Firefly FFDCS: Is its tone enough to save this?
During my downtime, I’ve been picking up various guitars. I try to focus on higher end stuff so I’m not bogging down my space with too much affordable gear, which is easy to do. Sure, lots of guitars sounds like fun, until you’re tripping over them left and right. But I had to jump at this opportunity to snag a Firefly FFDCS in TV Yellow.
For people in the know, this is a semi loose interpretation of a late-50’s/early-60’s Gibson Les Paul Junior Double Cut. Only the bridge has perhaps the longest intonation screws imaginable and the horns are a little goofy.
Upon initial inspection, I was bothered a bit by the fit and finish. First, the paint’s edges on the neck is uneven up to the fingerboard. Because the edge of the paint is uneven, I can easily feel it with my thumb as I play it. The tuning machines are nothing special. They’re your standard, Gotoh-inspired, generic, sealed tuners. They hold tune okay after spending time stretching out the strings, so I’m not complaining too much there.
I did find a critical problem on this guitar, which was the wraparound tailpiece. The cavities where the poles go into do not handle tention well. The poles were sloping forward and expanding the holes themselves, making the poles easy to pull out. Obviously, having your bridge pop out mid performance is a nightmare most guitars don’t ever consider. So if this was left unchecked, a bridge popping out is an unfortunate potential reality.
The frets were surprisingly awesome. No fret sprout, buffed to a shine, and level. String bends are all glide with no noticeable grind. But something that was strange to me is just how long the neck heel was. It’s almost like it was originally intended to be a bolt-on neck, but glued in place instead.
I wondered if mine was modded because I didn’t expect to find any kind of orange drop capacitor. But yeah, there’s totally an orange drop buried in there and it’s stock. Additionally, I was surprised to find a braided lead from the pickup. This isn’t something I usually see on budget instruments, and in some cases higher value guitars like Fender.
But no, I pulled the pickup out and it’s 100% stock. Then I started comparing my findings to what others have discussed online. Sure enough, all these components are stock which speaks volumes in favor of Firefly’s ability to not skimp on the important stuff.
Another feature that slipped by me for the first hour of playing it was the arm cut, similar to that of an SG. This adds an extra level of comfort while playing it, and differs from what’s offered out of the Gibson camp. It’s a nice modern spin on a classic design.
But I think the tone is what really wins me over here. I’m someone who loves the sharp, bridge snappy attack from a Telecaster bridge pickup. This P90 delivers a similar attack. It’s not a hot P90, so my amps don’t break up as easily with this Firefly pickup. But, for me, that’s something I actually appreciate. I love lower output pickups through higher gain amps, preferably over the opposite (hot pickups through clean amps).
The electronics are super clean and the neck, despite the crazy long heel, is easy to play. A guitar like this pretty much does one thing: Bright licks. I could see this going over well with a chicken pickin’ country artists to a punk rocker. These are super affordable and accessible.
So should you get one? That depends. My experience with Firefly has been pretty hit or miss lately. Sometimes they’re gems and other times they’re warped and unplayable. So your mileage may vary should you grab a FFDCS for yourself. Assuming you’d receive one identical to mine, they’re great tracking or practice guitars. You won’t fool anyone into thinking you have an actual Gibson as the horns alone are slightly off, but this guitar is definitely a performer that aims to please. Sure, you might have to put a little work into this guitar, including fixing some things Firefly let slip through the cracks (like the sloping bridge). If you can get over that, it’s a winning instrument. Because if tone is what matters most to you, this guitar will deliver and then some. Every pick attack will be heard loud and clear.
As I’m writing, I’ve discovered that this guitar isn’t currently shown on their Guitars Garden website, and I must have purchased from the last of their lot. The bigger brother model, a Firefly FFDCD is also missing from their site. I don’t know if they’ve discontinued this model, or are experiencing supply chain issues. But there are plenty of them used out there, or you can explore Firefly’s other offerings on Guitars Garden.
***Disclaimer: This guitar was not offered to the 11th Fret for a review, nor was this content sponsored in any way. 11th Fret paid-in-full for this instrument to share an unbiased opinion.