The Gibson Flying V - My first 'real' guitar

The Gibson Flying V

My first 'real' guitar

Posted in Electric Guitars

I had been messing around with guitar for about six months when, in 1974, heard Wishbone Ash for the first time. Even then I was obsessed with great guitar sounds and wanted to know how they did it!. After investigating their guitars and amps, I swiftly set my sights on a Gibson Flying V. This is a story of love, loss and rediscovery.

I saw my guitar for the first time in the local guitar shop Harker & Howarth, Bolton. It was not a replica of the 1967 version that Andy Powell played, but a 1974 model with a natural wood finish, more rounded headstock and without the Maestro Vibrola tremolo - but it was a Flying V and it was beautiful.

My 18th birthday came and my mum and dad gave me the guitar. It was a moment of deep joy as I plugged it in for the first time (I had to wait for my presents then :).

Although I later acquired a 1976 Stratocaster and 1958 Epiphone Riviera, during the 70's and much of the 80's, it was my main guitar.

In the early 80's I did have trouble with the neck and took it to the mighty Ted Lee who plained the fingerboard and whilst at it fitted a vintage Vibrola and refinished in translucent cherry!

In the late 70's I foolishly changed the pickups for DiMarzio PAF's, which were all the rage, being one of the first companies to manufacture replacements. However, once I knew what I was doing, replaced these with specially wound Lindy Fralin 'PAF' Humbuckers which are also fitted to my Custom Telecaster built by Gordon Whittam.

With time, my tastes changed, making way for custom built guitars, with wider flatter necks and generally based around Telecasters. The 'V' ended up being used exclusively for slide, with a high tension (011-049) 'open E' tuning. It always sounded fantastic and was known as the 'Devil Guitar', but was too much of a contrast to my Fender style guitars to use live.

I used the Flying V for the slide solo on 'Preacher' and to 'thicken up' the track 'Princess', both from ThirtySix.

If you want to know more about the making of the album, why not take a look at the articles!

On the way to the Blues Club a couple of weeks ago I spotted the case under the shelf and on a whim, picked it up. It had on tired strings and 'slide high' action which I lowered quickly before setting off.

So, arriving at the Railway in Douglas I plugged it in to my Zen Drive and BlackFace Fender Pro Reverb. What a sound!!! I ended up using it all night.

Returning to the studio and after a bit of messing, found it is beautiful when combined with the Bludotone Bludodrive, Two Rock (EVM12L) and a set of D'Addario 11-49. The use of the heavier gauge was a direct influence from Davy Knowles - thanks mate!

I do think this guitar is at its best when played through a Marshall JTM45 and 4x12, so a Germino Classic 45 is the next on my ever expanding amp list :)

Last week used it on a gig and two sessions, one being 'Stars Look Cheap', the lead track for the next Truman Falls. It sounded fantastic, with bell like top end and distinctive mid range balls, very much like an SG.

When you wind up the volume the whole guitar vibrates and feeds back like no other, which I think is due to the pickups being mounted directly onto the scratch-plate. It' also easy to control using the tremolo arm.

So, welcome back my friend, to the show that never ends - I have really missed you.

Dad, I hope you are reading this in that big gig in the sky.

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The Gibson Flying V - My first 'real' guitar


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