Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird: Which Model is the Best For Your Needs?

Comparing the Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird is like comparing the Rolling Stones to the Beatles since it is nearly impossible to determine which one is better.

These two acoustic guitars are among the most iconic models the company has ever produced as rock n’ roll legends like Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, or Elvis Presley are among musicians who played on either of these guitars.

Both of these square-shouldered dreadnought guitars remain among the best instruments a musician can get whether for studio sessions or live performances.

At first glance, the Gibson Hummingbird and Dove are almost identical but minor differences between them influence the sound quality and allow for different playing styles.

Our Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird comparison will take you through their most notable features and help you decide which guitar is a better option for you.

Main Differences Between Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird

The main differences between the Gibson Dove and Hummingbird are:

  • The Gibson Hummingbird’s back and side are made of mahogany, whereas the back and side of the Gibson Dove are made of flame maple
  • The Gibson Dove’s scale length is 25.5 inches, whereas the scale length on the Hummingbird is 24.75 inches
  • The Gibson Hummingbird’s tuner plating is made of gold, whereas tuner plating on the Gibson’s Dove model is made of nickel.
  • The Gibson Dove features a dove on the truss rod cover and pickguard, whereas the truss rod cover and pickguard on the Gibson Hummingbird feature a hummingbird.

The differences between these two Gibson’s models are minuscule, as the most notable distinction between the Dove and Hummingbird is the scale length. All other features such as the number of frets or electronic controls are identical.

Key Specifications

Gibson Dove Gibson Hummingbird 
Body shape Dove Hummingbird
Body material The top is made of Sitka spruce, body and top are made of flame maple The top is made of Sitka spruce, body and top are made of mahogany
Neck Three-piece maple, round with 12-inch fingerboard radius Mahogany, round, with 12-inch fingerboard radius
Frets Standard 20 Standard 20
Tuning machines Grover Keystone Gotoh Keystone
Warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty
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Comparing the Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird features

Let’s take a closer look at the features the Gibson Dove and Hummingbird offer.

The Gibson Dove

Gibson released multiple versions of their Dove model over the years, but each of them had only minor alternations of the original Dove acoustic guitar.

The Gibson Dove

Nearly sixty years after the first model was released, the Gibson Dove is still one of the best dreadnought guitars on the market that is aimed primarily at experienced musicians.

The manufacturer reintroduced the Dove model in 2018 that maintained the vintage look but slightly improved the guitar’s sound.

All versions of this instrument enable you to use it as both acoustic and electric guitar since you can easily connect it to an amp. Besides, each of the Gibson Dove models is versatile and you can play different genres of music on them.

Gibson Dove Original Acoustic-Electric Guitar | Guitar Center

The Gibson Dove Original's maple back and sides and long scale produce the crisp, clear tone and projection, while the square shoulder body adds balance and warmth. 

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Key Features

  • Dove body shape, with the top made of Sitka spruce, while the side and back are built from flame maple
  • Round neck made of three-piece maple and a rosewood fretboard
  • 25.5-inch scale length
  • LR Baggs VTC under-saddle pickup
  • The guitar features the built-in controls of the tone and volume
  • Nickel Grover Keystone tuners
  • Nitrocellulose finish

Shape and size 

The Elvis Presley Dove is arguably the most famous version of this Gibson’s guitar. Its recognizable dove body shape and ornaments have made this acoustic/electric guitar one of the most famous instruments of all time.

Its 25.5-inch scale length and solid maple sides and back make this guitar louder than the Hummingbird model. Moreover, the Gibson Dove features a mother-of-pearl dove inlay on both ends of the bridge.

Elvis Prisley Dove

The guitar is sturdy as it has a heavy internal bracing that doesn’t impact its sound significantly. It is worth noting that the internal bracing is lighter on the models that are released since 2018 than on the vintage models

Moreover, the guitar features a mother of pearls parallelogram on the neck that makes it easier to keep track of the notes you’re playing.

