The GIBSON FLYING V GUITAR

Posted: January 4, 2018 in Guitars
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The Gibson Flying V is one of the most distinctive and recognizable electric guitars ever made. We’re celebrating its history with the below gallery featuring many rockers who have played one, including Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards and Tom Petty.

As Guitar Aficionado notes, its look was Gibson’s attempt to come up with a Modernist answer to the Fender Stratocaster. In 1956, Gibson president Ted McCarty commissioned some new designs, and the Flying V was the only one that survived the process intact.

 The ’59 Gibson Flying V made famous by Albert King. “Lucy,” the guitar built by Dan Erlwine in the early 1970s and used extensively by King. The mid-’60s Gibson Flying V King played extensively after his ’59 V was lost. Photos by Rick Gould.

The ’59 Gibson Flying V made famous by Albert King. “Lucy,” the guitar built by Dan Erlwine in the early 1970s and used extensively by King. The mid-’60s Gibson Flying V King played extensively after his ’59 V was lost.

Actor Steven Seagal has attained admiration and notoriety among blues devotees for his custodianship of these classic American axes, previously owned by such legends as the Kings, Bo Diddley, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix. These are guitar cases containing iconic instruments of the American blues Kings – Freddie, B.B., and Albert. three Flying Vs once played extensively by the great blues master Albert King. Such is the eclectic and inclusive mosaic of Seagal’s multicultural world.

Billy F Gibbons: These guitars are so important; they represent what came out of Albert with his hands. Look at the beauty of these keys; they have not deteriorated. I think anyone lucky enough to play the Gibson Flying V from the late 1950s would concur that it is not only one of the most exotic instruments, but came from the zenith of Gibson’s manufacturing expertise.

A patent was issued on January. 7th, 1958, and it quickly became a favorite with blues stars Albert King and Lonnie Mack. King, in particular, liked it because, as a lefty, he could turn it upside down and it would look the same. But it originally didn’t sell very well and was quickly discontinued.

1958 was the year Gibson launched the Flying V guitar – the first of the company’s ‘Modernistic’ series, designed to combat the growing challenge from California’s upstart Fender brand.

Like the other two Gibson proto-pointy guitars, the Firebird and the Explorer, the Flying V got off to a shaky start – in fact it didn’t really achieve major stardom until the 1970s, though Lonnie Mack and Albert King both made the V their trademark guitars pretty early on, and the Kinks’ Dave Davis had a gorgeous korina bodied V in the mid-1960s. In ’67 Jimi Hendrix acquired one, too. He may be forever associated with a Strat, but much of Hendrix’s Bluesier playing was undertaken on  a V.   In 1969 Wishbone Ash formed, giving the guitar its longest serving ambassador – Andy Powell,

Since then, while never coming within a country mile of the success of the Les Paul, Gibson’s Flying V has become a staple of Rock guitar. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons played one on Fandango and Germany’s Michael Schenker joined the exclusive brethren, too, soon to be followed by Judas Priest’s K.K. Downing.

Dave Davies's Gibson Flying V Electric Guitar

Dave Davies with his 1959 Gibson Flying V, circa 1967. According to Dave’s official site, the guitar had a “slightly different shape from the Flying V because it was in fact a prototype V.”

Dave further discusses the guitar in this interview for Gibson:

‘It was either late ’65 or early ’66. We were starting our first American tour, and we went to L.A. to do either the “Hullabaloo” TV show, or “Shindig!” In those days you just carried one suitcase and one guitar. We arrived at LAX and the luggage came, but there was no guitar. I had a Gretsch at the time and the airline had lost it. We were in a bit of a panic, so we left the airport and went to the first thrift shop we could find. I saw this funny-shaped box in the corner. The proprietor said, ‘Oh, you don’t want that one. It’s an old thing.’ I said, ‘Let me look, let me see.’ He opened it up and there was this lovely, strange, space-age looking guitar in there. I fell in love with it straightaway. He said he wanted 200 bucks for it, and I told him, ‘Okay.’ Later I found out it was a 1959 Flying V—the model referred to as the Futurist, I believe. While we were in the TV studio, I was looking through the monitors, watching myself with that guitar. I thought it looked really cool. I kept that guitar up until the early ‘90s, till around 1993.'”

Still, even with Richards playing one at the Rolling Stones‘ famous Hyde Park show in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix — who was influenced by King — having one custom-made, it failed to sell in big numbers and production ceased in 1970.

They tried again in the mid-’70s and, this time, it caught hold with hard rock acts overseas, thanks to Michael Schenker of the rock band The Scorpions and UFO Schenker’s relationship with Vs began when he ran into problems with his own guitar and needed to borrow a replacement in a hurry. Enter big brother, Rudolph, who loaned him a ’71 Medallion V.  It was love at first bite, as Michael plugged it into his Marshall stacks.

Marc Bolan of T. Rex and Bad Company’s Mick Ralphs, and it hasn’t been out of production since. It later became synonymous with ’80s metal thanks to Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, a huge Schenker fan.

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Comments
  1. Alex says:

    Wow, awesome weblog layout! How long have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog look easy. The total look of your web site is great, as well as the content material!

    • lizsamdog says:

      thanks so much Alex , my original idea was to show guitars and pedal boards for bands that i see as it always intrigues me to see what pedal players have on the layout, I love guitars too I have eleven , always looking to maybe get one more , I would love a ric 12 string blonde as i love the sound………thanks so much you could check out my other pages thesepsychedelicdays.com and thefatangelsings.com

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