Thursday, January 12, 2006

GuitArt - The Guitar Calendar - "The Jetsons"

The Jetson’s:
This is a Gibson Explorer. Back in 1957, Gibson had some beautifully made, but very traditional-looking guitars, and they wanted to compete with Fender’s more modern-styled Stratocaster, so, for 1958 they came up with the “Moderne” collection. Two wild ultra-modern futuristic styles. The "Flying V" and the "Explorer". These were a completely radical departure from conventional guitar design up to that point, and seemed to be something right out of the future.

Back then, in America, the whole nation was looking forward to a bright future. In 1958, there was never any doubt in anyone's mind that things would just keep getting better every year. Each year would be better than the last one. The space-race, satellites, and one day a trip to the moon. Cars of 1958 had big fins like rocket ships and tail lights that looked like afterburners. Everything was about modern space-age styles, and it reflected the unlimited hope and optimism of that age.

These two guitars were a symbol of that clean, hopeful, innocent, bright-eyed "holy gosh!” optimism. That’s what those two guitars represent to me. This one is called “The Jetson’s” because in the cartoon series of that name, there was a rock star called “Jet Screamer”. He played a wild-looking super-futuristic guitar with lots of angular fins. This guitar has fins like that. In fact, it also reminds me of the Cadillac cars of that time, so I also considered calling this guitar, “Cadillac”.

The original models of these guitars were too far ahead of their time in 1958, and so they didn’t sell, really. They only even made 82 original Flying V’s and 18 original Explorers. Then they discontinued them in 1958. They, of course, then later became quite valuable collector’s pieces since they were so rare. They became quite coveted after a while, and so Gibson re-issued the Explorer in 1976 but with better hardware and electronics than were possible in 1958. And this is a re-issue of that 1976 one.

It is beautifully made, and mine is in perfect condition. It is a deep mahogany body and neck with a high-gloss finish with rosewood fingerboard. It has a great overall sound, but especially sounds very good for a rockish and blues type sound. And it feels great to play – other than the big Cadillac fin sticking out behind me. I have to be careful where I walk around when playing this one.

I bought this one along with "Flash" the Flying V in spring of 2005. My original plan was to buy this and resell it for a profit on eBay, but once I saw it, and held it and played it, there was just no giving it away. It was just too nice.


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