1963 Gibson Firebird III - ex Carlos Santana!
Another rare axe that stands proud in our private collection! - NOT FOR SALE
This all original 1963 "First Year" Firebird lll reverse was owned and played by the legendary Carlos Santana!!
Carlos personally signed the pickguard in silver marker pen "Carlos Santana" and included with the guitar are two color photographs of him holding this 1963 Gibson FireBird (just before he signed the pickguard) and a letter of authenticity from the Carlos Santana Management. The guitar was purchased in 2014 by David Brass (Fretted Americana) via Drew Berlin (Drew Berlin's Vintage Guitars) to include into David's private guitar collection where it stayed untill december 2022, when we purchased it.
"May 7th 2005
LETTER OF AUTHENTICITY
This certificate is your assurance that the 1963 Gibson Firebird lll Guitar, serial #146005 was owned, played & signed by Mr. Carlos Santana. The guitar is from Carlos Santana's private collection.
Personal Assistant to Mr. Carlos Santana."
When Santana got this guitar he had it expertly refretted, removed the original Gibson factory studs, bridge and Vibrola tailpiece and replaced them with a later wrapover tailpiece and studs. The guitar currently is back into it's all original condition and setup.
Carlos Santana (1947) is one of the very last guitar heroes of the late-sixties still standing. He started off as Bill Graham’s champion, since that promoter who owned the Fillmore was also a percussion player and was particularly fond of Carlos’ blend of rock, latin music and psychedelic San Francisco influences. Thanks to Graham, Carlos’ band, Santana, got to perform at the Woodstock festival. This legendary concert, back when their first album wasn’t even out, made them instant legends. They were also heavily featured in the Woodstock movie in 1970 with their instrumental Soul Sacrifice. Carlos’ stinging lines are a beautiful mixture of jazz-influenced modal phrases with more straightforward blues licks, and a big hot sound that would only get bigger and warmer through his career as he moved to early Mesa Boogie amplifiers.
After a string of hit singles (“Evil Ways”, “Oye Como Va”, “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen”), the Santana band underwent a number of personnel changes (including future Journey-founder Neal Schon joining on guitar), which resulted in Carlos becoming the only master and commander. He then took his music in a more jazzy direction, collaborating with John McLaughlin and Alice Coltrane.
Finally, he got a late-career megahit with Supernatural in 1999, an album that fused his fluid lines with the voices of guest stars who were very hip at the time of recording. It has sold an astounding 30 million worldwide, has won eight Grammys and has introduced a new generation of faithfuls to Santana’s music.
This incredible guitar is one of the very earliest examples with a two-piece neck and convex heel which blends into the body. It weighs just 3.6Kg and has a nice, fat nut width of 43mm, a wonderful medium-to-thick neck profile. Solid 2-piece center seam (!) mahogany body, 2 piece center seam mahogany neck, and bound rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets and inlaid pearl dot position markers. Headstock with gold-painted "Gibson" logo on black plastic truss-rod cover, Gibson Kluson Banjo-style tuners, 3-layer white/black/white plastic pickguard without the Firebird logo as typical for early '63 Firebirds. Gold bell-knobs with metal inserts. Combination bar bridge/tailpiece with pre-set ridges and factory Gibson short Vibrola tailpiece. All parts are nickel-plated.
Two Patent Number sticker mini PAF Humbuckers with outputs of 6.60k and 6.45k Ohm. The "Patent Number" rectangular black sticker on the neck pickup has partially disintegrated, the one on the bridge pickup has completely disintegrated. 2 x volume and 2 x tone controls, 3-way pickup switch and a black RHYTHM/TREBLE toggle switch ring as only the earliest 1963 versions had. The pots date "137 63 36" (week 36, 1963).
All in all it is a 100% original guitar with untouched solder joints. There is some beautiful finish checking and a few small dents and dings mainly on the edges, but overall this amazing guitar is in exceptionally fine condition. Housed in the original Gibson black hardshell case with orange/yellow plush lining.
And yes, this Bird sounds just about amazing...