From the Elvis Presley era – the sharp cut maple and spruce, all solid wood, carved, slightly slimmer electric archtop guitar, featuring twin gold-plated humbucking pickups.
The Gibson Company sought to commemorate the performances and recording work of two famous players, Billy Byrd and Hank Garland. The former played with Earnest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours, and appeared regularly at the Grand Ole’ Opry with George Morgan and Little Jimmy Dickens, whose first recording on Columbia resulted in several hits. Later he worked with Johnny Horton, Webb Pierce and Leon Russell. Mr. Garland played with Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline. In 1949 Garland, at the age of 19, had a huge hit with Sugarfoot Rag. He worked with Presley from 1957 to ’61 and played on, among many other songs, Little Sister. He later turned his attention to jazz and played with George Shearing and Charlie Parker. Gibson then president Ted McCarty, Billy Byrd and Hank Garland worked together to produce a thin-bodied jazz guitar made from all solid wood, having a carved top and back like an L-5, being the same width as an L-5C but having a scale of only 23.5” nut to saddle.
Casting our minds back to 1955, the first version of this, which we feel is the extremely beautiful, had twin black Alnico V single coil pickups with large rectangular magnets. They hummed. Humbuckers, as has this version, do not hum. No hum good. Gibson never made a lot of Byrdland guitars – in 1957 they shipped 78 of them in sunburst but the year before only 31 and the year before that, just one. People ask: how “thinline” is it? The answer is that on this modern version it’s 2 1/8” in depth at the bottom side. In its original time necks were slim and had a nut width of around 1 10/16th” and a string spacing at the bridge of 1 ¾”. Nowadays the nut width is a fair and balanced 1 11/16th” and the string spacing is 1 15/16th”. This version is equipped with a perfectly gold-plated tune-o-matic tailpiece with gold plated metal saddles. The tailpiece is a good and proper gold-plated triple loop trapeze; the cutaway she is sharp and aware of things going on around it. Its elevated tortoise shell celluloid pickguard has that glorious four-ply, black-white, border plus white binding external. The side bindings are off-crème and they expand in width on both top and back at the cutaway). Its distinguished face is bordered in 6 plies, the headstock and pearl block inlaid ebony fingerboard in four, the back and sides in two-plies. The gold plating on this example is perfect, showing no sign of human contact.
Because both of the artists for whom this guitar was named specialized in complicated voicings, Gibson provided this model (which may well be the only guitar model that has the combined names of two recording artists, although a model called HowTal for Howard Roberts and Tal Farlow, or WesLes for Wes Montgomery and Les Paul would have been nice, it never happened again. Two artists' names were compounded only once in Gibson parlance. This guitar was appointed with a short scale to make complex voicings more attainable. At the risk of being redundant, the headstock overlay is ebony, and inlaid in the manner of a Gibson L-5 – having the postwar script Gibson pearl logo, the large and stately mother of pearl flowerpot and the white bordered black bell-shaped truss rod cover. The 22-fret fingerboard, like so many snowmen, ends in a carat. Four plastic gold high-hat rotary knobs reside in the lower treble bout and the three-way toggle (with its round rubber bumper but sans any “rhythm/treble” legend) sits potentate-like in the upper sharp cutaway bout. Its f-holes, as they say, are single-ply bound; the back of the neck is mostly maple with two vertical dark brown stripes, five-piece and sunburst and the larger maple sections display nice figure.
The Gibson Byrdland is one of the finest hand-made, carved and marveled-over examples of an electric archtop jazz guitar, and this virtually unplayed, unregistered and ‘as new’ condition example – is as clean and factory original as we have ever had the pleasure to offer. That its serial number ends in 001 is not lost on us – it is strong proof that not many of these are made, and because most are hand-crafted for specific customers who special order them – not many are ever discovered available on the market. If the Byrdland is your destination, this would make quite a presentation. WAS $7216 BUT NOW ON SALE FOR: $6185 or, at our Cash Discount Price, $5999. BUT IT IS CURRENTLY "ON HOLD."