Following a dealer-exclusive launch event last week in which Sweetwater sold out their stock within the hour, Gibson has officially announced a wider release for its Custom Shop Richie Faulkner Flying V Custom.
Even at an eye-watering $6,999, these won’t stick around. They are only making 100 of them. And as Flying Vs as metal guitars go, the Judas Priest guitarists new signature model is as good as it gets. It’s finished in Pelham Blue, with a full-face white pickguard offering a nice contrast. There is multi-ply binding on the body and on the headstock. There is a Judas Priest engraving on the bell-shaped truss rod cover.
But most significantly it augments the classic Ted McCarty electric guitar design with Faulkner’s signature active EMG humbuckers and a Floyd Rose Original double-locking vibrato, making for a fully functional stunt guitar for high-gain metal and rock.
Anyone who has caught Priest live in recent times will recognise the guitar. It has been road-tested and is based on a similar Flying V that Faulkner has been using for over a decade now.
“This guitar has become a good friend of mine over the past couple of years and is the latest evolution of my main guitar with Priest for the past 12 years,” said Faulkner. “It’s something that has evolved as I have both on stage and in the studio, in looks and in sound.
“Whenever I see that double pick guard and Pelham blue, I know that that is my guitar. With the Floyd Rose, signature EMG pickups and striking appearance I know that armed with my faithful Flying V, I will be able to deliver every night. Beautiful yet deadly, elegant yet sonically powerful it is the number one guitar in my arsenal.”
That Faulkner is around at all to play this guitar is a miracle in itself. When playing Louder Than Life festival in Kentucky with Judas Priest in 2021, he had an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection – which is as bad as it sounds.
Luckily, one of the best heart hospitals in the United States was close at hand. After successful emergency surgery, medics hypothesised whether the adrenaline from playing an hour-long metal show kept Faulkner alive long enough to get him to the operating table.
Two weeks ago, Faulkner admitted to MusicRadar that, medically speaking, he “shouldn’t be here”. The incident left the Judas Priest and Elegant Weapons guitarist with a new perspective on life.
“When what happened to me happens to other people, they go down and they don’t get up, because they don’t get to the hospital, you know?” he said. “The fact I managed to get to one quickly and they were able to operate and save my life is pretty lucky. The odds were against me. To be here, almost two years later, talking about new records and tours – just talking in general – I’m incredibly fortunate of.”
As for the guitar, other specs include a one-piece solid mahogany body, a set mahogany neck, a 12” radius ebony fingerboard inlaid with MOP blocks and an MOP Falcon at the 12th fret. It has a 24.75” scale. This is a top-end Custom Shop instrument, so top quality components have been used throughout, including Switchcraft jacks and switches.
Not that there’s too much to fuss with here; Faulkner dispenses with the need for a tone control. You’ve got a volume pot and a three-way switch, and hopefully a high-gain guitar amp nearby to play this through. Inside the hard-shell guitar case there is a certificate of authenticity.