The History of Gibson’s Flying V Guitar

With more than 15 years of experience as a project manager and analyst, Anthony Freddura serves as product owner and lead business systems analyst at Epsilon. Beyond his professional responsibilities, Anthony Freddura counts music and guitars among his primary hobbies.

The Flying V guitar is one of the most recognizable guitars ever created. Gibson started to develop the guitar in 1956, along with two other futuristic guitar designs meant to compete with Fender’s popular Stratocaster. Gibson’s Ted McCarty is credited with borrowing design elements from car models of the day, such as tailfins.

At first, the body of the Flying V was made out of mahogany, but it was deemed too heavy, so the designers substituted korina wood and streamlined the shape to look like a V. A designer is credited with calling the guitar a flying V for the first time. Two blues-guitar legends, Lonnie Mack and Albert King, were quickly drawn to the Flying V, helping its rise in popularity.

Not long after debuting the Flying V in its catalog for $247.50 in 1958, Gibson stopped producing the Flying V. The Flying V returned in 1966 with notable changes: a mahogany body, a stopbar tailpiece, and an enhanced pickguard. This model is the same design as the Flying Vs sold today – however, it too was discontinued, in 1970. Gibson briefly released another updated version of the Flying V, which it called the Flying V Medallion. In 1975, Gibson started consistently making and selling Flying Vs, as it does to this day.