TheMoMI.org -- Museum of Musical Instruments
(Back to theMoMI.org Home)






   In the postwar prosperity of the '50s, industrial designers sought a modern look in everything from toasters to teacups, and guitars were not immune to this trend. Gibson president Ted McCarty (born 1909) designed a trio of futuristic guitars to appeal to younger players, who were typically opting for his competitor's products. The instruments were to be made out of African limba, an excellent tone wood that Gibson marketed as Korina. Only two models of the "Korina Trio" (Flying V, Explorer, and Moderne) went into production in 1958, and those in very limited numbers. The Moderne (looking like an asymmetrical Flying V with one short leg) was apparently never produced. Whether it was the space race or the fins on a Cadillac that inspired the creation of the Flying V (pronounced vee), its aeronautic shape and pointed headstock definitely suggest motion and excitement. Dealers loved having them on display, but the radical new look was just too bizarre for most players, and many went unsold, leading Gibson to discontinue the model after two years. Bluesmen Albert King and Lonnie Mack adopted the Vee into their musical arsenals, but the peculiar shape ultimately appealed mainly to rock guitarists of the 1970s and '80s, resulting in many reissues of the models by Gibson and countless copies by others. Far from ergonomic, the balance of the Flying V feels strange, and the sloping lower edge readily slides off a seated player's knee, causing some examples to be outfitted with a corrugated rubber pad on this surface.



Close Window