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Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
D'Angelico Excel 59
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Playability
77
Sound
69
Build
64
Value
70
Score
70
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Playability
72
Sound
71
Build
69
Value
66
Score
71
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Side to side spec comparison >

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs D'Angelico Excel 59

Reasons to Get
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I over D'Angelico Excel 59

Release Year
2024 vs 2021
From a more recent year
Neck Joint
Neck-Through vs Set
Stronger neck and easier access to upper frets
Body Type
Solid Body vs Hollowbody
Feedback free
Pickups
H vs P90P90
Hum-free with more right hand freedom and sustain
Nut Width
1.693'' (43mm) vs 1.688'' (42.9mm)
Less likely to mute strings by accident and more space for fingerstyle
Scale Length
24.75'' (628.7mm) vs 25'' (635mm)
Easier bending, shorter fret separation and warmer natural tone
Fretboard Radius
12'' (304.8mm) vs 16'' (406.4mm)
Easier to play chords without muting strings
Value Score
70 vs 66
Better price/quality relationship

Reasons to Get
D'Angelico Excel 59 over Epiphone 1963 Firebird I

Country of Manufacturing
South Korea vs China
Built with higher quality standards
Body Type
Hollowbody vs Solid Body
Warm tone, lighter and acoustic sound
Switch Positions
3 vs 0
More tone options
Pickups
P90P90 vs H
Vintage tone with decent versatility
Nut Width
1.688'' (42.9mm) vs 1.693'' (43mm)
Favors small hands, easier bar chords and other shapes
Strap Lock
Yes vs None
Protects your guitar from dropping by locking the strap
Scale Length
25'' (635mm) vs 24.75'' (628.7mm)
Lower action and brighter natural tone
Fretboard Radius
16'' (406.4mm) vs 12'' (304.8mm)
Flatter fretboard makes it easier to play single notes and bend

Other Key Differences
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs D'Angelico Excel 59

Bridge Pickup
Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnets vs Seymour Duncan D'Angelico Great Dane P-90 Bridge
Different Bridge Pickup
Body Wood
Other vs Flame Maple
Different Body Wood
Neck Wood
Mahogany vs Maple
Different Neck Wood
Fretboard Wood
Laurel vs Ebony
Different Fretboard Wood
Headstock
6 vs 3-3
Different Headstock

Shared Features
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs D'Angelico Excel 59

Nut Material
Ivory Tusq
Same Nut Material
Strings
6
Same playing style
Volume Knobs
1
Same volume control
Tone Knobs
1
Same tone control
Number of Frets
22
Same maximum octave
Paint Finish
Poly
Resistant paint that ages well
Bridge
Fixed
Good sustain and needs no set-up
Pickups Power
Passive
Cleaner sound and no battery needed
Neck Profile Type
C
Comfortable neck that works for most people
Type of Frets
Medium Jumbo
You'll feel the fretboard when pressing down the strings

Common Strengths

  • High-Quality Nut
  • Top Pickup Brand
  • Expensive Wood

Common Weaknesses

  • Pickup Alter Switch/Knob
  • Locking Tuners
  • Stays in Tune (Evertune)
  • High-Quality Frets
  • Compound Radius Fretboard
  • Luminescent Sidedots
  • 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • Active/Passive Preamp

Price History Comparison

SET PRICE ALERT
SET PRICE ALERT

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Which One is Better for Beginners?

Both meet 4 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players. If you're looking for your first guitar to learn how to play, you can't go wrong with either of them.

New Player Friendliness

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

New Player Friendliness

D'Angelico Excel 59
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

Nevertheless, when it comes to choosing an instrument, you should pick the one more compatible with your personal style. Still, below we'll try you to give you our results as objectively as it's possible to help you decide.

Sound Quality Comparison

The wood used in an electric guitar or bass is not as important to determine the final tone. However, some people prefer specific wood types, so we'll take a look at those first. Then, we'll take a look at the electronics to determine the versatility and sound quality of each instrument.

Woods Used in the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I

Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany
Laurel wood pattern used for guitar building
Laurel

Mahogany is a fairly rare wood nowadays. It's used mostly for bodies due to its relatively lightweight. Gibson popularized it with their Les Paul guitars during their golden years, so this wood has a lot of good reputation behind it. The most expensive type comes from South America and it's still used by Gibson even today. Find out more about Mahogany.

