. Early examples bear the brand name Electro; the early instruments were nicknamed "fry-pans" because of circular bodies.
They are the first known solid-bodied electric guitars. They had a single pickup with a steel cover. By the time they ceased producing the "fry pan" model in 1939, they had made several thousand. Electro String sold amplifiers to go with their guitars. A Los Angeles radio manufacturer named Van Nest designed the first Electro String production-model amplifier. Shortly thereafter, design engineer Ralph Robertson further developed the amplifiers, by the 1940s at least four different Rickenbacker models were available. James B. Lansing of the Lansing Manufacturing Company designed the speaker in the Rickenbacker professional model. During the early 1940s, Rickenbacker amps were sometimes repaired by Leo Fender, whose repair shop evolved into the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company. George Beauchamp was a vaudeville performer and steel guitarist who, like many acoustic guitarists in the pre-electric-guitar 1920s, was looking for some way to make his instrument cut through an orchestra.
He first conceived of a guitar fitted with a phonograph-like amplifying horn. He approached inventor and violin-maker John Dopyera, who made a prototype that was, by all accounts, a failure, their next collaboration involved experiments with mounting three conical aluminum resonators into the body of the guitar beneath the bridge. These efforts produced an instrument that so pleased Beauchamp that he told Dopyera that they should go into business to manufacture them. After further refinements, Dopyera applied for a patent on the so-called tri-cone guitar on April 9, 1927. Thereafter and his brothers made the tri-cone guitars in their Los Angeles shop, under the brand name National. On January 26, 1928, the National String Instrument Corporation opened, with a new factory located near a metal-stamping shop owned by Adolph Rickenbacher and staffed by experienced and competent craftsmen; the company made Spanish and Hawaiian style tri-cone guitars as well as four-string tenor guitars and ukuleles.
Adolph Rickenbacher was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1887 and emigrated to the United States to live with relatives after the death of his parents. Sometime after moving to Los Angeles in 1918, he changed his surname to "Rickenbacker". In 1925, Rickenbacker and two partners formed the Rickenbacker Manufacturing Company and incorporated it in 1927. By the time he met George Beauchamp and began manufacturing metal bodies for the "Nationals" being produced by the National String Instruments Corporation, Rickenbacker was a skilled production engineer and machinist. Adolph Rickenbacher became a shareholder in National and, with the assistance of his Rickenbacker Manufacturing Company, National boosted production to fifty guitars a day. National's line of instruments was not well diversified and, as demand for the expensive and hard-to-manufacture tri-cone guitars began to slip, the company realized that it would need to produce instruments with a lower production cost to remain competitive. Dissatisfaction with what John Dopyera felt was mismanagement led him to resign from National in January 1929.
He subsequently formed the Dobro Manufacturing Corporation called Dobro Corporation and began to manufacture his own line of resonator-equipped instruments. Patent infringement disagreements between National and Dobro led to a lawsuit in 1929, with Dobro suing National for $2 million in damages. Problems within National's management as well as pressure from the deepening Great Depression led to a production slowdown at National; this resulted in part of the company's fractured management structure organizing support for George Beauchamp's newest project: development of a electric guitar. By the late twenties, the idea for electrified string instruments had been around for some time, experimental banjo and guitar pickups had been developed. George Beauchamp had experimented with electric amplification as early as 1925, but his early efforts, which used microphones, did not produce the effect he desired. Beauchamp pursued the idea, building a one-string test guitar out of a 2X4 piece of lumber and an electric phonograph pickup.
As problems at National became more apparent, Beauchamp's home experiments became more rigorous, he began to attend night classes in electronics and collaborate with fellow National employee Paul Barth. When they developed a prototype electric pickup that met their satisfaction, Beauchamp asked former National shop craftsman Harry Watson to make a wooden neck and body to hold the pickup. Somebody nicknamed it the "fry-pan" because of its shape, though Rickenbacker liked to call it the pancake. Th
The Who are an English rock band formed in London in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon, they are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide. The Who developed from an earlier group, the Detours, established themselves as part of the pop art and mod movements, featuring auto-destructive art by destroying guitars and drums on stage, their first single as the Who, "I Can't Explain", reached the UK top ten, followed by a string of singles including "My Generation", "Substitute" and "Happy Jack". In 1967, they performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and released the US top ten single "I Can See for Miles", while touring extensively; the group's fourth album, 1969's rock opera Tommy, included the single "Pinball Wizard" and was a critical and commercial success. Live appearances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, along with the live album Live at Leeds, cemented their reputation as a respected rock act.
