Guitarist Alex Skolnick was invited to attend the Gibson event that announced the Firebird X guitar that Gibson promised will revolutionize music. He has written his thoughts on the event and guitar for Guitar Player. Here’s what he had to say after a Gibson employee demoed the guitar:
One of the beauties of the electric guitar as a musical instrument is the pure, organic quality, despite the fact that the sound is amplified. When guitar tone is done well (Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour, Brian May, and Slash being among my personal favorites), our ears are still able to decipher the distinctions of the naked wood through the layers of tonal clothing. In this sense, electric guitar tone is like a fashion statement: ultimately a body (human or guitar), is the core, the solid foundation—”solidbody,” if you will. Any layers, whether sonic or fabric, should serve the purpose of accentuating, not hiding, that which lies underneath. From that demonstration, I got no sense of how the Firebird X—the guitar itself—even sounded underneath its internal labyrinth of technology.
And, here’s his blunt advice for Gibson:
During these trying economic times, instead of developing exorbitant, overpriced, computerized guitars (not to mention tribute models that most potential buyers will never be able to afford, such as the $9,000 Randy Rhoads Tribute Les Paul), what Gibson needs to do is put its energy back into doing what it used to do: create timeless guitars, not futuristic ones, and offer them for prices that, if not low, are at least fair. Instead of flooding the racks of retail stores with watered-down versions of the classic models, such as the current crop of cheapened, hollowed-out Les Pauls mass produced on the assembly line (for the same prices previously designated to the hand-built models), these inferior instruments should be properly labeled and priced as “entry level” or “discount,” not passed off to unsuspecting buyers as the real thing.
It’s interesting to hear the thoughts of someone who attended the event. As a working guitarist, you would think Skolnick would be the type of person a $5,000 guitar like the Firebird X is aimed at. If people like him are not impressed, then who is Gibson’s target customer for this guitar?
Read Skolnick’s article about the event and the guitar here.