Gibson Hummingbird vs Dove Acoustic Guitar


If you’re looking for a high-end acoustic guitar which has a stand-out tone and looks to match, then the Gibson Hummingbird and Dove models are hard to ignore. But what is the difference between them?

In this article I’ll be comparing the features, tone, appearance and feel of the Hummingbird and Dove, to help you find the most suitable acoustic guitar.

Quick Comparison

The Gibson Dove sounds brighter due to its longer scale length and maple back and sides compared to the Gibson Hummingbird which has a warmer tone with more mid-range caused by the mahogany back and sides. Both acoustic guitars have the same body shape, neck shape and bracing pattern.

Gibson Hummingbird

Gibson Dove

Images link to Amazon

Gibson Dove and Hummingbird Specifications

Here is a table showing all the specification differences between the Gibson Hummingbird Original and Dove Original. At the time of writing, the Dove is only available in the Original-series, whereas there are three versions of the Hummingbird (Original, Standard and Studio).

FeatureGibson Hummingbird OriginalGibson Dove Original
Back and SidesMahoganyFlame Maple
Neck WoodMahoganyFlame Maple
Scale24.75”25.5”
Tuner PlatingGoldNickel
BridgeTraditional Belly-UpDove Signature
TunersGotoh KeystoneGrover Keystone
Pickguard0.06” HummingbirdDove Signature
ColorsAntique Natural
Heritage Cherry Sunburst
Antique Natural
Vintage Cherry Sunburst
Differences between the Gibson Hummingbird and Gibson Dove

Tone Comparison

The Hummingbird and Dove sound different from one another due to two specification differences:

  • Back and side wood: the Hummingbird uses mahogany whereas the Dove uses maple
  • Scale length: the Hummingbird has a 24.75″ scale whereas the Dove has a 25.5″ scale

The mahogany back and sides on the Hummingbird give it a fairly balanced EQ with a slight mid-range hump. This gives it a warm and full tone. The maple back and sides on the Dove give it a brighter tone as the EQ favours the treble frequencies. The Dove also sound louder than the Hummingbird.

These differences are accentuated by the scale lengths as well. The longer scale on the Dove gives it a tighter low-end and more high-end emphasis again contributing to its brighter tone. This is because the strings are under more tension.

The Hummingbird has slightly more sustain because the strings are able to vibrate for longer because they are under less tension.

Check out this YouTube video to hear the Hummingbird and Dove back-to-back.

How Do These Guitars Differ in Terms of Feel?

The main factor which makes these guitars differ in terms of feel and playability is the scale length. These guitars have the same neck profile, fingerboard radius, nut width and body shape.

The Hummingbird has a shorter 24.75″ scale length whereas the Dove has a longer 25.5″ scale length, but both guitars have the same string gauge out of the box.

Aside from the tone, the scale length affects three main things:

  • Fret spacing
  • String tension
  • Action

Fret Spacing

Since the Hummingbird has a shorter scale length, the frets are spaced more closely together. This is helpful if you have small fingers as you will not need to stretch as far to fret more difficult chords. It also helps you move up and down the fretboard slightly faster.

However, some players find the fret spacing on the Dove more comfortable. It’s all personal preference and depends on the size of your hands and the styles you play.

Width24.75” Scale25.5” ScaleDifference
At the 1st Fret35.28 mm36.35 mm1.07 mm
At the 12th Fret18.69 mm19.26 mm0.57 mm
At the 22nd Fret10.49 mm10.81 mm0.32 mm
Effect of scale length on fret spacing

String Tension

The longer scale length on the Dove means that the strings are under more tension compared to on the Hummingbird.

The more tension the string is under, the harder it is to fret and bend. You can decrease the string gauge to compensate for this though if you find the Dove a bit too difficult with its long scale and 0.012 gauge strings.

Action

The action of a guitar is the height of the string from the fretboard. Having a low action makes it easier to fret a string, but also makes it more likely to buzz compared to a higher action.

You can still get a low action with a Hummingbird, however not as low as you can with the Dove.

This is because the strings are under less tension with the Hummingbird and can vibrate more freely and sometimes buzz if they hit the fret when the action is very low.

Check out my article comparing 24.75″ and 25.5″ scale guitars to learn more about the differences.

Cosmetic Differences

Both these guitars are easily mistaken for one another due to their bold designs, but they don’t look identical.

The most obvious difference is caused by the different back, sides and neck woods. The bright red flame maple on the Dove definitely stands out more compared to the more understated brown mahogany on the Hummingbird.

Aside from this, there are some more subtle differences such as the pickguard and bridge designs. Here are some images (all link to Amazon) to demonstrate.

Hummingbird Pickguard

Hummingbird Pickguard

Similarities

Here is a complete list of similarities between the Gibson Dove and Hummingbird.

  • Square-Shoulder Dreadnought Shape
  • Spruce Top
  • Traditional Scalloped X-Bracing
  • Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Round Neck Profile
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • 12″ Fingerboard Radius
  • 20 Frets (Standard Size)
  • Bone Nut
  • 1.72″ Nut Width
  • Mother of Pearl Parallelograms Inlays
  • Torch Headstock Inlay
  • Compound Dovetail Neck Joint
  • Bone Saddle
  • LR Baggs VTC Pickup
  • Volume and Tone Control
  • 0.012 Gauge Strings
  • Hardshell Case Included
  • Left-Handed Versions Available

Prices

At the time of writing there are three versions available of the Gibson Hummingbird and one of the Gibson Dove. Here are the average prices:

  • Gibson Hummingbird Studio: $2350
  • Gibson Hummingbird Standard: $4000
  • Gibson Hummingbird Original: $4000
  • Gibson Dove Original: $4500

If you want to check the current prices, here are the links to Guitar Center:

Check out my in-depth comparison between the Gibson Hummingbird and Gibson J-45.

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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