When Gibson’s futuristic Explorer and Flying V electric guitars began rolling out in 1958, they were very much ahead of their time and both models ended production after only a few years in their initial run. The space-age-looking axes were a follow-up to the brand’s groundbreaking Les Paul models, which debuted in 1952 and proved to be a commercial failure as well — this time because guitarists wanted something that looked less old-fashioned. Rock ‘n’ roll was in its nascent years and the times were a-changin’. Gibson simply couldn’t win.
As it were, history would correct itself. The Les Paul quickly found prominence in the early classic rock scene. However, it would take a bit longer for the angular Explorer and Flying V to become hits, which they were during the hard rock and heavy metal days a decade or two later. Guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Dave Davies were among the first to favor the models, sparking both of them to return to production years later. Now, American instrument maker Epiphone, in collaboration with the Gibson Custom Shop, has made playable replicas of the original Explorer and Flying V models.
Each available with either a white or black pickguard, the guitars’ necks and bodies are made from solid Korina wood — a proprietary term used by Gibson for limba wood, which was lighter than mahogany — just like the originals from 1958. Other features include an Indian laurel fretboard, gold hardware, and a trio of volume controls utilizing Gibson’s Burstbucker pickups with a Mallory capacitor.
Both the 1958 Flying V and the 1958 Explorer are priced at $1,299 from Epiphone’s website.