Tonewoods (back, sides and top) The body design of the Hummingbird is known as a square shoulder dreadnought. The top is made from AAA-grade Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are constructed from mahogany, giving the Hummingbird a perfectly balanced midrange tone, with unbiased rich lows and clear treble registers. Selecting the right wood, and the formula to dry it out, are two of the most central procedures to Gibson’s guitar-building process. Beginning with its first catalog in 1903, Gibson has assured its customers that every guitar would be built using woods with “the most durable, elastic, and sonorous qualities,” and today’s guitars from Gibson Acoustic are no different.
L.R. Baggs Element Active Acoustic Pickup System
Gibson Acoustic’s Hummingbird comes equipped with the popular Element Active Acoustic Pickup System from L.R. Baggs, which features a low-profile undersaddle element—or transducer—that’s proven more stable and durable than many standard ribbon-type pickups. Combined with an onboard preamp with an unobtrusive and volume control mounted just inside the soundhole, the Element delivers performance not previously attainable from an undersaddle pickup. Its sleek and effective design removes unnecessary internal components to enhance the coupling between the pickup and the guitar, and improve the sensitivity of the transducer for a robust, lively, and natural acoustic sound with excellent dynamics and delicate high end. The Element works with a standard 9V battery, which is housed inside the guitar in L.R. Bagg’s new “Battery Bagg.”
Every acoustic guitar made by Gibson features hand-scalloped, radiused top bracing inside the body, a feature normally found only in limited run, hand-made guitars. By scalloping each brace by hand, the natural sound of the acoustic is focused more toward the center of the body, enhancing the instrument’s sound projection. Inside the body of the Hummingbird, single “X” bracing similar to the pattern in vintage Gibson J-30s delivers a balanced midrange tone, with unbiased lows and rich, clear highs, producing a warm tone that has been a favorite among artists and players alike since the Hummingbird’s introduction in 1960.
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson acoustic guitar — including the Hummingbird — is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. Unlike the polyurethane finishes used by many guitar manufacturers, a nitrocellulose lacquer finish is porous when cured, allowing the wood to naturally “breathe” and mature. Microscopically thin, the finish on a Gibson acoustic guitar first requires seven main coats of nitrocellulose lacquer. After drying overnight, the initial seven coats are then level sanded and given two additional coats. Left to dry for five additional days, the finish is then wet sanded and buffed to its final glass-like sheen. The time-consuming nature of applying a nitro finish has been employed ever since the first Gibson guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. It’s also a softer finish, making it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish.