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Gibson Releases ‘Holy Grail’ 1958 Flying V and Explorer Clones

Gibson Flying and Explorer
(Image credit: Gibson)

Back in the late ‘50s, Gibson president Ted McCarty and his team were brainstorming ideas for electric guitars that would compete with the sleek, forward-thinking image of Fender – distinctive solidbody designs that would elevate them beyond their staid reputation as builders of traditional-looking instruments.

In June 1957, three radical solidbody design patents relating to the Futura/Explorer, ‘Moderne’ and Flying V were filed and subsequently issued in January 1958. Collectively, these became known as Gibson's Modernistic range.

1958 Gibson Flying V

Original 1958 Gibson Flying V pictured in Sweden's Guitars - The Museum (Image credit: Future)

While the legendary ‘Moderne’ is known to only exist on paper, the Flying V and Explorer were introduced in 1958. However, showing little success in terms of sales, both models were discontinued by the following year. Consequently, original examples are extremely rare with less than 100 Flying Vs and a mere 22 Explorers registered shipped between 1958-1959.

Now, with the benefit of modern 3D scanning technology and access to original instruments, Gibson’s Custom Shop have expertly recreated authentic clones of these highly collectible ‘Holy Grail’ guitars from ethically sourced Korina and Brazilian rosewood. To add that genuine vintage Gibson look and feel, each of the limited edition guitars (consisting of 19 Explorers and 81 Flying Vs as per the 1958 shipping totals) have been hand-aged in the Murphy Lab.

Here’s a quick rundown of each…

The 1958 Korina Flying V

Gibson Flying V

(Image credit: Gibson)
  • 2-piece center seam solid Korina Flying V body
  • Brazilian rosewood fingerboard
  • Solid Korina neck
  • Murphy Lab Custom Aging
  • Custombucker PAFs

The 1958 Korina Explorer

Gibson Explorer

(Image credit: Gibson)
  • 1-piece solid Korina Explorer body
  • Brazilian rosewood fingerboard
  • Solid Korina neck
  • Murphy Lab Ultra Light Aging
  • Custombucker PAFs

Visit the Gibson website for more details.

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.