Burny Firebird VII - 1990
This Burny made Firebird VII is a great find and built to a very high specification. It’s a model that doesn’t appear in any catalog and was very likely a limited run, custom order done by one of the Japanese music stores. Before I get into the details of this guitar, its worth going over a bit of history on the original Gibson model it is based on.
In 1963 Gibson introduced a new guitar model line, the Firebird which came in four versions, the Firebird I, III, V and VII. To get an entirely new and innovative design, Gibson hired Ray Dietrich, who was a famous designer of automobiles, whose firm had done work for Lincoln, Packard, Duesenberg and Ford. The design was indeed very different.
The guitar featured a through neck design, with the neck being five piece, using mahogany and maple. Through neck ran the length of the body, with mahogany wings attached to the wide center section. Headstock was a unique reverse style with banjo style tuners.
On the Firebird I, III and V, the fretboard was rosewood with pearloid markers, while the VII was made with an ebony fretboard and mother of pearl markers. Fret markers were dot on the I and II, crown on the V and block on the VII. All models came with newly designed mini-humbuckers, I with a single, III and V with two and the VII with three pickups. The V and VII came with a Deluxe Gibson Maestro Vibrola featuring an engraved cover. Hardware was nickel plated on all models, except the VII which was gold-plated.
At the time, the Firebird VII was the most expensive single neck solid body Gibson sold. Gibson offered an optional Faultless Case for the Firebird, black with a yellow lining.
These were expensive and complicated guitars for Gibson to produce, so it wasn't long before they changed them. Firebirds started production in Late October or early November 1963 and ended in 1965. By June of 1965 Gibson had come up with new revised Firebird models that were much less costly to produce.
So back to the Burny, which was made in March of 1990 and appears all original. It has the correct reverse headstock with Banjo style tuners and an ebony fretboard with block markers made from mother of pearl. It has a set neck, made from one piece of mahogany, rather than laminated through neck, but it is mounted into a beautiful one piece mahogany body.
Pickups are triple mini humbucker, switching is the same as the original (N, M&B, B) and it has a Deluxe Maestro Vibrola with engraved Burny cover. Hardware is finished in gold and the guitar has its original case, which in a nod to the optional Gibson Flawless Case, is black with a yellow interior.
A worthy effort inspired by the original.
Pickups have a unique voicing, making for some great tones.
I happened to stumble onto a Japanese blog dedicated to the Firebirds and it shows a Burny Firebird VII from the early 90’s that looks just like this one. Unfortunately there were no details as to its specifications, but it does look like they were made together. According to the blog, Mitaka Musical Instruments custom ordered about ten of these from Burny. If that is the case, then this Burny is very likely one of the Mitaka Firebirds.
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