Gibson’s new 80s Flying V and Explorer models party like it’s 1984 with ebony finishes and high output humbuckers

Gibson 80s Flying V (left) and 80s Explorer
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has announced the arrival of the 80s Flying V and 80s Explorer, both of which are designed to channel the looks and sounds of their 1984 predecessors. 

Both the Flying V and Explorer were originally debuted in 1958 and the two electric guitars shared a similar fate, in that they initially flopped before finding favor decades later in the hands of a younger audience. 

While their forward-thinking shapes might have proved a bit much for ‘50s crowds, by the early ‘80s guitarists of various stripes had rehabilitated the V and Explorer. Gibson soon realized the potential of the spiky models among the aggressive stylings of the heavy metal scene and issued new models equipped with super-hot Dirty Fingers humbuckers, in the hope of appealing to heavier players.

(Image credit: Gibson)

The play paid off and the V found a home with the likes of Kirk Hammett, Dave Mustaine, Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, Paul Stanley and the doyens of German rock, The Scorpions’ Rudolf Schenker and UFO’s Michael Schenker. 

The Explorer, meanwhile, found favor with The Edge, James Hetfield and The Scorpions' Matthias Jabs, among others, throughout the decade.

The new 80s Flying V and Explorer recreate a bit of that 1984-era metallic magic, using mahogany bodies and necks with SlimTaper profiles and rosewood fingerboards. They’re both loaded with Gibson’s new 80s Tribute humbuckers, which are said to “accurately capture the unique fat-toned sound and rich sustain of the models from that era.”

Gibson 80s Explorer

(Image credit: Gibson)

Both guitars are then finished in a (very metal) ebony nitrocellulose lacquer, and there are further nods to ’80s specs with the simple gold logo headstocks and the altered control layouts – notably positioned in a triangle format on the Explorer. 

It’s appropriate and, perhaps, entirely intentional – given he was one of the initial users of variants of both models – that it was Mustaine that first teased the arrival of the 80s Explorer and Flying V... 

The headstocks of the two new models appeared in an image he posted on Instagram last year, promoting the arrival of his 24-fret Explorer signature model and (new Kramer USA guitars), in the process. 

We’ve yet to see Mustaine’s signature Explorer drop, so perhaps that won’t be far behind…

The Gibson 80s Flying V and Explorer models both come with hardshell cases, and are available now for $2,499.

For more info on the models, head to Gibson.

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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.