This fascinating collaboration between Epiphone and Gibson's legendary Custom Shop has produced faithful reproductions of two of the most brilliant and radical guitars of all time

The Explorer is an excellent recreation of a classic, with powerful sounds that are worth far more than its modest price and great playability. The Flying V looks great, evokes an atmosphere and era like no other guitar and also has fantastic, authentic blues-rock tones.


When Gibson president Theodore "Ted" McCarty designed the ES-335 and his brothers in 1958, with the development of the ES-345 and ES-355, it became clear that their knowledge of electronic guitar design was profound. The models were an immediate success and the uninterrupted production from then until today proves this more than ever. So how come the same designer invented these two in the same year?

Beyond the basic electronics, the Explorer and Flying V couldn't be more different. Of course, this was the "space age" era and Fender already had models called Stratocaster and Telecaster that evoked cosmic adventures and everything revolutionary and modern. It therefore seemed that Gibson was also trying to gain its market share.

But while sales of the 300 series soared, the Flying V failed. intention to establish itself on the market. race track, and the Explorer barely made it through the gates of 225 Parsons Street in Kalamazoo, the automaker's legendary home in Michigan.

It's true that the mighty Albert King used a V, but apparently it was only because a guitar shop was low on stock that they used it. affordable price. good price and be symmetrical. In this form, I could simply return it. Jazz guitarist and musical innovator Alvino Rey also played an explorer. For the rest, the great duo seemed destined for the dustbin of posterity.

But then, as inevitably happens in the world of the guitar, things went wrong. . When the then-discontinued Les Paul fell into the hands of blues-rock celebrities in the mid-1960s and became the guitar of the era, the model's rarity led players to seek other Gibsons with the same powerful pickups and controls. intuitive.

And while the ES-335 and SG tend to be the popular "second choice", rhythm and blues stars Keith Richards and Dave Davies of the Kinks and Bluesmen Lonnie Mack and Johnny Winter fell in love with the original 1958 Flying Vs. Eric Clapton used a 1958 Explorer in the 1970s, while Neil Young and Billy Gibbons rocked these two avant-garde newcomers.

These models are now so rare and sought after that if you find a Flying V or an Explorer 58 in your attic, you can trade it for a Ferrari F8 Spider for 300,000, if you want, you can exchange US dollars.

65 years later, at the pinnacle of a phenomenal range of instruments, Epiphone offers faithful interpretations of these now iconic models at attractive prices. Let's see how they behave.

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As far as construction goes, it's simple. Two pieces of solid korina form the body, a single piece forms the neck (the blades of both are finely decorated). On the original V, Gibson added a small lip extending under the neck to support it, as there was little wood on either side of the body to support it. Epiphone reproduced it perfectly. The fingerboards are made of Indian laurel, an attractive replacement for the rosewood found in many mid-range guitars.

Although the electronics of both instruments are identical, the Their designs, dictated by the individual lines of each guitar, are very different. The Explorer's three-way pickup selector switch is located on the lower protruding speaker, while the Flying V is located next to the neck pickup volume control. Both guitars forgo the usual independent tone control for each pickup, opting for a single master.

The V's port is on a separate white circular plate at the end of its lower "wing", while the Explorer's port is on the large rear , the other at the end is a handle button (the other is on the upper "shoulder" of the body, while on the V one is on the upper wing and the other is positioned as its stablemate). 

Our Explorer features the traditional Gibson/Epiphone bridge and tailpiece assembly (the excellent LockTone tune-o-matic system is found on both guitars), while The Flying V is tied via a delta-shaped metal plate that carries the six-pronged strings to the back of the guitar.

The tuners on both instruments are Epiphone Deluxe Kluson with plastic "tulip" buttons, while the Explorer has the company logo inlaid with pearls, but that's how it works. a stick. -on a plastic plate in the V, as was the case with the 1950s original.

As mentioned, Epiphone hasn't skimped on the electronics, with the The V and Explorer share Gibson Burstbucker 2 (neck) and Burstbucker 3 (bridge) humbuckers, as well as CTS pots, Mallory capacitors, and a Switchcraft three-way jack and lever. That's all correct.

Feel & Sounds

Due to the huge areas of solid wood, you can expect our Korina duo to weigh a ton. Far from there. When Gibson built the original models, Limba was apparently chosen not only for its looks but also for its lighter weight, certainly more so than the company's usual first choice, mahogany.

It also appears that Gibson changed the name of the wood to "Korina" because it sounded more exotic. Weighing just 2.91kg (6.4lb) and 2.92kg (6.5lb) respectively, our Flying V and Explorer fit comfortably around your neck without causing balance issues despite their bulky size; These strap button positions were well chosen.

