“An enduring symbol of the era’s energy, defiance, and rock n roll rebellion”: Gibson offers its ‘70s Flying V and Explorer in Antique Natural

Gibson 70s Flying V
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has launched a pair of ‘70s-inspired takes on its classic Flying V and Explorer, with both finished in Antique Natural with high-contrast white pickguards.

These are part of the ever-expanding Original Collection and are a variation on a theme, because if you’ll cast your mind back to NAMM 2020, Gibson, resurgent, had consulted the archive and launched ‘70s editions of the Flying V and Explorer in Classic White

Here they were, two of the Ted McCarty’s most future-forward electric guitar designs, with the white-on-white finishes, uncovered ‘70s Tribute Alnico V humbuckers, bound rosewood fingerboards with dot inlays, and a vibe that looked very James Hetfield.

Now, three years on, we see the release of the very same models in Antique Natural and not that much has changed. The pickup configuration is the same. We still have the black ‘Speed’ knobs on the Explorer while the Flying V has black ‘Top Hats’ with silver reflector knobs. Both, of course, have the two volume, master tone control configuration, with a three-way pickup selector.

When we see a Flying V or Explorer in an Antique Natural finish, there’s no question it makes us think of the korina models. There’s that similar honeyed amber colour to them both, particularly in photographs, but these are all mahogany, with SlimTaper mahogany necks glued to solid mahogany bodies. The fingerboards are once more bound rosewood, with 22 medium jumbo frets and a 12” radius, and they are inlaid with acrylic dots. 

Hardware is chrome. There is an aluminium Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge and aluminium stop-bar tailpiece on both models. You will find a set of kidney bean-style Grover Rotomatic tuners on the headstock. Graph Tech supplies the nut.

Much seemed to be made of the hand-wired control circuit for the pickups at the time, and the Orange Drop capacitors – features now standard for Gibson electrics. Speaking of Gibson standards, the scale length is your typical 24.75” – which is all to say these guitars will be familiar, and that’s part of their appeal.

They might be styled up to reference Gibson’s Norlin-era, which many Gibson fans would argue was not the brand’s greatest moment, but as with the stylish ‘70s Les Paul Deluxe, there were plenty of gems ripe for rediscovery, some TLC and a reissue. Here, the bold ‘70s Tribute Humbuckers, not to mention two classy finish options, are big selling points.

The ‘70s Tribute ‘bucker run hotter that those, say, in the PAF lineage. Slightly overwound, they pair perfectly with more aggressive styles, hard rock and metal without getting too crazy about it, and they are wax potted to make sure they don’t scream when your guitar amp is cranked hard.

Both the Flying V and Explorer are finished off with a lick of gloss nitrocellulose lacquer, and they are available now, priced $2,499 and ship in a hard-shell guitar case. See Gibson for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.