“The Firebird V is closing in on Gibson’s own price points… however, there’s nothing we don’t love about these guitars”: Epiphone Inspired By Gibson 1963 Firebird I & V review

Two of Gibson’s most controversial designs, reimagined and rebranded with Epiphone’s moniker. Do they promise the ‘Cream’ of the crop or a ‘Winter’ of discontent?

Epiphone Inspired By Gibson 1963 Firebird I
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Guitar World Verdict

Aside from the pricing, there’s nothing we don’t love about these guitars. They look fabulous, play really nicely right out of their huge leather-look black cases, and sound phenomenal. Were we to play one live, though, we’d definitely fit strap locks and use the shoulder-mounted button to aid balance.


  • +

    Fabulous-looking guitars, decades ahead of their time. Brilliant tones, with the V particularly versatile.

  • +

    Firebird I is simplicity defined.

  • +

    Firebird V is better balanced of the pair.

  • +

    Great to play.


  • -

    Firebird I can be a bit neck heavy.

  • -

    You’ll need strap locks and a very large boot/trunk.

  • -

    They’re on the pricey side.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

This reviewer recalls hearing Cream’s live version of the blues classic Sitting On Top Of The World on the band’s Goodbye album very well. Clapton spits out reams of notes with a huge distorted tone that it turns out was his 1964 sunburst Gibson Firebird I. 

Just as memorable was first catching the infectious swagger of Johnny Winter’s Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo, most likely played on Johnny’s own 1964 Firebird, this time a white model V.

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Neville Marten

In the late '70s and early '80s Neville worked for Selmer/Norlin as one of Gibson's UK guitar repairers, before joining CBS/Fender in the same role. He then moved to the fledgling Guitarist magazine as staff writer, rising to editor in 1986. He remained editor for 14 years before launching and editing Guitar Techniques magazine. Although now semi-retired he still works for both magazines. Neville has been a member of Marty Wilde's 'Wildcats' since 1983, and recorded his own album, The Blues Headlines, in 2019.