But although our V has the same rubber strip as the original Gibson, it is to prevent slipping. leg. This doesn't work very well while sitting. But hey, is this the first thing a guitarist thinks of when he chooses something as extravagant as this?

The necks of both guitars are almost identical. Featuring the design of the 1958 originals, they have a central C that fits perfectly in the palm of the hand. With the keys almost completely exposed (the V is a little higher than on the Explorer), there are clearly no restrictions for high-end excursions.

These 22 Medium jumbo frets and 12" (305 mm) fingerboard radius allow for effortless bending and vibrato, while the top edge allows for easy bending up to the second octave.

Switching directly from a Stratocaster or Les Paul onto one of these requires some adjustment to your posture.But then again, since we know how good these will sound, we think most players would work a little harder.

Read More: Learn How to Play the Guitar for beginners

Acoustics, with lots of solids like that wood here and Gibson Burstbucker units powered by a Marshall Origin 20, at full throttle and half power, we expected a great sound. The Flying V was first and it was big and classic, punchy Gibson brute force from the bridge pickup, melodic flutes from the neck and, in this case, an instant Albert King with both burstbuckers.

If both are maxed but the neck unit is reduced to 8, it will be huge. The guitar works exactly as expected, except for the master tone, which means you can't preset each pickup or switch between completely different tones and volumes.

Connect Explorer and… wow, what is this? Instant controlled feedback and instantly clearer, more powerful sound. Given the same pickup heights and everything else the same, could it just be the classic Explorer bridge and V-string tailpiece? Also, the mass of each guitar will be slightly different, so perhaps that is a factor. But in combat, the Ranger does the same thing as its arrow-shaped companion, but with an added X factor. We didn't expect that!

Both guitars are easy to clean. Lowering any of the volume controls creates a range of warm musical voices that contrast with the aggressive image of the instruments.


Epiphone has hit the target again. Working with the Gibson Custom Shop has definitely paid off and the use of cutting edge components makes a big difference too. These tools evoke something few can accomplish. Their attitude is second to none and the players they have signed are some of the best to ever grace the boards.

Think of Ted McCarty: they weren't just his The 1958 designs are pure genius, in retrospect they were decades ahead of their time

Yet we loved them both, and Flying V is what wrote this review. Of course, love would like, for his associations, the day when the explorer had something more. It's not "better" and we would say that the V is the most understated and that the Explorer simply lacks restraint. Different strokes for different people, maybe that describes it best.

These guitars make a real statement and will definitely not be hanging on shop walls like the supposed Albert King original. It was, especially at that price. So if you can, we recommend visiting your local guitar shop and trying them both out. And when you draw shapes in front of the store's big mirror, you might think of Ted McCarty: His 1958 designs were not only pure genius, but in retrospect, they were ahead of their time.

Types & Specs

Epiphone Korina 1958 Explorer

Epiphone 1958 Korina Explorer (White Pickguard) Natural (ETA September  2023) - Guitar Village

  • PRICE: $1,299 / £1,219 (inc guitar case)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Offset solidbody electric
  • BODY: 2-piece korina
  • NECK: Korina, glued-in
  • SCALE LENGTH: 628mm (24.75”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: GraphTech/43.2mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Gold-plated LockTone tune-o-matic ABR-1-style bridge and stud tailpiece, Epiphone Deluxe vintage-style tuners
  • ELECTRICS: Gibson Burstbucker 2 (neck) and Burstbucker 3 (bridge),
  • 2x CTS volume pots and 1x CTS tone pot, Mallory capacitor, Switchcraft 3-way pickup selector and output jack
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.92/6.5
  • OPTIONS: None
  • FINISH: Aged Natural – satin

Epiphone Korina 1958 Flying V

Epiphone Korina Flying V W/White Pickguard & Case, Left Handed | Long &  McQuade

  • PRICE: $1,299 / £1,219 (including case)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Offset solidbody electric
  • BODY: 2-piece korina
  • NECK: Korina, glued-in
  • SCALE LENGTH: 628mm (24.75”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: GraphTech/43.2mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Gold-plated LockTone ABR-1-style tune-o-matic bridge and through-body stringing via gold V-shaped plate into rear ferrules, Epiphone Deluxe vintage-style tuners
  • ELECTRICS: Gibson Burstbucker 2 (neck) and Burstbucker 3 (bridge), 2x CTS volume pots and 1x CTS tone pot, Mallory capacitor, Switchcraft 3-way pickup selector and output jack
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.91/6.4
  • FINISH: Aged Natural – satin