Take Advantage of Legendary Design and Construction With the Gibson Hummingbird

In continuous production since 1960, the Gibson Hummingbird has won accolades as a versatile guitar with a rich sound. In either pure acoustic or electronic pickup versions, the Gibson Hummingbird has been the guitar of choice for artists as different as Keith Richards and Gillian Welch. Introduced as Gibson’s first square-shouldered dreadnought, the Gibson Hummingbird features mahogany back and sides and fingerboard. 

What versions of Gibson Hummingbird are there? 

Although some Gibson Hummingbird specs such as the 24.75-inch scale are consistent, there are several variations. Some are pure acoustic versions while others have a discretely placed L R Baggs pickup system. The Gibson Hummingbird Pro and Artist versions come as cutaway models. Standard model Gibson Hummingbird specs call for mahogany in the back and sides, but some 1962 and 1963 models substituted maple. Recent custom versions have used koa wood in place of mahogany on the back and sides, or Adirondack red spruce in place of Sitka on the top. The Gibson Hummingbird Sweetwater is a distinctive solid black version. 

Compareing the Gibson Hummingbird and the Dove 

While both guitars have tops made of Sitka spruce, the back and sides of a Hummingbird are made from mahogany, while the Dove back and sides are made from maple. The Sitka spruce top comes in finishes ranging from natural to the ebony-colored Gibson Hummingbird Sweetwater, although the most common are sunburst finishes in wood tones like rosewood, walnut, and cherry. The Hummingbird name comes from the distinctive honeysuckle-and-hummingbird ornamentation on its pickguard. The Gibson Dove has a 25.5-inch scale, ¾ inch longer than the Hummingbird. These two differences make for a ‘brighter’ and louder tone, while the tone of a Gibson Hummingbird vs Dove is usually described as deeper and richer. Cosmetically, the greatest visible difference of a Gibson Hummingbird vs Dove is the iconic pickguard decoration - instead of the hummingbird and flower motif, the Dove has a perched dove with two more doves on the bridge. 

How do Gibson Hummingbird vintage and contemporary guitars differ? 

Gibson Hummingbird vintage guitars produced before 1970 have an adjustable saddle. Models made before 1963 have larger pickguards, and in 1965, the nut width was shortened, although this was later returned to 1.725 inches. In 1969, the interior bracing became bulkier, but Gibson changed this to “double-x” bracing in 1971 and later to the contemporary ‘single-x’ bracing. Gibson Hummingbird vintage models are so highly regarded that Gibson still produces a ‘vintage’ model designed to emulate the early versions as closely as possible, but with modern features like a better finish process and fixed saddles.