Welcome to the second edition of the weirdest guitars Gibson has ever produced. As we inch closer to my favorite time of the year and Halloween, I was thinking about oddball things that stick out from the norm and make a statement. Some of the guitars we saw last week are ones you don’t see everyday and are against the grain from the typical Les Paul or SG we are used to; and this week gets even crazier!
Let’s take a look at the 5 most bizarre Gibson guitars that roam the earth!
Ok, so this one isn’t too bizarre, but you definitely won’t see too many of this particular model floating around anytime soon. Like I mentioned last week, around the late 50’s, the next big guitar company had a large shadow that began to loom over Gibson, prompting president Ted McCarty to release a line of “futuristic guitars that would change the course of the company.” The Futura was the prototype model that would become the Gibson Explorer which is still in production today and used by many notable musicians. The Futura had a similar body shape with crazy points jutting out in every direction, but it had a split-horn headstock which are typically seen on metal shredder’s guitars like Dean or B.C. Rich. Good luck getting your hands on one of these bad boys because as of 2014, there were only three known to exist!
Gibson Map Guitar
Picture an entire map of the United States, but with strings on it… seriously. The pickup toggle switch is nestled somewhere in California, with the dials stretched out in a row with the tail piece hanging out in the New Mexico/Colorado vicinity, and so on. It literally is a map guitar. It seems like one of those ideas that you and your friends have at three in the morning after some recreational activities that never goes into fruition. But Gibson actually produced this. As we saw in part one, the 80’s were a very experimental time for the company as they were in a ‘what the heck’ kind of mood just to see what sold. The Map was built in 1983 and comes in a natural wood-looking color as well as a stars and stripes model. With the tips of Texas and Florida rested in between your leg, you can jam on the United States for about two-three thousand dollars, if you can find one.
Gibson Firebird X
With this next one, Joe Bonamassa’s tune “Cust Cos’ You Can, Don’t Mean You Should” from his new album Redemption distinctly comes to mind. Back in the early 2000’s when various companies were experimenting with the capabilities of technology, Gibson wanted in the game and began putting whatever they came up with into their guitars. This warranted new gadgets like robot tuners (tuners that automatically tune the guitar on its own); a concept that blew up in Gibson’s face in 2016 when they released a line of newly designed robotic tuners on guitars, needless to say they quickly got rid of these. The models also featured different digital output systems and piezo pickups to get different sounds out of the instrument. In 2011, the company released the Firebird X, a flashy, odd-bodied instrument that combined all of the features of its futuristic brethren and then some. It had the robot tuners, coil-tapping humbuckers (can be switched to Fender-like single coils), a bunch of on-board effects like eq, delay, reverb, and more, and also came with a spiffy bag and foot controllers. To say this was slightly ahead of its time would be an understatement; even now guitars that require an extensive manual aren’t desired by the consumer. In some realms, new isn’t always better and we prefer old-school vintage models.
If you remember, the president of Gibson in the late 50’s, Ted McCarty had some very unique ideas to rival the Fender Strat and Telecaster. One of these beasts was the 1957 Moderene which was conceptualized along with the Flying V and the Futura, which you can see by the kinda-V kinda pointed body shape. The headstock is also very curious; I can’t even describe what it looks like. Once the Flying V seemed to do well and the Futura was redesigned into the successful Explorer, Gibson decided to scrap the Moderne. Then in 1982, the Norlin-owned company decided to resurrect the Moderene and put it into production for only one year. Even now, “he hypothetical 1958 Moderne has been called the “mythical great white whale” of collectible guitars.” In an attempt to resurface this guitar, Gibson re-released it in 2012 and it has been in production ever since. Maybe the third time is the charm for the Moderne.
Art piece, instrument, can opener, or all the above? You decide! This odd bird is the Gibson Corvus, once again a brilliant Norlin concoction. Actually, this guitar was originally designed to look like a crow in flight… nailed it! Between 1982 and 84, Gibson released three different versions of the guitar with various pickup configurations. Needless to say this awkward-looking instrument did not sell well and ended up in the rejected pile.