The Money Shot: Brian Ray’s 1963 Gibson ‘Hummingdove’

When is a Hummingbird not a Hummingbird?

Introduced in 1960, the Hummingbird was Gibson’s first square-shouldered dreadnought and it featured a spruce top with a cherry sunburst finish, mahogany back and sides, and that iconic engraved pickguard design. In 1962-3 a limited number of Hummingbirds were produced with maple backs and sides, which brought the instrument’s specifications closer to those of the Gibson Dove, earning these rare ’birds the nickname ‘Hummingdove’.

This 1963 example belongs to Paul McCartney/Etta James guitarist Brian Ray and it features a still-vibrant sunburst top and beautiful figuring on the cherry-finished back and sides.

“I think 1963 might be my favourite year for Gibson,” says Brian. “I like the ceramic saddle they used for the bridge. It sounds rock ’n’ roll to me. It sounds like the Stones and The Beatles.

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“It just depends what you are looking for out of your guitar. I’m not a Nashville cat, I like these as tools to make rock ’n’ roll records. I’m looking for that thing we all remember from those Beatles records. It almost sounds like a cowbell is coming through the speakers, or a hi-hat, but it’s the J-160E with absolutely no sustain, just chunkin’ away like crazy.

“But this has a huge sound, a lovely sound, not at all choked like a J-160E. Put it in front of a large-diaphragm mic and it sounds giant. I love it to bits, it’s a very special guitar.”

Follow Brian on Instagram @brianrayguitar and visit Guitar.com to see more of his collection.

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