An astonishingly rare Blue Silverburst Explorer, dot-neck 1959 ES-335 and short-lived ultra-luxe Casino alternative: Gibson’s latest Certified Vintage drop has our attention

Gibson Certified Vintage September 2023 electric guitar composite
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has announced its latest haul of Certified Vintage models, including a 1969 Gibson Crest, 1959 ES-335, 1968 Dove, 1984 Explorer, and 1987 Les Paul Custom.

While the headline instrument is undoubtedly the astonishingly clean dot-neck ’59 ES-335 (so called due to the dot inlays, but they’re prized for their neck profiles), it’s another model that’s caught our eye: a 1984 Gibson Explorer finished in Blue Silverburst.

The NOS (new old stock) Explorer was, like a lot of the best stuff to have featured in the Gibson Certified drops – including the incredible 1981 Futura prototype – found in storage at Gibson’s headquarters.

The finish is original and if you’re thinking you’ve not seen it before, well, you’re not alone. Gibson dubs it ultra-rare, but we’d say that’s an understatement. 

Sticklers will note the name ‘Blue Silverburst’ was used to describe the finish on Gibson’s much later (and highly divisive) first run of ‘Robot Guitars’ in 2011, but it was an entirely different look, with a much more pronounced blue – and, if we’re being catty, tackier for it.

Besides that, Blue Silverburst was basically never seen, so finding a different (much-nicer) version on an NOS ’84 Explorer that predates the Robot Guitar by nearly 30 years is pretty special. 

“Its many years in storage resulted in some light checking in the lacquer,” notes the firm. “But it is otherwise in like-new condition.”

It is a nice testament to a lost bit of Gibson history and a prime example of the Certified Vintage program’s unique ability to throw these sort of guitar history curveballs. 

Elsewhere in the collection, our eye is drawn to the 1969 Crest. This model is better documented than the existence of Blue Silverburst (in that we knew it was a thing) but still extremely rare.

Pitched as a luxe alternative to an ES-335 (and costing twice as much), it was produced from 1969 to 1972, with just 208 said to have been made in total across that period. What’s more, only 56 were made in 1969.

Players are ultimately split on the Crest’s performance, but it is a stunning looker, featuring a fully hollow body (a la the ES-330 or Epiphone Casino) that was lavishly constructed in its entirety from rosewood, plus a pair of floating Johnny Smith pickups.

Heading down the list you’ll find a 1987 NOS Gibson Les Paul Custom in Honeyburst. It is, we’re told, so ‘NOS’ that it still has the plastic on the pickguard. 

Finally, this drop is also notable for marking the first inclusion of an acoustic guitar in the form of a 1968 Dove. A spiritual early-’60s sibling of the Hummingbird, this square-shouldered dreadnought has flame maple back/sides and a Sitka spruce top. 

This one is a little more well-worn, but we love that scratchplate artwork – and Gibson notes that the ’68s were the only batch to feature screwed-down pickguards, adding an extra whiff of scarcity into the package.

In a new interview, coming next week, Guitar World spoke to Agnesi, about the Certified Vintage program and his strategy for putting each drop together.

“I like to try and curate each one of those drops so that there's something for everyone in there,” says Agnesi. “I always like to have one blue chip collector, massive ‘Golden Era’ thing go in there. And then I always like to have the – forgive me – ‘entry level’ $10,000 thing, and I like to always have one NOS cool thing or a prototype in there.”

That strategy has certainly been played out in this recent drop, with the Blue Silverburst occupying the ‘NOS cool thing or prototype’ slot. The dot-neck 335, meanwhile, is undoubtedly the blue chip collector’s item.

While we’re on blue chip Certified Vintage guitars, Kirk Hammett’s 1960 Les Paul Standard ‘Sunny’ is reportedly still available – if you have a spare $500,000…

For more information on the latest drop, head to Gibson Certified Vintage.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.