06 June 2012

Gibson V-Factor X Flying V

There are some subtle differences between Gibson's Flying V model over the years.
It's particularly nasty when trying to verify whether a certain model is most likely to be a real Gibson only having access to pictures of said guitar.
So I've been trying to find information on the intertubez on a particular V from 2008 (according to the serial number), it looks genuine enough but there's something strange about it: the head stock looks different from the V pictured on gibson.com.
So, is it real? Refinished? Maybe a rebranded Epiphone / Chibson ... ?

Here's a picture of the guitar:

This is a regular Flying V:

Same head stock as the one I've been trying to find info on:

You'll notice the head stock on the 2nd one is sharper.
Problem solved, right? Nope, because the guitar's finish is ebony.
The red one is a 'faded cherry' finish, which basically is Gibson selling a genuine Gibson for the price of a decent Epiphone as far as I can see.
Anyways, could it be a refinished one?
Doesn't look like it plus the guitar comes with a hard case, while the faded cherry ones come with a gigbag.
It does bear an uncanny resemblance with the Epiphone version of the '69 V though, but the tuners are genuine Gibson and the nut is different as well.

A couple Google searches later and I found this jem:

(Source: http://axestaticprocess.com/2011/09/19/get-monte-pittmans-flying-v/)

Exactly like the one I'm researching except for the hardware and pickups.
The site says they owned changed it, so fine but I still didn't quite know which guitar this is.

The mystery V was advertised as being a 2008 '68 flying V re-issue but all the images on Google show a regular V, not the pointy head stock one.

Anyways, long story short: the pointy ebony one is a Gibson V-Factor X Flying V.
Yes, seriously.
Gibson apparently tried to 1337-en up their guitars, so they briefly named the Flying V the V-Factor X and the Explorer the X-Plorer.
This is what Gibson have to say about it:

"The neck on Gibson’s V-Factor X has the best of both worlds—it is a hybrid between the ’50s rounded contour and the ’60s slim-taper profile."
"Whether it’s the regular Flying V, or the Gibson V-Factor X, the solid mahogany body provides tone, sustain, and performance."
"On the flipside, warm up the cutting tone of the bridge P-90 on your SG Specialby using a more rounded pick, or take some of the aggression out of the high-gain pickups of your V-Factor X by using a thinner pick for a smoother, more compressed rhythm tone."

So nothing really usable, no archive product pages, no nothing.
Attempts to look at how gibson.com looked like in 2007 through archive.org simply fail as Gibson has a robots.txt in place. Thanks Gibson!
No product catalogs to be found either so I decided trying to find the same guitar on a webshop somewhere to verify there was, in fact, a time where the standard Flying V's had that type of head stock.
After a bit (hah!) of Googl'ing I found these:
That's the one! Finally a shop which took the effort of actually taking a picture of the instrument they're selling instead of just using the same one over and over again.
Right, so now we know it at least exists and isn't a fake (although there's always the possibility a store is selling an obvious fake, but let's assume they're legit).

A bit more Googl'ing resulted in 2 NGD's on random forums and a couple more links:

http://www.in2guitar.com/flyingv.html: Nice picture of the pointyness
http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q53/joolzriff/SuperHawk002-1.jpg (from http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=250162)
http://www.musicradar.com/gallery/reviews/v-factor-x-157224/1: "The classic arrowhead headstock remains" - No, not really.

So although I haven't been able to find pictures of that actual model on a page hosted on gibson.com, I'm pretty confident it's, in fact, real.

Now if only Gibson would provide archives of their site (ESP does) or answer email ...

Edit: some picture links were dead, fixed that.