Released in 1955 as a collaboration between the two prominent jazz guitarists Billy Byrd and Hank Garland, the Byrdland was Gibson’s earliest 'thinline' ES instrument and was based upon the L-5CES. Four prototypes were produced in April 1955 (two Natural, two Sunburst): one each for Byrd (Natural) and Garland (Sunburst), and two for Gibson's own promotional purposes. Ledger books show these were labelled as 'special thin models' of the L-5CES. Upon release the Byrdland had an unusual spec suited to Byrd and Garland’s needs; the guitar featured a carved spruce top, curly Maple rims and back with a venetian cutaway, a three piece curly Maple 23 1/2" short scale neck with Ebony fingerboard, pearl block inlays and a body joint at the 14th fret. Initially released in Sunburst and Natural the guitar would go through spec changes over the years either through innovation or elements of design continuity; the most significant change being the replacement of the P90 pickups by Gibson’s new Humbuckers by 1959 and in mid-June 1961 the cutaway changing from Venetian to Florentine. The guitar would remain in production for over six decades before being discontinued by Gibson only recently.
This fantastic example from 1990 features a 50’s spec Venetian cutaway in dark Vintage Sunburst finish. It features all of the high-end appointments this deluxe artist-model guitar is known for including a solid, carved, book-matched Spruce top, solid and highly figured Maple back and sides, a three-piece neck constructed from figured Maple with a solid Ebony fingerboard punctuated with L-5 style block mother-of-pearl fingerboard inlays and an ornate flowerpot peghead inlay. Appointments include gold hardware throughout including the Byrdland proprietary loop style trapeze tailpiece with engraved crossbar, compensated gold tune-o-matic bridge with inlaid Ebony foot and gold covers on the original Gibson 490T and 490R pickups. The body has bound F-holes with 7-ply top binding, a triple bound back and a bound fingerboard and neck. Hardware is rounded out with a bound 5-ply tortoise pickguard, gold bonnet knobs and three-way control switch.
The guitar is in excellent condition and plays very well currently set up with 12 gauge flatwound strings. Complete with the original warranty card and original Gibson hard case.