With their success came increased pressure on lead songwriter Townshend, the follow-up to Tommy, was abandoned. Songs from the project made up 1971's Who's Next, which included the hit "Won't Get Fooled Again"; the group released the album Quadrophenia in 1973 as a celebration of their mod roots, oversaw the film adaptation of Tommy in 1975. They continued to tour to large audiences before semi-retiring from live performances at the end of 1976; the release of Who Are You in 1978 was overshadowed by the death of Moon shortly after. Kenney Jones replaced Moon and the group resumed activity, releasing a film adaptation of Quadrophenia and the retrospective documentary The Kids Are Alright. After Townshend became weary of touring, the group split in 1983; the Who re-formed for live appearances such as Live Aid in 1985, a 25th anniversary tour in 1989 and a tour of Quadrophenia in 1996–1997. They resumed regular touring with drummer Zak Starkey. After Entwistle's death in 2002, plans for a new album were delayed.
Townshend and Daltrey continued as the Who, releasing Endless Wire in 2006, continue to play live with Starkey, bassists Pino Palladino and Jon Button, guitarist Simon Townshend serving as touring players. A tour with a complete symphony orchestra, along with a planned studio album, are both scheduled for 2019; the Who's major contributions to rock music include the development of the Marshall stack, large PA systems, use of the synthesizer and Moon's lead playing styles, Townshend's feedback and power chord guitar technique, the development of the rock opera. They are cited as an influence by hard rock, punk rock and mod bands, their songs still receive regular exposure; the founder members of the Who, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, grew up in Acton and went to Acton County Grammar School. Townshend's father, played saxophone and his mother, had sung in the entertainment division of the Royal Air Force during World War II, both supported their son's interest in rock and roll.
Townshend and Entwistle became friends in their second year of Acton County, formed a trad jazz group. Both were interested in rock, Townshend admired Cliff Richard's début single, "Move It". Entwistle moved to guitar, but struggled with it due to his large fingers, moved to bass on hearing the guitar work of Duane Eddy, he built one at home. After Acton County, Townshend attended Ealing Art College, a move he described as profoundly influential on the course of the Who. Daltrey, in the year above, had moved to Acton from Shepherd's Bush, a more working-class area, he had trouble fitting in at the school, discovered gangs and rock and roll. He found work on a building site. In 1959 he started the Detours, the band, to evolve into the Who; the band played professional gigs, such as corporate and wedding functions, Daltrey kept a close eye on the finances as well as the music. Daltrey spotted Entwistle by chance on the street carrying a bass and recruited him into the Detours. In mid-1961, Entwistle suggested Townshend as a guitarist, Daltrey on lead guitar, Entwistle on bass, Harry Wilson on drums, Colin Dawson on vocals.
The band played instrumentals by the Shadows and the Ventures, a variety of pop and trad jazz covers. Daltrey was considered the leader and, according to Townshend, "ran things the way he wanted them". Wilson was fired in mid-1962 and replaced by Doug Sandom, though he was older than the rest of the band, a more proficient musician, having been playing semi-professionally for two years. Dawson left after arguing with Daltrey and after being replaced by Gabby Connolly, Daltrey moved to lead vocals. Townshend, with Entwistle's encouragement, became the sole guitarist. Through Townshend's mother, the group obtained a management contract with local promoter Robert Druce, who started booking the band as a support act; the Detours were influenced by the bands they supported, including Screaming Lord Sutch, Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. The Detours were interested in the Pirates as they only had one guitarist, Mick Green, who inspired Townshend to combine rhythm and lead guitar in his style.
Entwistle's bass became more of a lead instrument. In February 1964, the Detours became aware of the group Johnny Devlin and the Detours and changed their name. Townshend and his room-mate Richard Barnes spent a night c
The Gibson Firebird is a solid-body electric guitar manufactured by Gibson from 1963 to the present. The Gibson Guitar Corporation released several new styles during the 1950s to compete with Fender's solid-body instruments, such as the Telecaster and Stratocaster. After success with the Les Paul in the 1950s, Gibson's popularity began to wane in the 1960s. Fender's colors and multiple pickups were endorsed by notable guitarists. Gibson's guitars, most of which were hollow or semi-hollow designs, seemed old-fashioned. Coupled with higher prices, this contributed to a decline in sales. Gibson had made forays into radical body shapes – the Flying V and Explorer in the 1950s – which met limited initial success; the president of Gibson, Ted McCarty, hired car designer Ray Dietrich to design a guitar that would have popular appeal. Under Dietrich, the Firebird took on the lines of mid-50s car tailfins. Dietrich rounded the edges; the most unusual aspect is that the guitar is "backward" in that the right-hand horn of the body is longer than the other.
