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Epiphone 1963 Firebird V
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
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Playability
75
Sound
72
Build
67
Value
66
Score
71
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Playability
67
Sound
74
Build
77
Value
58
Score
73
FIND IT ON:
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Side to side spec comparison >

Epiphone 1963 Firebird V vs Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster

Reasons to Get
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V over Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster

Release Year
2024 vs 2017
From a more recent year
Neck Joint
Neck-Through vs Bolt-On
Stronger neck and easier access to upper frets
Volume Knobs
2 vs 1
More volume control
Tone Knobs
2 vs 1
More tone control
Pickups
HH vs HS
High output without hum
Nut Width
1.693'' (43mm) vs 1.688'' (42.9mm)
Less likely to mute strings by accident and more space for fingerstyle
Bridge
Tremolo vs Bigsby Tremolo
Simple vibratos without too much maintenance
Scale Length
24.75'' (628.7mm) vs 25.5'' (647.7mm)
Easier bending, shorter fret separation and warmer natural tone
Value Score
66 vs 58
Better price/quality relationship

Reasons to Get
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster over Epiphone 1963 Firebird V

Country of Manufacturing
United States vs China
Built with higher quality standards
Pickups
HS vs HH
High output with bright neck cleans
Locking Tuners
Yes vs None
Easier to change strings
Nut Width
1.688'' (42.9mm) vs 1.693'' (43mm)
Favors small hands, easier bar chords and other shapes
Bridge
Bigsby Tremolo vs Tremolo
Intense vibrato with a solid arm
Scale Length
25.5'' (647.7mm) vs 24.75'' (628.7mm)
Lower action and brighter natural tone

Other Key Differences
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V vs Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster

Bridge Pickup
Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnet vs Seymour Duncan STHR-1b
Different Bridge Pickup
Neck Pickup
Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnet vs Fender Custom Shop Twisted Single-Coil Tele
Different Neck Pickup
Body Wood
Other vs Ash
Different Body Wood
Neck Wood
Mahogany vs Maple
Different Neck Wood
Fretboard Wood
Laurel vs Rosewood
Different Fretboard Wood
Nut Material
Ivory Tusq vs Synthetic Bone
Different Nut Material

Shared Features
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V vs Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster

Headstock
6
Same Headstock
Strings
6
Same playing style
Body Type
Solid Body
Feedback free
Switch Positions
3
Same pickups versatility
Number of Frets
22
Same maximum octave
Paint Finish
Poly
Resistant paint that ages well
Fretboard Radius
12'' (304.8mm)
Same fretboard comfortability
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
  • Weight Relief
  • Stays in Tune (Evertune)
  • High-Quality Frets
  • Compound Radius Fretboard
  • Luminescent Sidedots
  • Strap Lock
  • 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • Active/Passive Preamp

Price History Comparison

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Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster Prices

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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 V
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

New Player Friendliness

Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
  • Comfortable shape
  • Locking tuners
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Easy-to-use bridge

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 V

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 Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster

Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple
Rosewood wood pattern used for guitar building
Rosewood
Ash wood pattern used for guitar building
Ash

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.

Rosewood is an almost purple-looking wood that is used mainly for fretboards since it's heavy, rare, and expensive. It's sometimes used on acoustic guitar bodies to create stronger warm tones. Find out more about Rosewood.

Ash is a type of wood that Fender used almost exclusively in the 50s, and it's still used by many brands. It's a dense wood with a light color that works well for a transparent, natural finish because of its beautiful patterns. In terms of sound, it's known for emphasizing the mid and high frequencies, but with strong low end. Find out more about Ash.

Winner: Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster.

Pickup Configuration

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird V has an HH configuration while the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster has HS pickups.

Double Humbucker (HH) is the choice for people who want a fuller, more round sound with tons of mids and lows. Humbuckers also get rid of the hum noise that plague single-coil pickups. They can work out for almost any genre going from Djent to even Jazz.

On the other hand, An HS configuration gives you a bridge pickup with a lot of output for playing distortion parts, but you'll also have the bright sound of a Tele or Strat neck pickup for your clean tones.

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.

We found the same or similar pickups to the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster's online:

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: Tie.

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

Both are equal when it comes to the pickup switching option.

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

Epiphone 1963 Firebird V pickups switch and push knobs diagram
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V's switch options
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster pickups switch and push knobs diagram
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster'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: Epiphone 1963 Firebird V.

Final Sound Quality Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird V
Pickups 90
Sustain 70
Versatility 63
Tuning Stability 65
Sound 72
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
Pickups 90
Sustain 70
Versatility 59
Tuning Stability 75
Sound 74

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 V compares to the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster.

Country of Origin

The manufacturing country can tell a lot about the build quality of an instrument. The Epiphone 1963 Firebird V is built in China while the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster is made in United States.

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.

The United States is considered one of the best electric guitar manufacturers in the world. A guitar made in this country is supposed to have world-class quality control. Nowadays, guitars made in other countries can beat some of the ones made in the US, but most of the time, this country offers the best you can get. Of course, that comes at a price.