There are many types of Laurel, but East Indian is the most common for guitar building. Its color can vary from dark to light brown with black lines. Many people find its tonality similar to Rosewood, which favors the warmer frequencies. Find out more about Laurel.

Woods Used in the D'Angelico Excel 59

Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple
Ebony wood pattern used for guitar building
Ebony
Flame Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Flame Maple

Maple is one of the most popular necks for good reasons. It is a strong wood that is relatively cheap to make and looks beautiful. The highest quality maple is the hardest that comes from North America. Find out more about Maple.

Ebony is a high-end wood, so it is not cheap. It's only used for fretboards because it's also very heavy. It does an excellent job as a durable material while looking elegant. Find out more about Ebony.

This wood has beautiful patterns only found in specific types of maple.

Winner: D'Angelico Excel 59.

Pickup Configuration

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has an H configuration while the D'Angelico Excel 59 has P90P90 pickups.

A single H pickup gives you the advantage of having a little longer sustain (all other things being equal) because there will be less magnetic fields from other pickups affecting the strings' vibration. However, they also give you the least versatility because you won't have other pickups at different distances from the bridge to create different tones. A single humbucking pickup is used for noiseless high output, which is used mainly for Hard Rock genres.

On the other hand, P90P90 gives you two P90s for a crunchy vintage tone. The tone sits somewhere in the middle between typical single-coils and humbuckers. They also produce less hum than single-coils, but they don't cancel it completely like humbuckers.

Pickups Quality

Both come with very good pickups from at least one of the specialized brands in the market. With pickups like these, you probably won't need an upgrade anytime soon.

However, the D'Angelico Excel 59 has a slight sound quality advantage when taking into account other factors like the type of pickups, magnet, position, etc.

Both use Passive pickups. This is what's used for most music genres. They have a regular output and will serve you for both high-gain and clean tones. The alternative (Active pickups) offer a higher output that is mostly used for heavy music.

Winner: D'Angelico Excel 59.

Versatility Comparison

Some instruments offer you more ways to explore your creativity than others. Below you'll find how both compare when it comes to versatility.

Switch Options

The D'Angelico Excel 59 gives you 3 switch options while the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I gives you 0. This means that the D'Angelico Excel 59 gives you more options to find the right pickup combination for the type of sound you want to achieve

Neither of them come with some kind of coil split or pickup mod option. This makes both lacking in terms of versatility.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I doesn't come with pickup switching options.

D'Angelico Excel 59 pickups switch and push knobs diagram
D'Angelico Excel 59's switch options

When evaluating versatility, we also take into consideration bridge and neck joint type, number of frets, switch options, amount of pickups and more.

Winner: D'Angelico Excel 59.

Final Sound Quality Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Pickups 90
Sustain 75
Versatility 39
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 69
D'Angelico Excel 59
Pickups 100
Sustain 65
Versatility 49
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 71

Build Quality Comparison

When it comes to build quality, we like to take into account everything used to build the instrument. This includes materials, hardware and the quality control expected depending on the country where it was built. Let's see how the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I compares to the D'Angelico Excel 59.

Country of Origin

The manufacturing country can tell a lot about the build quality of an instrument. The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I is built in China while the D'Angelico Excel 59 is made in South Korea.

China has a bad reputation when it comes to building quality. However, times have changed and now respectable brands use China's cheap labor to build good instruments for a lower price. Don't discount a guitar only because it was built in China, but also expect more quality from countries like Korea.

South Korea was for many years the number one choice for mass-producing semi-premium guitars. They can build excellent guitars for a cheap price. Now, it's less common to find Korean guitars because Indonesia has proved capable of building guitars just as well, but likely for cheaper.

Winner: D'Angelico Excel 59

Nut Material

If you want your guitar to stay in tune and sound good, you need a well cut nut. Nut quality can be inconsistent even when comparing two copies of the same model. The best way to make sure you're nut will be well done is by getting a nut made by an expert company like TUSQ or Micarta.

In this case, both have Ivory Tusq nuts. Ivory used to be considered the best material for guitar nuts due to its beauty, durability, and the rich harmonics and sustain you could get from a guitar with it. However, the way to obtain it is simply unethical. Enter TUSQ ivory nuts, which are made synthetically to imitate ivory. Technically, it's better than ivory because it is consistent piece-to-piece, while natural materials can vary a lot, even if they're made from the same.

Fret Material

Most fret wire is made of nickel silver. This material eventually wears down after a lot of use and most instruments end up needing a complete fret replacement. However, some expensive models come with stainless steel frets. This is what you should aim for if you can afford it.