Thus, the original Firebirds were unofficially referred to as "reverse". The Firebird looks like an Explorer with softer "points," or maybe a reverse Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster; the Firebird is the first Gibson solid-body to use neck-through construction, wherein the neck extended to the tail end of the body. The neck itself is made up of five plies of mahogany interspersed with four narrow strips of walnut for added strength. Other features were reverse headstock and "banjo"-style planetary geared tuning keys; the special original Gibson Firebird humbucking pickup – single, dual or triple – were smaller footprint versions of standard Gibson humbucking pickups, but were unique in that inside each of their smaller bobbins contained an AlNiCo bar magnet. Original Firebird pickups were built without any specific bobbin fasteners – their bobbins were held onto the frame during both the wax potting process and the solid metal cover, soldered to the frame base. There are no screw poles on Firebird pickups.
Some Firebirds from 1965 featured Gibson's single-coil P-90 pickup. The Firebird line went on sale in mid-1963 with four models distinguished by pickup and tailpiece configurations. Unlike the Les Paul and SG line, which used the terms "Junior", "Special", "Standard" and "Custom", the Firebird used the Roman numerals "I", "III", "V" and "VII". Gibson's line of Thunderbird basses is rooted in the design of the Firebird, uses Roman numerals to distinguish it. From 1965 to 1969, Gibson introduced "non-reverse" models after failing to achieve marketing success with the unusual reverse-body design. Gibson had received complaints from Fender that the Firebird headstock mirrored the Stratocaster and that the body violated Fender's design patents, with Fender threatening a lawsuit; the "non-reverse" body is a more standard double-cutaway design, with the bass horn being longer than the treble horn and the headstock having the tuners mounted on the bass side. It had a standard glued-in neck rather than neck-through construction, as well as other, less noticeable changes in design and build.
Pickup and tailpiece configuration for the V and VII were the same as the earlier "reverse" models, although the I- and III-models were now shipped with two or three P-90 pickups and plain vibratos. After a few years of disappointing sales, the "non-reverse" line was dropped. "Reverse" body Firebirds were first reissued in 1972, with a commemorative "Bicentennial" model released in 1976, made available in a variety of finishes including black, vintage white and the traditional sunburst. The bicentennial model was distinguished by gold hardware and a red-white-blue logo on the white pickguard; the logo on most other models is red. The "reissue" Firebirds are based on the original reverse body design, though Gibson reintroduced the non-reverse Firebird in 2002 as a Custom Shop guitar. Many types have been released. Epiphone, owned by Gibson issued Firebirds. Beginning in 2010, Gibson stated that they would no longer be creating banjo tuners for the Firebird. Gibson reissues of the Firebird do not use the same pickup build, introduced in 1963.
The modern Firebird pickups have more output, more midrange, less treble "bite" than the original design. Firebird I – One pickup. Combination stud bridge/tailpiece. Nickel hardware. Dot inlays. Firebird II Artist CMT – A limited-production instrument from the early 1980s. Firebird III – Two pickups, stud bridge/tailpiece and Gibson Vibrola. Nickel hardware. Dot inlays and neck binding. Firebird V – Two pickups, Tune-o-matic bridge with Maestro "Lyre" Vibrola. Nickel hardware. Trapezoid inlays and neck binding. Firebird VII – Three pickups, Tune-o-matic bridge and Maestro "Lyre" Vibrola tailpiece. Gold hardware. Block inlays and neck binding. Firebird Studio – Two standard-sized Alnico humbuckers, Tune-o-matic bridge with stop-bar tailpiece. Chrome or gold hardware. Set neck. Dot inlays and no neck binding. Firebird XII – A two-pickup, twelve-string non-reverse Firebird. Non-Reverse Firebird – Collectors' term for a Firebird I, III, V or VII featuring a headstock with the tu