Winner: Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster

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.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird V has a Ivory Tusq nut. 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.

On the other hand, the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster comes with a Synthetic Bone nut. Bone is the best natural material for guitar nuts. However, its tonal properties can be inconsistent. That's the problem that synthetic bone fixes. This is much better than using a plastic nut because the nut is more slippery—which helps with tuning stability—, and it gives your open strings rich harmonics.

Winner: Tie.

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.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird V's brige is a Tremolo. Tremolo bridges give you more versatility than fixed bridges. They let you perform the intense vibrato effects that would be impossible with a fixed bridge. However, since the bridge floats and there's less contact with the body, the strings lose sustain slightly faster. They can also be a bit harder to restring and set up correctly than fixed bridges.

On the other hand, the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster's is a Bigsby Tremolo. Bigsby tremolos are built differently than regular tremolos. They have a stiffer arm, which is something a lot of people like because the arm won't wiggle around a lot. On the other hand, this type of tremolo is more complicated to restring and it might not be as newbie-friendly as other simpler tremolos.

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: Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster.

Tuners

The Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster has the best tuners of the two because they are locking tuners. They'll help to keep your guitar in tune because they allow you to tune it without wrapping the strings around the posts. This avoids variations in the tuning due to the strings changing position at the post after a bend. They come at the disadvantage of being slightly heavier than regular tuners. Also, it makes it a lot easier to restring.

Winner: Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster.

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 V 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 Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster comes with Bolt-On neck joint. This neck is joined to the body by 4 bolts that you can simply unscrew. This allows you to replace the neck or take it off for travel. It's the most common and cheapest way to build a guitar.

Winner: Epiphone 1963 Firebird V.

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

Strengths & Weaknesses
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V
  • Expensive Wood
  • Ivory Tusq Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Neck-Through Build
  • Tremolo
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in China
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock
Strengths & Weaknesses
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
  • Locking Tuners
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Synthetic Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Tremolo
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Final Build Quality Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird V
Quality of materials 66
Features 65
Quality Control 70
Build Quality 67
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
Quality of materials 66
Features 65
Quality Control 100
Build Quality 77

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 V Nut Width
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V Nut Width
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster Nut Width
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster Nut Width

The nut width will affect the separation between strings at the nut. In this comparison, the Epiphone 1963 Firebird V 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 V, 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 V's Scale Length
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V's Scale Length
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster's Scale Length
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster'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 Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster has the longest scale: 25.5". The Epiphone 1963 Firebird V is only 24.75" long. This is a 0.75'' (19.1mm) 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 V Neck Profile
Epiphone 1963 Firebird V's neck profile
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster Neck Profile
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster'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 V and the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster 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 V Fingerboard Radius
Both Guitars Have The Same Fretboard 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.

Both the Epiphone 1963 Firebird V and the Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster have the same fretboard radius of 12". This is the radius used in most Gibson guitars. It gives you a good balance for playing chords without muting, but also good comfortability for playing single notes and bending.

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 V:
Big Hands
Small Hands
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster:
Big Hands
Small Hands

Fret Size

Epiphone 1963 Firebird V and Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster 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 V
Bending & Vibrato Ease 80
Chord Playability 65
Solo Playability 80
Playability 75
Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
Bending & Vibrato Ease 70
Chord Playability 60
Solo Playability 70
Playability 67

Specs Side-by-Side

Epiphone 1963 Firebird V vs Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
General Epiphone 1963 Firebird V Fender Custom John 5 Signature Bigsby Telecaster
Brand: Epiphone Fender Custom
Year: 2024 2017
Configuration: HH HS
Strings: 6 6
Made in: China United States
Series: 1963 Firebird V Custom Artist
Colors: Blue, Red Black
Left-Handed Version: No No
Body
Type: Solid Body Solid Body
Body Material: 9-ply Mahogany/Walnut Neck-Through Select Ash
Bridge: Maestro Vibrola 6-Saddle Adjustable Bridge with Fender Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece
Neck
Neck Joint: Neck-Through Bolt-On
Tuners: Kluson "Banjo-style" Planetary Deluxe Cast/Sealed Locking
Fretboard: Indian Laurel Rosewood
Neck Material: Mahogany Maple
Decoration: Mother of Pearl Trapezoid White Dot
Scale Size: 24.75" 25.5"
Shape: 1963 Firebird Modern C
Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo Nickel Silver 22 Medium Jumbo Nickel Silver
Fretboard Radius: 12" 12"
Nut: Ivory Tusq Synthetic Bone
Nut Width: 43mm (1.693'') 42.9mm (1.688'')
Electronics
Bridge Pickup: Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnet (Humbucker / Passive) Seymour Duncan STHR-1b (Humbucker / Passive)
Middle Pickup:
Neck Pickup: Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnet (Humbucker / Passive) Fender Custom Shop Twisted Single-Coil Tele (Single Coil / Passive)
Switch: 3 Way 3 Way
Knobs: Bell Dome
Pickup Mods: None None
Volume Controls: 2 1
Tone Controls: 2 1