Friday, January 06, 2012

This day in music - January 6, 1958: Gibson Guitars launches its "Flying V" electric guitar (see Albert King below)

I'm not much of an electric guitar player. Give me my Martin D-28 acoustic, but I do have a couple of electrics around the house and can play a blues scale if absolutely forced. But none of my guitars is as groovy as the Gibson "Flying V" -- meant to suggest a futuristic theme by the maker.

Who could blame them? It was 1958. The promise of spaceflight was all around. Lots of Hollowood B movies to fuel the imagination. One could almost imagine Robby the Robot kicking back with one of these in between missions. It's kind of a cool guitar in its own space nerd, trying-too-hard, Big Bang Theory kind of way. I like it.

The model originally sold poorly and was discontinued by 1959 but after some better known players like Lonnie Mack and Albert King starting using it, some interest was generated, which may have been why the company reissued the instrument in 1967 in mahogany. After that a whole bunch of "Guitar Gods" like Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, and Lenny Kravitz decided they just had to play one too. And that's generally all it takes.

Lest you think this is all trivia, I draw your attention to the fact that the 1958-59 korina "Flying V" is one of the most valuable production-model guitars on the market, ranked at No. 5 on the 2011 Top 25 published by Vintage Guitar, and worth between $200,000 and $250,000.

So if you see one at a garage sale, shoot the guy a few bucks and take it home very quickly.

Here's Albert King with what looks like a "Flying V," unless someone can tell me different. Maybe an expert can also tell me what year the guitar was made and if it's modified in any way. Anything like that. I'm willing to learn. The tune is called " "Blues Power."

And if you're really into the guitar thing, check out this link with numerous Gibson "Flying V"s on display. Go nuts!

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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