One of those axes that were just ahead of their time, the Gibson Flying V took a little while to be appreciated for its radical, made-for-rockin' design. The prototype, made of korina wood, was built in 1957 courtesy of designer Ted McCarty as part of a line of guitars along with the Futura and the Moderne, that was intended to add a more futuristic aspect to Gibson's image. The line was Introduced commercially in 1958 made of mahogany and rounded in the back. Sales were poor, and the line was discontinued in 1959. Gibson then changed the back, making it cut out instead of rounded which made it lighter. Thus changed, blues-rock guitarist Lonnie Mack and blues legend Albert King started using the guitar immediately. By the mid-late sixties artists including Ray Davies of The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix used them looking for a distinctive looking and powerful sounding instrument. This created new interest in the guitar, prompting Gibson to re-issue the model in mahogany with a larger, more stylish pickguard and a stopbar bridge similar to the company's other guitars changed from the original bridge which strung the guitar from the back. Some models featured a short Vibrola Maestro tremelo arm. This became the standard for all future Flying V guitars made by the company. Like all Gibson guitars the headstock is angled at 17 degrees for optimal string tension an sustain.
The guitar became a mainstay in rock circles with many other guitar companies offering variations on its design. The 1957-1958 korina wood models are one of the most valuable collector guitars in the world, worth between $200,000 and $250,000. A bass version was introduced in 1981 with only 375 being produced.
To follow are some notable Flying V users.