Despite being half a century old, Gibson's Flying V and its derivatives are still doing brisk business. The V-Factor New Century manages to make the Flying V even more audacious.
Not only does this model feature the same showboating contours as the 1950s original, but it also boasts a mirror pickguard spread across the length of its mahogany body.
When it comes to the tonewoods, the V-Factor is simple and brutally effective. The basis of the body is a slightly ungainly and fairly heavy strip of mahogany, combined with a set mahogany neck and ebony fretboard. Granted, it's a somewhat unrefined package, but it helps if we explain the V-Factor's relatively competitive price.
When you've got a guitar that looks like a fighter jet, you don't need to waste time with flash hardware. Realising this, Gibson has equipped the V-Factor with a reliable tune-o-matic bridge and stop bar, combined with chrome Grover tuners and a three-way selector. As for pickups, there is a 496R ceramic magnet humbucker at the neck ("incredible sustain and cutting power!" states the website), while in the bridge position you'll find a 500T ("if it's no-holds-barred, in-your-face rock riffs you want, look no further!").
Like many of Gibson's 1950s designs, the original Flying V didn't have the most rugged neck on the market. Fortunately, the company has long since learned from this, meaning that the V-Factor's set joint now meets the body at the 17th fret, and feels like it should go the distance. Ultimately, the biggest danger you'll have to worry about with this style of guitar is that you'll spin around too fast and stick one of the elongated bouts through a window, or attempt to put it in a stand only to watch it fall straight out.
Technology marches on, and still nobody can devise an effective method for making the Flying V stay on your knee. Once we stood up and strapped it on, however, we soon forgave the V-Factor its practical shortcomings. Quite simply, this guitar makes you feel like a star, and more often than not, it lets you play like one too.
From finger tapping to legato, the neck profile and fretboard welcome - possibly even demand - fast and fruity technique. Undoubtedly, there's a certain amount of psychology at play here; the V-Factor looks flamboyant, so you want to play that way too.
The guitar's ceramic magnet humbuckers give it a slightly modern edge, and despite the scooped mid-range found here (inherent in most Flying Vs), the V-Factor is in-your-face and bright. When played clean, this makes the bridge pickup sound ever so slightly brittle; but when driven the treble response gives an aggressive and up-front tone that will easily cut through a mix. This striking sound is of course what we would expect from a V-shaped guitar sporting a mirror - the guitar's tone is thoroughly in-keeping with its looks.