A video showing hundreds of Firebird X guitars being destroyed popped up online, and now Gibson has explained its origins

Best of 2019: Recently, a mysterious video documenting hundreds of Gibson Firebird X guitars being lined up and run over by a heavy construction vehicle popped up online. The guitar community began questioning the clip’s origins, as well as the reasoning behind the destruction, and now Gibson has released a statement explaining the action, stating that the guitars in question were an “isolated batch of Firebird X models built in 2009-2011 which were unsalvageable and damaged with unsafe components."

The company continued, "This isolated group of Firebird X models were unable to be donated for any purpose and were destroyed accordingly.”

As has since been revealed, the video in question was shot and posted by a former Gibson employee, BJ Wilkes, who backed the company’s explanation in an interview with the Guitalogist, saying that the incident took place following the ouster of former Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. “They literally could not sell these guitars and they were on the books,” Wilkes said, adding that “investors were all trying to clean up the mess before the end of the fiscal year.”

Indeed, the Firebird X, which featured all manner of bizarre electronics, including robot tuners and Bluetooth accessories, was one of the company’s missteps under Juszkiewicz. Wilkes calls it a “horrible guitar with too much technology all based on Windows 98 or something.”

The Firebirds in the video were unable to be repurposed. “There was just so much stuff in so many different places, the wood was pretty unusable,” Wilkes says.

Since then, the new Gibson regime under CEO James “JC” Curleigh has re-affirmed the company’s commitment to giving back, helping under-served music education programs, empowering music culture and encouraging the creation of music” with the Gibson Foundation, which works directly with strategic partner affiliations to fund and deliver direct support to music development programs

Presently, Gibson has committed to giving a guitar a day away over the next 1,000 days. 

You can donate to the Gibson Foundation here.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.