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Gibson Byrdland

guitarmandp

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Apr 26, 2004
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927
This is the most beautiful guitar Gibson makes IMO.

Anyways I know Ted Nugent uses it.

They are also very thin.

Do they have more of a 335 sound or more a Gibson L-5 sound?

Is it semi-hollow or a hollow?
 

j45

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Jun 14, 2002
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I've had several Byrdlands and ES-350Ts. Ted Nugent's tone is not a good indicator of what a Byrdland is all about. They have neither a 335 or L-5 sound and really not close to either IMO. I once had an '59 L-5CT which you would think would be more similar but not so either. Both Byrdland's and 350's can sound great, though. I've had exceptionally gound sounding of each. They are both fully hollow and sometimes a bit muted sounding and relatively unresponsive compared to L-5's. Even though the Byrdland has a carved top and the 350 a laminate, I've had better luck with 350T's in the tone department. I think the main problem with the guitars lies in the relative placement of the pickups on the harmonics of the scale length. Funny things happen if you move a pickup in any guitar away from the typical harmonic spot in the scale you normally hear. The pickups are very close together which limits the tonal variation between the two. The short scale also makes string tension a bit odd compared to other models. They all have very thin nut widths around 1 1/2" but the full C shape of the 50's models help. If you go with the guitar and do what it wants to do you are fine with one of these. You really ave to play them like they want to be played. You can't expect to play one like you would a Les Paul or 335. It makes you alter your style big time, at least it does me. Both models are a bit more prone than other models to the top sinking at the bridge and the neck ski sloping at the raised section of the fingerboard. They are gorgeous instruments and that's why I've always loved them. If you are willing to make a few concessions in your playing style they can be wonderful guitars. I would try to play one before you run out and buy. They can be quite a shock at first if you are strictly used to the standard sized Gibsons.
 

j45

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Jun 14, 2002
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A little more towards jazz IMO. I think the ES-335,345,355, and the P-90 ES-330's are much better for blues if that is the main application. I did a sound clip of some pretty heavily overdriven blues using an ES-350 which is basically a Byrdland with maple laminate top. They do sound closer to Byrdlands than most other Gibson's so it will give you an idea of what they are capable of sounding like overdriven. Here's the thread:

http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=130409 Further down in the thread in post #25 is the order of each guitar heard in the clip.

The ES-350 sounds surprisingly like a true blues rocker but I will never forget the struggle to coax the notes out and try to play it in the same fashion as the others.
 

sine_wave

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Jan 4, 2007
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738
What style would a Byrdland be most suited for? Blues? Jazz?

Hi guitarmandp. I've always believed that Gibson hollow bodies are fantastic jazz instruments. At least that's the market they were made for. They certainly sound heavenly when played through a clean amp. Distorting a Byrdland or a ES-350 doesn't make much sense to me.
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
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Thread revival just because... Uncle Ted is being extremely NON-sensical here:


Also: 3 different Gibsons onstage.
One of my favorites from over 45 years ago when I was a kid playing Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold . Seen Ted Nugent several times live and the first time in 1979 was pretty awesome !
 

jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
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3,686
I found a Lefty in a Cherry Hill, NJ Guitar Center years ago while traveling, and just out of college. I knew enough that I wanted it, but not enough to evaluate quality for price, so also being poor, I passed. Regrets, I had a few...
 

lgking

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Feb 18, 2010
Messages
49
I too was smitten by the beauty of the Gibson Byrdland, and thought that it would definitely be my be all, end all guitar, if I was ever lucky enough to find one. In 2003 I finally did come across one (a 1966) at Phil's Guitars in South San Francisco (it was Phil's personal guitar, and took me 3 visits to talk him out of it), bought it and brought it back to Bangkok with me.

I tried and I tried to get the blues sounds I was getting out of my Les Paul and 335, but it never was to happen. Besides, every time I took it to a gig and took a break to get some refreshment, I'd invariably see some 'douch-bag' up on stage holding it, drooling on it, and looking it over, which would cause me to go ballistic. Gibson Shipping records for 1966 state that they only produced 45 Byrdland guitars that year (for the world), which made my guitar irreplaceable in my mind.

Sold it in 2013, and later by chance, picked up a 1983 Matsumoku Epiphone Casino, that although is a similar build, is miles ahead in tones and style for me.
 

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lgking

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Feb 18, 2010
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As an added bit of Byrdland musical history, it has been rumored that back in the late 60's Mike Bloomfield was recording the soundtracks for a lot of the Mitchel Bros. porn flicks (in San Francisco), and used a Byrdland exclusively in all those sessions.
 
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wernerg

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Jan 27, 2002
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746
@MikeSlub and others: pardon my ignorance, but would a '61 Byrdland still have PAFs, and if so, would the pole spacing be like "regular" PAFs, or narrow, like an ES350T?
 

jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
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I’m still amazed that Nugent came to favor Byrdlands!

True love exists: aged 12, Nugent saw Detroit guitarist Jim McCarty using a Byrdland onstage at a gig with Billy Lee & The Rivieras, instantly transfixed and forever bonded.

In an August 2006 interview on VH1 Classic, Ted Nugent remarked: "I'm the only guy in rock'n'roll that plays that hollow body jazz guitar and it's because in 1960 I saw Jimmy McCarty creating those big fat full chords like I do on 'Stranglehold'; I learned that from Jimmy McCarty. Remember the name Jimmy McCarty. He is as important as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry and Les Paul...a god on guitar."
 

brandtkronholm

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Dec 3, 2006
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2,411
@MikeSlub and others: pardon my ignorance, but would a '61 Byrdland still have PAFs, and if so, would the pole spacing be like "regular" PAFs, or narrow, like an ES350T?
The "rule" for pickups in Byrdlands and ES350Ts from the early 1960s is "it's all crazy, there is no rule".
Here's a Les Paul Forum link: https://lespaulforum.com/index.php?...liest-confirmed-patent-sticker-guitar.168195/
Both pickups on a 1961 Byrdland *should* have narrow pole spacing - BUT sometimes they can be PAFs or PAT. NOs.
But then, there's always the exception: 1961 ES350t standard-spaced PAT NO humbuckers
 
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RocknRollShakeUp

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Jul 7, 2006
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719
True love exists: aged 12, Nugent saw Detroit guitarist Jim McCarty using a Byrdland onstage at a gig with Billy Lee & The Rivieras, instantly transfixed and forever bonded.

In an August 2006 interview on VH1 Classic, Ted Nugent remarked: "I'm the only guy in rock'n'roll that plays that hollow body jazz guitar and it's because in 1960 I saw Jimmy McCarty creating those big fat full chords like I do on 'Stranglehold'; I learned that from Jimmy McCarty. Remember the name Jimmy McCarty. He is as important as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry and Les Paul...a god on guitar."
That’s wild..well when love bites, it bites!
 
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