Gibson expands Certified Vintage programme, adding lifetime warranty – and is the Victory set to return?

Gibson Certified Vintage
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson added five super-collectible electric guitars to its Certified Vintage programme and there is good news and bad news. The bad is that all but a Holy Grail 1959 ES-335 have been sold already. The good is that there is now a lifetime warranty – and that we might be seeing another new model some time soon.

New models have been coming in thick and fast from Gibson. This past week alone has witnessed the quite stunning return of the Les Paul Supreme, a series weight-relieved, tricked-out production line singlecuts from Gibson USA. There was the addition of the Dark Purple Burst finish to the Gibson Exclusives collection. 

But Gibson brand president and CEO Cesar Gueikian was onstage at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, TN, with what looked like an old Victory from the archives, except this had a six-in-line Explorer-style headstock. 

Is this a new model? A prototype? We can’t say for sure. But it’s a good bet that it is something we haven’t seen before, perhaps a refreshed version of the Victory, albeit with some familiar finishes (Gueikian’s looks like Antique Cherry Burst).

The Victory was considered by many players as the Big G’s answer to the Superstrats that were popularised in the ‘80s, and the novelty of that quite off-brand Gibson double-cut solidbody could work gangbusters in today’s market, especially with that Explorer headstock. 

As for the Certified Vintage series, the 1959 ES-335 is still available via the Gibson Garage. It has been refretted, but other than that it is 100 per cent original and described as “well played but not abused”, which seems like the platonic ideal for guitars of its age. 

It has a three-ply laminate maple body, a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, a fat neck, a Sunburst finish, a nickel ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, and of course, the pièce de résistance, a pair of PAF humbuckers. That this is still around and the others have sold is quite possibly down to the price. This will not be cheap.

As for the others in the series, there was a super-rare 1969 Gibson Crest, a model that was only in production for three years and was as luxurious a hollowbody as you’d see from that era. 

There was some lacquer checking – the likes of which you pay Gibson a premium for today – and a pair of floating Johnny Smith pickups., 1984 Explorer, and a 1987 Les Paul Custom.

That ’87 Custom was apparently found in the Gibson HQ Vault which is remarkable when you consider the finish on it – the Honey Burst makes the maple top look positively three-dimensional.

The ’84 Explorer was another hauled from the Vault and it is a real unicorn. It is not every day you see an Explorer in Blue Silverburst, and it’s even rarer to see one up for sale. It is equipped with a pair of Dirty Fingers humbuckers.

Rounding out these new, old, collectible models is a stunning 1968 Dove acoustic guitar. Besides a pickguard that is starting to warp, and some play wear, this is quite a find, with acoustics of this age really coming into their own as the decades go by. 

For more on Certified Vintage, head over to Gibson

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.