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Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar

Updated on July 18, 2013

The Gibson Hummingbird

is an acoustic guitar model/series produced by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.

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."

Epiphone hummingbird
Epiphone hummingbird

History and models

Gibson produced several models of the Hummingbird and it's lower priced brand Epiphone also produced quality budget priced versions of some models.

Vintage models

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, after that, a double X-bracing was applied since 1971.

Since 1970, the saddles were not adjustable any more. The necks are made by laminated 3 piece mahogany.

The fretboard inlays were changed to block ones. It was restored to double parallelogram in 1984.

Modern Classic model

The Hummingbird Modern Classic model is an electric-acoustic model. It has AAA-grade solid Sitka spruce top, while the back and sides are constructed from mahogany, as well as rosewood fretboard with double parallelogram inlays, crown peghead inlay headstock, nickel Grover rotomatic tuners and custom-made hummingbird tortoise-shell pickguard. An L.R.Baggs Element Active pickup system is also installed. Appeared 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 vintage cherryburst finish, which make the guitar look like a 1960 one. It has no electronics.

Icon 60's model

The Icon 60's Hummingbird is a natural finished model with block inlays in the fretboard rather than then the double parallelogram ones. It also has adjustable saddle and an original 60's style hummingbird pickguard, all of these made it look like a 60's vintage model.

Artist 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 (modern sculpted pickguard instead). An L.R.Baggs Element Active pickup system is also installed. Appeared in washed heritage cherry finish.

Pro model

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. Appeared in 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. Appeared in antique natural finish.

Sheryl Crow model

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 natural finish and a special pickguard, nickel Gotoh white oval button tuners and other features almost all the same as the Modern Classic model.

Southern Jumbo/Country Western (square-shoulder dreadnought)

The Southern Jumbo model is firstly introduced in 1942 as a round-shoulder dreadnought. In 1963, Gibson changed the design and made it a square-shoulder one. This mahogany-back-and-side guitar has mostly the same specification compared to the Hummingbird, so we categorize it as a Hummingbird variation.

In 1962, the natural top finished Southern Jumbo is named "SJN Country Western", which is also the predecessor of the Sheryl Crow model, according to the Gibson official website[3]. This also implicates that the square-shoulder Southern Jumbo/Country Western is a variation of the Hummingbird.

This model is discontinued in 1977, while the round-shoulder version is reintroduced in 1991, which 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 basically based on the Modern Classic model. In 2008 Gibson also released a very few Hummingbird Modern Classics with a Vintage Sunburst finish, the finish as seen on a J-45 Standard. On the Gibson-label on the inside of this Hummingbird it 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.

Epiphone version

A cheaper version of the Hummingbird is also made by the Epiphone branch of Gibson. It is available in natural, cherryburst and black. It is also made with cheaper woods, but features the same design fretboard inlays, bridge and similar pickguard, but features no real mother of pearl. It also features Grover tuners, rather than the unbranded tuners featured on cheaper Epiphone models.

My personal Epiphone Limited Edition Hummingbird Artist
My personal Epiphone Limited Edition Hummingbird Artist

My Review of the Epiphone Limited Edition Hummingbird Artist Acoustic Guitar

I had been wanting to get a Hummingbird acoustic guitar for a while. The Gibson model still being out of my budget I started researching the Epiphone models and enjoyed the look of the Hummingbird Artist. I ordered one used from Musiciansfriend.com at a great discount.

I was amazed by the quality and tone, and the looks oh the looks it has an amazing Cherry sunburst color, great binding and feel. Hand scalloped bracing makes this a sturdy guitar made to last even with a budget price tag.

It has some nice low end tone which I like in a guitar for my rock n roll style, but still can get some twang for country music sounds.

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