How Gibson leaned into the ‘50s modernist zeitgeist and created the Explorer – and changed the shape of electric guitars to come

Gibson Explorer
(Image credit: Photo courtesy of Paige Davidson)

In 1958, a landmark year for Gibson, the company released a slew of now classic designs. These included the ES-335 and ES-355 semi-hollow thinlines; the EB-2 thinline bass; the revamped sunburst Les Paul Standard; and the double-cutaway Les Paul TV and Junior models. 

Also joining the class of ’58 was Gibson’s new “Modernistic” solidbodies, the Flying V and Explorer. There was a third variant designed alongside them, the Moderne, although this guitar never made it into production until 1982. 

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.