Sound

Over the years the Gibson Dove established itself as a guitar that complements and highlights the singer’s voice. Regardless of the model you choose, this guitar is going to sound great.

The models that were released in the 1960s had a metal tune-o-matic saddle that was a poor fit for an acoustic guitar. However, the Gibson Dove guitar went through countless changes since 1962 that focused on improving its sound.

Today, all Dove models produce a clear and loud sound that can be adjusted to almost any genre of music. What’s more, you can use 0.053, 0.042, 0.032, 0.024, 0.016, or 0.012 strings with any of the Gibson Dove guitars.

Sound

The length of the scale and the materials from which the top, back, and sides are built to enable this guitar to maintain clarity on high-end registries. The LR Baggs VTC under saddle pickup allows for easy on-stage or studio setup.

Other noteworthy features 

The Grover Keystone tuning machines, 1.72-inch bone nuts, and tusq bridge pins are among the features that make the Gibson Dove one of the best acoustic guitars ever built.

You can also choose between models with and without cutaways, depending on your playing style. In case you opt for any of the Gibson Dove models you will also get a hardshell case and the accessory kit that includes a strap and other accessories.

The manufacturer also offers limited edition Gibson Dove models that are significantly more expensive than the other models, but their features are almost identical.

Reliability

Any professional musician in need of a guitar that can provide a remarkable tonal versatility can benefit from getting a Gibson Dove guitar.

However, opting for one of the recent models is a better option, since some of the older models don’t sound as good as those released over the last couple of years.

Even so, any of the Gibson Dove models can be used in live performances or studio sessions as they produce recognizable sound and allow the musician to adjust the tone to their current needs.

The Gibson Hummingbird

Some of the greatest rock n’ roll hits ever written were played on a Gibson Hummingbird guitar, Keith Richards is probably the most famous musician who used Gibson’s iconic 1960 model.

The Hummingbird was the company’s first square-shouldered dreadnought guitar that became one of its flagship models. Forty years after its initial release the Gibson Hummingbird was pronounced the best dreadnought guitar by the prestigious Acoustic Guitar magazine.

The Gibson Hummingbird

A number of different Gibson Hummingbird models were released over the last sixty years, but most of them have the same features.

Different Hummingbird guitars may sound different due to the changes the manufacturer introduced on limited-edition models. Nonetheless, the core features of all Gibson Hummingbird guitars are the same.

Gibson Hummingbird Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar | Guitar Center

The 2019 Hummingbird Standard acoustic/electric features the reliable combination of a mahogany body with Sitka spruce top and adds a gorgeous Vintage Cherry Sunburst gloss finish.

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Key features 

  • The hummingbird body shape has a to the top made of Sitka spruce
  • Mahogany back and side
  • Traditional hand scalloped X-bracing
  • Round mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard
  • 24.75-inch scale length
  • Gotoh Keystone tuning machines
  • The saddle is made of bone material

Shape and size

The recognizable body shape is available with and without a cutaway, but squared shoulders remain one of the guitar’s most distinctive features.

The combination of Sitka spruce top and mahogany top and back are characteristic for all Hummingbird models, while the most recent versions of this dreadnaught guitar also feature a thermally aged soundboard that mimics the sound properties of old wood.

The guitar’s mahogany neck has a round profile and 24.75-inch scale radius, while the fingerboard radius is 12-inches, the same like on the Gibson Dove models. The Hummingbird has 20 standard frets on its neck that also features mother-of-pearls parallelogram inlays.

The model is equipped with a traditional belly-up bridge and Gotoh Keystone tuning machines, and its tuner plating is made of gold. Hummingbirds are depicted on the guitar’s pickguard and truss rod cover, while the saddle is made out of bone.

Sound 

The Rolling Stones’ hit ‘Angie’ is arguably one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the sound of a Gibson Hummingbird guitar.