Unfortunately, none of them come with stainless steel frets.

Winner: Tie.

Bridge

The perfect bridge for you will depend on your playstyle because they all have advantages and disadvantages. However, some bridges are more expensive—like Floyd Roses and Evertunes—and thus add more value to a guitar.

Both come with a similar bridge: Fixed. It's a simple bridge that is very beginner-friendly since it doesn't require any set-up. You can swap strings easily. It might also give more sustain since it doesn't have complex moving parts that make the strings lose vibration. However, it doesn't have the same versatility as a tremolo bridge.

Since we need to be objective, the most expensive type of bridge will be the winner of this section. In the end, this doesn't matter if you're not going to use the bridge for its original purpose, so choose the bridge that fits your playing style better.

Winner: Tie.

Tuners

Both come with regular tuners. The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's are Kluson "Banjo-style" Planetary while the D'Angelico Excel 59's are Grover 150 Imperial

Winner: Tie.

Neck Joint

Contrary to popular belief, the difference in sustain and tone that some neck joints give to a guitar is simply unperceivable—if they're all well built. However, some of them do have advantages over the others.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has a Neck-Through neck joint. This neck is a lot more resistant and lets builders give the neck joint a more comfortable shape for soloing at the upper frets. The disadvantage is that they're more expensive and that if you damage your neck, you can't simply replace it like with bolt-on necks.

On the other hand, the D'Angelico Excel 59 comes with Set neck joint. This neck is tightly glued to the body. They give you the least versatility because you can't swap them for a neck that fits your hand better if you want to, unlike bolt-on necks. Some people think this gives more resonance and sustain, but there's no real difference if the bolt-on joint is well built.

Winner: Epiphone 1963 Firebird I.

Here is the list of features that were considered when choosing the winner in the Features subcategory:

Strengths & Weaknesses
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
  • Expensive Wood
  • Ivory Tusq Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Neck-Through Build
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in China
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock
Strengths & Weaknesses
D'Angelico Excel 59
  • Expensive Wood
  • Ivory Tusq Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Strap Lock
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in South Korea
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio

Final Build Quality Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Quality of materials 66
Features 60
Quality Control 65
Build Quality 64
D'Angelico Excel 59
Quality of materials 66
Features 60
Quality Control 80
Build Quality 69

Playability Comparison

Let's now compare their playability. Bear in mind that the instrument will feel different depending on your hand size and play style. That's why you should always test before buying. But if you can't or want a second opinion on it, we can still take a look at each of the important measurements of the instrument for you. This way, we can predict how easy a guitar might be to play, or how different it will feel compared to the other.

Remember that, even though the difference might seem small, every inch counts when it comes to feeling of the instrument in your hands. Any variation can completely change how comfortable a guitar feels in your hands.

Nut Width

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Nut Width
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Nut Width
D'Angelico Excel 59 Nut Width
D'Angelico Excel 59 Nut Width

The nut width will affect the separation between strings at the nut. In this comparison, the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has the wider nut with 43mm (1.693'') vs 42.9mm (1.688''). This is a 0.1mm (0.0050000000000001'') difference

This means that it will be more difficult to do bar chords on the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I, especially closer to the nut. However, it's also easier to play without muting strings accidently. This favors people with big hands.

Scale Length

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Scale Length
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Scale Length
D'Angelico Excel 59's Scale Length
D'Angelico Excel 59's Scale Length

The scale length is one of the things that influences playability the most. This is the distance between the nut and the bridge and will affect everything from low action allowance, difficulty to perform bends, fret separation, and even tone.

The D'Angelico Excel 59 has the longest scale: 25". The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I is only 24.75" long. This is a 0.25'' (6.4mm) scale length difference.

This longer scale means that the strings need more tension to get in tune. This is good if you want to avoid fret buzz, which can happen when the strings are too loose and touch the frets while vibrating. This is especially important when playing in lower tunings. This will also let you reduce the gap between fretboard and strings (low action) to make them easier to press down. However, this higher tension will also make it harder to perform bends and vibratos as the strings will feel stiffer.

This also means that the frets have a longer separation between each other, so this will make it harder for people with smaller hands when playing some chord positions.

Another characteristic of a longer scale is that it makes the guitar sound 'snappier' or brighter. This is due to the extra separation between harmonics and overtones produced by the tension. This influences tone more than any other factor (except the pickups).

