Gibson has launched its first signature guitar for brand ambassador and Megadeth (opens in new tab) frontman Dave Mustaine. The Dave Mustaine Flying V EXP adopts Gibson’s classic V profile and augments it with a six-in-line headstock more commonly seen on an Explorer.
It arrives in two finishes – Antique Natural and Silver Metallic – with each guitar emblazoned with a Mustaine signature graphic on the rear of the headstock. But besides the name on the truss plate, the Flying V EXP is noteworthy for being a high-performance version of the Flying V featuring a number of off-menu spec choices for a Gibson electric guitar.
The Flying V EXP has a longer 25.5” scale. Instead of the traditional 12” fingerboard radius, here we have a compound radius ebony ‘board housing 24 medium jumbo frets. And, okay, this has nothing to do with the performance but the MOP teeth inlays gives that fingerboard a go-faster vibe.
Mustaine has plumped for his signature Seymour Duncan Thrash Factor humbucking electric guitar pickups (opens in new tab) for the bridge and neck positions, which replicate the classic JB/59 bridge/neck pickup combo that gave him his tone on Megadeth’s 1990 masterpiece Rust In Peace.
Both finishes are complemented by black chrome hardware, with the headstock equipped with a set of kidney bean Grover Mini-Rotomatic tuners, and a tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece.
In many respects, this is a hybrid of classic designs – fundamentally, it’s still a Flying V, with a solid mahogany body and a set mahogany neck carved into a SlimTaper profile.
The vintage/modern duality continues to the controls, where we have witch hat-style knobs for the two independent volume pots and master tone control. A three-way pickup selector is mounted between volume and tone pots.
It will be interesting to see just how slim that neck is and how its profile measures up to Mustaine’s previous signature models from the likes of Dean and ESP. Speaking to MusicRadar, Gibson's Brand President Cesar Gueikian (opens in new tab) described how the company developed its signature models with artist input.
Having designed signature models with the likes of Tony Iommi, Adam Jones and Slash, he explained how the collaboration with Mustaine was going to be a little different, with the Megadeth man's signature guitar developed across all of Gibson's brands, from Custom Shop and USA lines to Epiphone and Kramer, too.
“The good thing about working with artists like Dave, Slash, Adam and Tony is they know what they want. And so that actually makes it easier for us, because creating the initial hypotheses of what we're going to prototype is actually much faster. And so working with Dave, he really knew what he wanted.
"We then pivoted really into creating a number of different options and prototypes that were hitting what he was looking for, leading to the final prototypes that he just took out on tour. And that was a great moment for testing. He was confident enough in the instruments that he said, 'Alright I let me put them through a tour’.”
Gueikian revealed that Mustaine was playing a prototype acoustic guitar (opens in new tab) on the forthcoming Megadeth album, The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!, that will be put into work in the months to come.
“It's really interesting because we first started with a smaller body but a sharp cutaway, and he actually used that guitar on the [Megadeth] record that hasn't come out yet. And then we pivoted into a bigger body in the style of the Gibson Songwriter.
"And so we are going to go with that bigger body. A very particular guitar; highly involved, 24-fret acoustic. Absolutely beautiful. Every every detail into design and then the construction is a very involved process because of all the things that Dave wanted.”
The Gibson Dave Mustaine Flying V EXP is available now in limited quantities from Gibson and select retailers, and is priced $2,799 and ships with a hardshell case. See Gibson for more details.