The manufacturer has since perfected the guitar’s sound, as all models that were released since 2016 produce a warm and round tonality. However, this guitar has a relatively limited scale radius which impacts how loud it can get without an amplifier.

Moreover, Hummingbird struggles to maintain clarity of high-end registries, but it also enables you to hear when you hit a deaf tone. Even so, this guitar makes compact and full chords sound lively while keeping them relatively quiet.

Fingerpicking sounds great on a Gibson Hummingbird as notes cascade naturally because the guitar easily picks up low and high notes. Like the Gibson Dove, all Hummingbird models are compatible with 0.053, 0.042, 0.032, 0.024, 0.016 or 0.012 strings.

Other noteworthy features 

The electronics on the Hummingbird are the same as those you can find on any of the Gibson Dove models. These guitars are equipped with LR Baggs VTC and they allow you to control the volume and tone.

The Hummingbird is available in both left and right-handedness options and it comes with a lifetime warranty. In addition, you will get a hardshell case and the Gibson accessory kit together with the guitar.

The latest Hummingbird models can be purchased with a Heritage Cherry Sunburst and Antique Neutral nitrocellulose finishes.

Reliability 

All great acoustic guitars are fragile, but their fragility is a part of the reason why they sound so good. The Gibson Hummingbird is not the sturdiest dreadnought guitar on the market but it is probably one of the best sounding guitars ever created.

The under-saddle pickup is LR Baggs VTC and it makes it easy to use this guitar during studio sessions. If you are looking for a guitar that will sound great during concerts, then you should consider getting one of the Gibson Hummingbird models.

Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird – Pros and Cons

The Gibson Dove Pros

  • Built from high-quality materials
  • Excellent tuning mechanism
  • The scale length increases the guitar’s playability and maximum volume
  • Ships stage and studio ready

The Gibson Dove Cons

  • More expensive than the Gibson Hummingbird
  • Some older models contain metal elements that impact the guitar’s sound

The Gibson Hummingbird Pros

  • Traditional hand scalloped X-bracing produces a stable and balanced sound
  • Soft rosewood fingerboard
  • Thermally aged soundboard replicates the sound properties of old wood
  • Suitable for professional musicians and hobbyists

The Gibson Hummingbird Cons

  • The hummingbird ornaments may not be according to everyone’s taste
  • Mahogany back and side limit the guitar’s maximum volume

The best alternatives to Gibson Dove and Hummingbird guitars

The fact that you have to spend several thousand dollars on a Gibson Dove or Hummingbird guitar may be the reason why you may want to consider some of the alternatives to these iconic Gibson’s dreadnought guitars.

We’ve shortlisted a few of the best acoustic/electric guitars on the market so let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

Martin LX1E Little Martin

Coming from the manufacturer that invented dreadnought guitars, the Martin LX1E Little Martin is the company’s smallest model.

Hence, you don’t need to have long fingers to play this guitar which makes it a perfect practice instrument for children and teenagers. The 14 fret guitar has a 23-inch scale radius and it features a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany high-pressure laminate back and sides.

Martin LX1E Little Martin

Manufacturers used the X-Brace bracing method which ensures that the guitar makes a warm and powerful sound. The neck is made from rust birch laminate, while the FSC® Certified Richlite® was used as the fingerboard material.

The Martin LX1E is equipped with a Chrome Enclosed Gear tuning machine and it utilizes Fishman® Sonitone electronics. However, the Little Martin guitar isn’t a studio instrument and it is best used for practice or informal jam sessions.

You can also check out our Martin LXK2 Little Martin review if you are interested to learn more about the models this manufacturer offers.

Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar | Guitar Center

The LX1 model features a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany high-pressure laminate HPL back, sides and top. It’s ideal for travel, student practice or for just playing around the house or campfire.

