Guitar Comparison: Gibson Hummingbird versus Epiphone Hummingbird Artist

The Gibson Hummingbird has always been my dream guitar. It had that rock and roll pedigree, mellow mahogany tone, and just enough flamboyance to make it a legendary instrument. There’s just one catch, it’s really expensive.

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I fell in love with the Gibson back in my teens, and more than 20 years later, I finally have one (used, of course, I’m not crazy). However, needing another guitar for boating and camping, I was very curious as to the real differences between the Gibson and the very affordable Epiphone Hummingbird Artists. In fact, I found a blueburst B-stock Epiphone Hummingbird Artist for only $169.

Aside from the headstock you’d think the Epiphone would be a spitting image of the Gibson, but it’s definitely not. First off, their bodies, while both mahogany, are not quite the same size. The Gibson is slightly wider and deeper than the Epiphone with a more pronounced curve to the back.

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Both guitars have a 24.75″ scale neck, which is probably my favorite aspect of the guitar. It really helps me reach some of those chords with wide spreads. While the Gibson neck does feel more refined, when switching back and forth between the two guitars, you essentially feel like you’re playing the same instrument.

The Epiphone has a synthetic bone nut and a truss rod cover with three screws while the Gibson has a real bone nut and a truss rod cover with only two screws.

The rosewood bridges are similar, but once again, the Epiphone has a synthetic saddle while the Gibson has a real bone saddle. However, the Gibson still has cheap plastic pegs to hold in the strings. Being outside of the saddle, I know they don’t affect tone, but for the price, you’d think Gibson would spend $1 for real bone there as well.

There’s a HUGE difference in the tuners. My Hummingbird has sealed grover tuners, and the newer Gibson models have sealed Gotoh tuners. Epiphone doesn’t even mention the brand of their cheapo tuners in any of their collateral. They’re pretty terrible. I had some serious trouble keeping the Epiphone in tune for the first few weeks I owned it, although it has gotten better. With the Gibson, it’s usually in tune when I open the case, and it never goes out. With the Epiphone, I have to make sure and tune it before I start playing, and I might need to readjust it once or twice throughout the course of a three-hour jam. (This is about on par with every sub-$400 guitar I’ve ever owned.)

Of course, the real signature of a guitar is it’s tone, so I made a short video comparing the Gibson Hummingbird to the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro. Both guitars have Elixir Custom Light strings, and the audio was recorded on a Zoom H2n set to 4 channel mode. If you’re reading/watching this on a phone or laptop, you’ll probably have to plug in some headphones to really hear the difference.

So there you have it, a detailed look at the differences between a Gibson Hummingbird and an Epiphone Hummingbird Artist.

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Padded lifelines for a fraction of the corporate price

A few months ago Fred had it in his mind that we needed padded lifelines to spruce up the cockpit and lean back against while sailing.

Well we headed out to West Marine and found a package of lifeline pads for 62.99.

We got these “premium” lifeline cushions home to discover that the construction was so very basic we should have just made them ourselves. They were literally a piece of PVC wrapped in plumbing insulation — the stuff you put on your pipes, so they don’t freeze — with a sleeve of sunbrella.

We paid $65 for that?!!!

This month I got a bee in my bonnet to do some sewing, so I decided to make my own lifeline covers and see just how easy it was.

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After sewing the sleeves we just needed to get some PVC pipe, and some padding, and it all slid right together.

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Here’s a shot of the pads on Gimme Shelter. The top line has the West Marine pad, and the bottom line is showcasing the one I sewed myself.  The West Marine version comes only in the 57″ length and only in blue.

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For those of you without any sewing skills, you’re in luck. This week I’ve decided to launch the Gimme Shelter Etsy Store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SVgimmeshelter.

I would be happy to sew and assemble a custom pair of lifeline pads for you in whatever length you order and in your choice of sunbrella colors for half the price of what West Marine charges.

So if anyone would like to get some lifeline covers made for their boat, feel free to order!

I’ll slowly be adding more useful and interesting nautical products to the store as I conduct this Etsy experiment in entrepreneurship, so bookmark my new site and stop by often!