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Gibson Flying V Guitar

Updated on June 4, 2011

Traditionalists in the music world may not have jumped on the Gibson Flying V band wagon in 1958, but there are probably a few guitar players and collectors who wish they had. This attention-getting instrument, the Gibson Flying V electric guitar, carried a price tag of $247.50, plus $75 for the case. That was a significant amount of cash at the time. But those who have held onto one of the early "Vs" or who purchased one a few years later, now hold a Gibson Flying V electric that is worth a bit more than the original price, even if you figure in 50 years of inflation.

According to the respected manual, Blue Book of Electric Guitars by S.P. Fjestad, the 1958 Gibson Flying V guitar "had very limited manufacture (estimated to be under 100 instruments). Original Flying Vs exhibiting some wear and no problems" have brought sale prices in the $40,000 range. That number will probably rise as years pass.

Gibson Flying V Guitar

Of course, the first trick is to find a Gibson Flying V guitar for sale. Not only is this an instrument with a unique look, it is also a nice guitar to play. The design has survived for 50 years and Gibson still offers a Flying V '98 Gothic, first introduced in 1998. This newest model has two '57 style humbucking pickups with no covers, according to Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars. Look also for the moon-and -star inlay at the 12th fret.

That guide also advises those looking for something slightly different in the Flying V line to be aware of the change to mahogany body in about 1965. The very early vintage Gibson Flying V guitar had a korina body (African limba wood). Some Vs from 1965 through 1970 had a shorter peghead than the 1958 model, Gruhn states. A quick count of records, as cited by Gruhn and Fjestad, turns up about 600 Gibson Flying V guitars of the original style made between 1958 and 1974.

flying V Jimi Hendrix limited edition

The guitar went through a lot of changes over the years, from the Flying V I/83 with alder body and the Flying V 400/400+ to the reissue 1967 Gibson Flying V (1990) with mahogany body, chrome-plated hardware and knobs in a triangular pattern. The Gibson Flying V '67 was just one of several reissue models, a list that includes the Gibson Flying V faded, Jimi Hendrix '69 flying V Custom, the Gibson Flying V Gothic and even a Lonnie Mack Flying V. 

While it is a task to find a cheap Gibson Flying V, there are affordable models out there. The Blue Book of Electric Guitars shows a model simply known as "The V" (1983) could be purchased for around $850 just a few years ago. The seller will probably want a bit more than that now, but some are available in the $900 range. If you are looking for Gibson Flying V new, retailers offer such models as the Gibson Flying V Faded 3 pickup for about $900. Colors vary from the white Gibson Flying V to the black-and-pink model featured on the Vs own Web site.

reverse flying V

You can buy a left-handed Gibson Flying V, though some retailers are cutting back on availability of this model. If you're thinking along the lines of a Gibson Flying V bass, you might try to find a 1981 model. Less than 400 were made. Last but certainly not least, there is the Gibson reverse Flying V. Retail price on these models hold steady at around $1,600 to $2,000.

Sources show that Flying Vs from 1958 through about 1961 will have a five-digit or six-digit number inked on the back of the peghead. The first number, "8" for instance, indicates year. But it's always best to take some time when dating any older guitar, or when setting a price. Serial number information is sometimes a bit sketchy.

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      Deky 4 years ago

      A good basic , all-aronud guitar to begin on is a Mexican Fender Stratocaster. You can get one new for under $ 500 and a used one for aronud $ 350. The Start is great because you can play almost any style on it. On a side note, I've played acoustic guitar for 18 years and just bought my first electric, a Mexican Fender Strat. It is a beautiful guitar, plays well, and sounds pretty good. However, playing electric guitar is totally different from playing an acoustic. The approach is different, the attack is different, and you need to become familiar with amps, pedals, etc. Good luck whatever you decide.

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      Ethan 6 years ago

      I love Gisbons...especially the Flying V!

    • Cithigibvee profile image

      Cithigibvee 7 years ago

      Awesome article, Julie Ann. I have one of the '97 models and have loved every minute of it. I love the detail you've given and the obvious research of your material. Keep up the good work.

    • EOCedeno profile image

      EOCedeno 8 years ago from Mactan Island,Cebu,Philippines

      I got a Flying V and still playing the guitar but not as loud as when I first bought it. Nice info on this model!

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Nice blog!

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      Bob 8 years ago

      Hello Julie-Ann. Thanks for the Flying V blog. The Hendrix model is wild. But, not as wild as the reverse V. Please visit my blog about Les Pauls. I'd love feedback.