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Takamine GN93CE-NAT

Although Takamine may not be among the industry-leading brands, its GN93CE-NAT model is certainly one of the best mid-range acoustic/electric guitars you can get. This cutaway model has a solid spruce top as well as a three-piece quilt maple-rosewood back.

The guitar’s sides are built from black walnut and maple while the neck is made of mahogany, and the model has a natural finish. The GN93CE-NAT is equipped with a Laurel fingerboard while the neck features abalone dot inlays.

The Takamine TK-40D Preamp with built-in tuner also includes a three-band EQ, gain controls, notch filter, EQ bypass, and switch. The guitar’s design allows for a variety of playing styles while the cutaway makes it easier to reach upper frets.

What’s more, this Takamine’s model produces an excellent sound which makes it a suitable choice for musicians that don’t want to spend a fortune on an acoustic/electric guitar.

Takamine GN93CE-NAT | Amazon

Takamine TK-40D preamp system gives you a built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls, mid contour switch, notch filter and EQ bypass switch for the ultimate in versatility and sound quality.

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Yamaha FGX820C

The Yamaha FGX820C strikes a perfect balance between performance and cost, as this model is both affordable and capable of producing excellent sound.

This is partly due to the fact that the manufacturer built the top from solid Sitka spruce, while mahogany was used for the side and the back.

The guitar’s bridge and fingerboard are made from rosewood, while the neck is made of Nato wood.

The FGX820C model has a 25.5-inch scale radius and the 23.6-inch fingerboard radius. This dreadnought cutaway guitar features SYSTEM66 + SRT Pickup electronics and it comes with a built-in tuner.

The scalloped braces ensure that the instrument has a wide tonal range, which makes the Yamaha FGX820C suitable for a variety of music genres.

What’s more, you can choose between concert and dreadnaught versions of the instrument or a number of different finishes.

Yamaha FGX820C Acoustic-Electric Guitar | Amazon

The 800 Series features a new scalloped bracing pattern; an ideal acoustic structure that maintains the durability of the top board, while bringing out more of the natural sound of the instrument.

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Frequently asked questions about Gibson Dove and Hummingbird guitars

Question: Is Gibson Dove a good guitar for novice players?

Answer: Playing a Gibson Dove guitar isn’t difficult as the fretboard is made from soft rosewood and the model is compatible with different types of strings. However, this dreadnaught guitar may be too expensive for non-professional musicians.

Question: Do all Gibson Dove models have drove ornaments?

Answer: Even though most Gibson Dove guitars have dove ornaments on the pickguard and truss rod cover, the Elvis Presley Dove model doesn’t have these ornaments.

Question: Can a left-handed player play a Gibson Hummingbird guitar?

Answer: Gibson Hummingbird and Dove guitars are built to accommodate the needs of both left-handed and right-handed players.

Question: How durable is a Gibson Hummingbird guitar?

Answer: Even though it is not built from sturdy materials, with proper maintenance you can use this guitar for years without having to worry about replacing any of its vital components.

The Verdict – Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird? Which guitar should you choose?

Just a brief look at any of the Gibson Dove or Hummingbird models is enough to understand that these dreadnought guitars are so famous for a reason.

Besides great looks, both of these guitars sound great, which is the reason why some of the greatest names in rock n’ roll history used either of these Gibson’s models to produce some of their best work.

The company reintroduced the Hummingbird and Dove guitars in 2016 and 2018 that come with even better sound. The only concern a guitar player should have while deciding between these two models is their price.

The Gibson Hummingbird is only slightly more affordable than the Dove, so if you want a guitar that offers a great scale length and that performs better at high-end registers then Gibson Dove is the right choice for you.

However, the differences between these two guitars are miniscule and they are both a great option for a professional studio musician or a live performer.

We hope that our Gibson Dove vs Hummingbird comparison has helped you decide which of these guitars better fits your needs and playing style.

Leave a comment and let us know or read our Martin GPCPA5K Performing Artist Acoustic Guitar review.

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