A 1958 Flying V Korina: the myth, legend and first 'modernist guitar' at Matt's Guitar Shop!

It's a legendary guitar from the history of music that has joined Matt's Guitar Shop: an original Gibson Flying V from 1958, the so-called "Virginia V"!

With the Flying V, forget the angles and rounded curves of electric guitars and enter the era of "modernist guitars" with spectacular lines! With only 81 guitars leaving the Gibson factory in 1958 and 17 in 1959, the Gibson Korina Flying V is one of the rarest and most sought-after guitars. It is one of the most instantly recognisable models and one of the most copied designs ever.

There are very few guitars that are capable of provoking a revolution, both aesthetically and sonically, and of being an object of avant-garde design. Such was the case with the Flying V, which Gibson called the "modernist guitars" when they were introduced with the Explorer and the Moderne.

In 1958, just as the Les Paul Standard was reaching its peak and building the myth of the Burst, a new guitar was announced, far more irreverent and daring than its predecessors: the Flying V. When it was announced on the market in 1958, with its futuristic and enigmatic name, it impressed and completely overturned the expectations of an electric guitar. The market was then dominated by models with more accepted shapes, and the latest revolution was the Stratocaster, which introduced a new, practical shape. With this sharp design, completely at odds with the instruments of the time, Gibson didn't expect such a reaction... Firstly a silent one.

81 Flying Vs were produced in 1958, and 17 in 1959. It was abandoned by buyers in favour of other models, and did not really take off until several years later. Most shops had little success with Gibson's 'difficult' new model, and production was halted in 1959.

Shaking up the established order, this guitar shattered the hitherto accepted shapes of guitars for a top with precise, sharp angles: no cutaway sides or roundness on this guitar, but two points protruding from the top. The Flying V's design uses dramatic straight lines instead of traditional curves, and the headstock takes the shape of the body in miniature - a revolutionary twist on Gibson's traditional three-sided tuner design. The Gibson catalogue stated that the V was made from the finest Korina wood, making it look almost like a Fender blonde.

Today, it's an electric guitar legend, an example of daring and inventiveness. The Vs have achieved legendary status, shunned when they first came out and now regarded as brilliant avant-garde creations. Original Flying Vs from their first year of production are rare and particularly coveted. Today, there are well under 80 of them, and they continue to arouse fantasy, fascination and admiration in the face of such boldness. 

History has brought this daring guitar back into the minds of guitarists and collectors alike, with artists such as Dave Davies and Jimi Hendrix turning it into a creative tool and a recognisable visual identity. This renewed public interest prompted Gibson to launch a revised version of the Flying V in 1966. Since then, many guitarists have discovered the qualities of this guitar, now recognised as a wonderful classic. But it almost didn't make it past a brief two-year run that, from Gibson's point of view, looked like a failure.

The 'Virginia V' was the fifteenth guitar in Gibson's 1958 shipment list, sent to Virginia on 30 April 1958. The rest is history... which continues to be written at Matt's Guitar Shop!

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