Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 10
The guitar stands alone especially on thick saturated leads, such as ZZ Top and Santana. Because of the pickups the sound is on par with the best gibsons ever made, a rock monster, with a good amp and nothing else you can acheive the classic Gibson sounds just by plugging in. The treble isn't peircing but if that is what you are looking for you wouldn't buy a Gibson would you? I am playing it through a lee Jackson XLS and using a Zoom 9030 for effects when I need them, but usually am using nothing but the amp. The Guitar ia a great all around guitar. Fantastic for slide, the trebles are good enough for country lead, and through an amp like the XLS with active EQ it's downright good. For blues its easy to fall in love with this guitar and for rock I have played everything and found none better (this guitar is an Ibanez Killer) from Duane Allman's slide work to Pete Carr's searing solo on Bob Segar's main street this is the guitar to do it with.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is perfect for rock, blues and jazz. I have been playing since 1976 and this is my 2nd Firebrand. Currently I use the Firebrand, a Frankenstrat (home made) and a Lee Jackson XLS amp with a Zoom 9030 half space rack effect with a midi foot controller, a DigiTech big red whammy pedal. There is nothing to hate, my favorite feature is the uncovered T top Gibson pickups, which I think are some of the best humbuckers ever made. I have compared it to virtually everything usable in rock by Jackson, Ibanez, Fender and other Gibsons. Although these are fine guitars I prefered the Firebrand (by choice not by price). If you are heavy into the '80s whammy leads then you would probably like something else, but for the pure tone which in my opinion is where its at, you can pay the price of a downpayment on a car and still not improve on the sound.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This is my main axe for gigging, with a Fender I use for special songs demanding a single coil sound. But this a preference not a necessity. The hardware is top notch as with all Gibsons the finish is thin (one reason the firebrand was cheaper than the customs and standards etc) but it holds up resonably well and is not a gloss finish so it is still pretty durable.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I bought the guitar new so I can't speak for the factory setup, but anyone familiar with gibsons will tell you that they are a snap to setup, and very forgiving. The wood is good qualit mahogany finished natural giving great sustain and bass response, the manufacture has no flaws that I can see the controls are original and even at their age (21 years) the are still smooth and noisless, nothing has ever been resoldered that I can tell. The action is good, the neck is smaller and faster than a standard or custom. If you want killer sound on a budget find one of these, the pickups alone are worth more than most ask for the guitar.
Features — 10
My firebrand is a 1983 model from Gibsons Nashville factory (as with all Firebrands), 22 jumbo flat frets on a 5 ply mahogany glue on Gibson neck (typical for LPs and SGs) with ebony fingerboard. the Firebrands were true Les Pauls and SGs (why would Gibson copy their own guitars) and were like the Highway 101 Fenders. The cost was cut by the body having no bindings and natural finishes, the extra routing to put the toggle at the top of a LP was also left out. The tuners are the original tulip keyed Grovers, and the pickups are classic Gibson T tops, if you find a firebrand without the t tops then the pickups have been removed.