1965 Gibson Firebird III Reverse w/ Non Reverse Headstock - ex Anne Geert Bonder
This is an early '65 Gibson Firebird III sunburst from the very rare transition period with a reverse body and non-reverse headstock style! These transitional Birds are sometimes called the "platypus" model.
It was owned and played by an American musician who played in Amsterdam in the early 70's, where he sold it to Anne-Geert Bonder - guitarist and founder of the legendary Dutch Rock/Blues Flavium (Nightlife, Nobody knows you when you're down and out). Anne-Geert used it on several live performances and in the studio recording their 3rd Album "Pluggin'in your Socket" during March, April, May and September 1977 in the Lucassound Studio's in Hilversum (The Netherlands). The guitar even features the cover of the album that was an artist impression of the band by painter/illustrator Simon Drost.
In 1978 - after the complete lower bout wing broke and split off the guitar during a tailpiece modification (WTF?...) - Anne Geert sold it for 1700 Dutch Guilders (EUR770 / USD825) to a then 17 year old Jack Steur, guitarist and founder of Speed Rose and 5Pack. Anne-Geert wanted to buy a Goldtop which was for sale in London, UK (and turned out to be a fake...). Jack played the Bird for years and years on stage and in the studio. He also added the Al DiMeola newspaper, which is still in the case!
In 2015 it moved hands again and we were involved in the sale of the guitar to the legendary "Wisseloord Studios" in Hilversum where it was used for demo's, recordings and live performances for the past 8 years. The sale included the promise to never sell the guitar to anyone else but back to us whenever it would become time to part with it.
And now, after all those years, we are proud to say that she's back home in the collection of Bees In A Jar. We will love it and cherish it. And yes, we will play it. And we will gig it. For years and years to come!
This Bird to me is the epitome of vintage mojo. This guitar has a well loved and worn look to it but that doesn't mean it doesn't rip like a guitar you'd find in a museum... In fact, it's even better because of how loved it is. Just setting the guitar in front of you, you can feel the heavy vintage vibes emanating from the guitar, whispering tales of long nights, lost loves... and good old fashioned Rock 'n Roll!
This is a guitar that begs to be played and once it's in your hands you can tell what a tone monster it is. We plugged it into a dimed Marshall and I felt like the room was going to come down around me. The tone on this thing is meaty and powerful with a throaty mid-range that speaks to you from another world and commands your attention. It's exactly what you expect from a neck-through, all mahogany guitar.
And on top of that it's super cool! This typical Platypus model was made in the early days of 1965 during the transition between what became to be known as the 'reverse' body style and the 'non-reverse' body style. The non-reverse neck gives the guitar a more traditional 6-on-a-side playing feel and better access to the banjo tuners but it still has the reverse body style.
And finally, for the mystery part: The guitar never seemed to have a serial number nor did it have a headstock repair during the time it was in the hands of the above mentioned owners. However if you look carefully you can see the top part of the neck was attached to the middle part of the neck with a "wizard sleeve" construction as Gibson would do in the early days when changing a Firebird neck. Due to the neck-through construction you couldn't simply re-neck the guitar like a Les Paul. And on top of that of the wings split and came off at some point during a tailpiece modification... All finish however glows perfectly under blacklight so if anything happened to that neck, it must have been in the mid-late 60's before Anne-Geert bought it. Maybe it's a late '64 that was broken early '65 and sent back to Gibson for repair. Or it arrived broken at the dealer after first shipment. As was the standard procedure at the time, Gibson took a new, non reversed, neck from the shelf, re-attached it to the broken Bird and sent it back. No new serials stamped as that would disturb the sales ledger.
Anyway. Now it's here and we love it...