I’ll come right out an say it: you gotta have cajones to play the Gibson Flying V. I would not recommend this as a first guitar or as an axe for someone with a little stage fright.
This beast gets looks.
Yeah, it’s true that Albert King was one of the early adopters of the Gibson Flying V (he played it upside down too), but when most people see the V they think Rock and they think Metal.
There are exceptions, but if you’re talking general consensus here, people are a lot more likely to think Kirk Hammett than Lonnie Mack when they “see the V!”
Birth of a (different breed of) Legend
Like a lot of good things, the V was way ahead of it’s time. Gibson had only sold 100 of ‘em a year after it came out, so they stopped making them for almost ten years!
But tastes eventually caught up and those original Flying Vs now sell for tens of thousands. Talk about staying power, this rocker recently turned 50.
Prime Players of the Flying V:
- Albert King
- Jimi Hendrix
- Kirk Hammett
Gibson Flying V Review
So you know this thing gets looks, how about the sound?
Gibson put a pair of humbuckers in the Flying V for a very full, fat tone. The guitar has a 3 way toggle switch pickup selector, a volume knob for each pickup, and one tone knob (who uses tone knobs anyway?).
I’m always surprised when I play a gig or just jam out with V at how thick and full the tone is. I mean, this guitar is shaped so much differently than most and at first glance you might think the tone would be thin. Not so.
Playing the Gibson Flying V live is awesome. The looks will turn everyone’s head, and the neck is surprisingly thin and fast. The neck tends to be little heavy and can get away from you, which I really can’t stand. The last thing you want to be worried about onstage is holding neck up.
Practicing or recording with the V is a different story. I really don’t dig the way you have to place the bottom of the V on your leg, it creates an awkward vertical position for the guitar that makes it hard to get the “perfect take.” You can’t sit the guitar on your leg like most guitars, but you do get used to this after a while. It’s just one of those things that makes you go “what?” when you first sit down with it.
All things considered, I think the Flying V is an awesome addition to your guitar arsenal because of the killer look and fat humbucker tone. It’s not the most versatile or comfortable axe on the planet, but it’s not supposed to be!
I love the V for what it is: a Guitar for the Fearless.