Lastly, remember that you can also affect the tension of the strings by changing your string gauge. You can use a thicker gauge for more tension and a lighter one for less tension.

Neck Profile

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Neck Profile
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's neck profile
D'Angelico Excel 59 Neck Profile
D'Angelico Excel 59's neck profile

No single neck shape is better than others. However, most people tend to prefer a thinner necks because it doesn't get in their way when playing fast and most hand sizes can adapt to it pretty well. However, some people still prefer thicker necks for a better grip, especially if they have big hands.

Both the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I and the D'Angelico Excel 59 have a C-shaped neck. This is what you'll find in most modern guitars. Most people feel like the thickness of a C neck is simply the less intrusive one for playing fast, while at the same time allowing you to grab the neck easily for resting if you want to.

Fretboard Radius

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Fingerboard Radius
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Fingerboard radius
D'Angelico Excel 59 Fingerboard Radius
D'Angelico Excel 59's Fingerboard radius

Most guitar fretboards are not flat; they usually have a curve or arc across their width. A curved fretboard will make it easier to perform chords without muting strings, while a flatter one will make it easier to play single notes, which is good for bending and soloing in general. The best fretboards have a compound radius that varies across the fingerboard, but they're not common since they take a lot more work to build.

In this case, the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's fingerboard radius is smaller, which means it's more curved than the D'Angelico Excel 59's. This extra arc will make playing chords easier in this model. You won't be as likely to mute the strings, especially if you have big hands. However, playing single notes and bending will be easier on the D'Angelico Excel 59.

Still, both tend to favor soloing over chords, so if you're looking for a guitar for playing rhythm, you might want something else with a radius closer to a Stratocaster's 9.5''.

Hand Size Comfortability

Everyone has a different hand size, and that's why it's recommended to try a guitar before buying, even if others tell you that it's comfortable to play. However, we can know whether a guitar favors small or large hands just by knowing its exact measurements.

After taking into account the scale length, nut width, neck profile and fretboard radius, we can conclude that both in this comparison favor small hands .

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I:
Big Hands
Small Hands
D'Angelico Excel 59:
Big Hands
Small Hands

Fret Size

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I and D'Angelico Excel 59 Frets Size
Both have a similar Medium Jumbo fret size

Both have a Medium Jumbo fret size. These are slightly shorter than full Jumbo frets, so you'll still feel the fretboard when pressing down the strings. However, they interfere less with your fretting hand than medium-size frets. This is a good size if you like easy-to-press frets, but would still like to feel a bit of the fretboard when playing.

Final Playability Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Bending & Vibrato Ease 85
Chord Playability 65
Solo Playability 80
Playability 77
D'Angelico Excel 59
Bending & Vibrato Ease 80
Chord Playability 65
Solo Playability 70
Playability 72

Specs Side-by-Side

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs D'Angelico Excel 59
General Epiphone 1963 Firebird I D'Angelico Excel 59
Brand: Epiphone D'Angelico
Year: 2024 2021
Configuration: H P90P90
Strings: 6 6
Made in: China South Korea
Series: 1963 Firebird I Excel
Colors: Green, Pink, Silver Natural
Left-Handed Version: No No
Body
Type: Solid Body Hollowbody
Body Material: 9-ply Mahogany/Walnut Neck-Through Laminated Flame Maple
Bridge: Wraparound Lightning Bar Gold Tune-O-Matic
Neck
Neck Joint: Neck-Through Set
Tuners: Kluson "Banjo-style" Planetary Grover 150 Imperial
Fretboard: Indian Laurel Ebony
Neck Material: Mahogany Maple
Decoration: Mother of Pearl dot Mother of Pearl/Abalone Split-Block
Scale Size: 24.75" 25"
Shape: 1963 Firebird C-Shape
Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo Nickel Silver 22 Medium Jumbo Nickel Silver
Fretboard Radius: 12" 16"
Nut: Ivory Tusq Ivory Tusq
Nut Width: 43mm (1.693'') 42.9mm (1.688'')
Electronics
Bridge Pickup: Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnets (Humbucker / Passive) Seymour Duncan D'Angelico Great Dane P-90 Bridge (Single Coil / Passive)
Middle Pickup:
Neck Pickup: Seymour Duncan D'Angelico Great Dane P-90 Neck (Single Coil / Passive)
Switch: 0 Way 3 Way
Knobs: Bell Dome
Pickup Mods: None None
Volume Controls: 1 1
Tone Controls: 1 1