What’s this? A Gibson Custom Shop Richie Faulkner Flying V Custom in Pelham Blue, unveiled by the Judas Priest guitarist himself

Richie Faulkner, Gibson and Sweetwater have surprise released an exquisite signature Flying V Custom for the Judas Priest guitarist, with the US retail giant unveiling the new high-end electric guitar on their YouTube channel.

The launch of Faulkner’s Flying V Custom took place as part of Sweetwater’s GearFest 2023, and yes it was a surprise, if not a shock. It was only yesterday that the oracle for all things new from Gibson – Cesar Gueikian’s Instagram account – suggested there was something brewing, with the Gibson brand president and interim CEO jamming on a Pelham Blue V – through a Mesa/Boogie Mark VII, of course. That usually means a release is imminent. When, however, we would have to wait and see.

But it looks like Sweetwater have got first dibs on this release, with Faulkner himself demoing the instrument and introducing it to the world. He doesn’t go into too many of the features. In the 19 hours or so since the video was posted, it looks like Sweetwater has sold all its stock of them. 

Those who bagged one – for a price of seven thousand of your US dollars – would have got a certificate of authenticity signed by Faulkner, and got their hands on what will surely be one of the most sought-after metal guitars of 2023. A portion of the proceeds will go to some of Faulkner's favourite charities.

Gibson Custom Shop Richie Faulkner Flying V Custom

(Image credit: Sweetwater / YouTube)

There is no news as and when there will be a wider release. This, however is what you have got to look forward to. The guitar has a one-piece solid mahogany body, a set mahogany neck with a custom Faulkner-approved profile, and a 24.75” scale. That neck is topped with a 12” radius ebony fingerboard that’s inlaid with mother of pearl blocks with a Falcon logo at the 12th fret.

This being the custom, you’ll find a split-diamond headstock inlay, too, with multi-ply binding on the top and back of the body, and the headstock. The double pickguard in white looks the bee’s knees against that metallic Pelham Blue finish. All very on-point as per the brand but here’s where Faulkner and the Gibson R&D team have taken things down the road to Valhalla, spec-wise.

Gibson Custom Shop Richie Faulkner Flying V Custom

(Image credit: Sweetwater / YouTube)

Besides the Judas Priest etched truss rod cover, we have a double-locking Floyd Rose vibrato and a pair of Faulkner’s signature active EMG humbuckers – which is another new one on us. As of now, the EMG site has not got them listed but Sweetwater describes the pickups as having a design comprising an Alnico V magnet, with steel pole pieces on the bridge pickup, ceramic on the neck.

Their tasting notes instruct us to expect “a PAF-like character augmented by active electronics for extra headroom, maximum punch, and unparalleled definition and presence” on the bridge pickup, while the neck pickup offers “tons of articulate clarity with expansive lows, with a warm-sounding active preamp specially tailored for super-smooth mids.”

These pickups are controlled via a three-way toggle switch and a single volume control. Other features include Grover tuners, a hardshell guitar case is included in the deal, and the whole thing is finished off as per house style with a lick of nitrocellulose lacquer. 

For more details and pics, head over to Sweetwater, and stay tuned for news of a wider release. It’s not cheap, but if you’ve been saving the beans for a top-shelf metal guitar, this could be the one. 

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.