Gibson unleashes its stoner-ist Flying V yet. How does it stack up? By Peter Hodgson
The Flying V has gone through plenty of permutations over the years. It makes sense when you think about just how versatile it is: it looks great for blues, metal, rock, southern rock, stoner, thrash, doom - hell, there are even country players who dig it - and the Flying V means something different to all of them. The Gibson USA Flying V T 2017 Ebony feels like it’s inspired by a curious combo of the late ‘70s and the current doom/stoner movement. How? Read on.
GET YOUR FINGERS DIRTY
Unlike some Flying V variants, which can be particularly blinged-out affairs, the 2017 model looks very stripped back and practical. The ebony-finished mahogany body has no binding, the pickups are uncovered, and the fingerboard has simple dot inlays instead of trapezoids or blocks. It feels very road-ready.
The body and neck are both solid mahogany, with a thick grenadillo fingerboard. This material gives you a very similar sound to rosewood, but it looks a little more reddish and it catches light really nicely. Some players aren’t fans of this, however, and there’s a perception that grenadillo wood is used as a cost-cutting measure, but I urge everyone to try it and make up their own minds because it certainly has its own strengths and visual character.
There’s a TekToid nut, aluminium Tune-o-Matic bridge with steel thumbwheels, aluminium stop bar with steel posts, Grover kidney tuners, and a simple control complement of two volumes, one master tone and a standard three-way pickup selector toggle switch. The neck is a comfortable Flying V SlimTaper design. The pickups are a pair of Gibson Dirty Fingers humbuckers - very high-powered buggers designed to handle anything from blues to punk, hard rock, metal, doom and stoner styles.
V FOR VICTORY
This guitar sounds as no-nonsense as it looks. The Dirty Fingers sounds very fat but also has good cut in the high end, and it handles lower tunings exceptionally well. In the bridge position you can generate a very satisfying thunk with palm-muted chugs, but it’s also a real screamer for lead work, and it has a lot of character for cleans. It’s not the greatest, most versatile clean tone ever, but it works really well for those ‘calm before the storm’ moments - right before you stomp on a fuzzbox and obliterate the front row.
The neck pickup has great sustain, and it’s perfect for those big middle-of-the-neck power chords or epic Schenker-esque melodies; it’s pretty cool for slide, too. It may be a little muffled for the majority of clean work, but it’s really great when played through stupid amounts of gain.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This isn’t a bluesman’s Flying V unless they really push it far into blues rock. It’s not a thrasher’s V either because it’s a little too fat and dark, but if your tastes fall to vintage metal, stoner or doom styles, there’s so much to love about how this guitar plays, sounds, looks and feels.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Mahogany body
• Mahogany neck
• Grenadillo fretboard
• Gibson Dirty Fingers ceramic humbuckers
• Grover kidney tuners
• No nonsense
• Great neck
• Not the most versatile Gibson ever
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