Gibson Explorer

Gibson Explorer

Infobox Guitar model|title=Gibson Explorer


manufacturer=Gibson
period=1958-1959, discontinued, then re-issued since 1975.
bodytype=Solid
necktype=Set
scale=24.75"
woodbody=Originally ('58-'63) korina, later models mahogany, alder, maple, or korina
woodneck=Originally ('58-'63) korina, reissues mahogany, maple, or korina
woodfingerboard=Rosewood or Ebony (Classic White only)
bridge=Tune-o-matic
pickups=2 Humbuckers
colors=Ebony, Cherry, Classic White, Natural

The Gibson Explorer (now marketed as X-plorer and Explorer Pro) is a type of electric guitar. The Explorer made its debut in 1958 under the name Futura, before being redesigned and renamed that same year. The Explorer offered a radical, "futuristic" body design, much like its sibling, the Flying V.

The Explorer's initial run was unsuccessful, and the model was discontinued in 1959. In 1976, Gibson began reissuing the Explorer after other guitar companies had success selling similar designs. The Explorer became especially popular among the hard rock and heavy metal musicians of the 1970s and 1980s.

Highly valued

Gibson produced very few Explorers during the 1958 run of the original Korina wood model. Because production records are unclear, it is not known exactly how many were made, but the original run total has been estimated at less than 50. [Walter Carter, "Gibson's Explorer", Vintage Guitar vol. 13 no. 5 (Feb. 1999), p. 104-105.] The extreme rarity of this guitar has increased its value significantly and made original Explorers with verifiable provenance highly prized among collectors, with values well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. [See Alan Greenwood, Gil Hembree, "The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide (2008 ed.)", p. 92 (Hal Leonard Corp. 2007).]

Since the early 1960s, the Explorer has a long drooping headstock with the tuners placed in a straight line on one side (referred sometimes as "banana" and "hockey-stick"). This design has been popularized by Grover Jackson, founder of Jackson Guitars and other electric guitar makers such as Kramer and Hamer 20 years later. However, the earlier Explorers (better known as Futura) made between 1957 and 1960 featured an unusual "split"-shaped head with the tuners placed in a standard 3+3 arrangement.

Explorer variations

There have been several variants produced by Gibson. These include several smaller-bodied, more "user friendly" versions such as the X-Plorer Studio; the Matthias Jabs designed Explorer 90 (named so because it was 90% the body size of a regular Explorer), and the Explorer Pro, introduced in 2007. In 1979, Gibson introduced the E2 model (also known as the Explorer II), featuring a 5 piece walnut/maple laminated construction and a contoured body. This model was discontinued after 1983. [See Alan Greenwood, Gil Hembree, "The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide (2006 ed.)", p. 85 (Hal Leonard Corp. 2005).] Gibson also produced a range of Explorer models between 1981 and 1984 with high-output "Dirty Fingers" pickups, maple neck and body, and a bound figured maple top available in natural, cherry sunburst, or vintage (tobacco) sunburst finishes: these were alternately named E/2, Explorer CMT, or The Explorer. ["id."] From 1983 to 1989, the standard Explorer had an alder body and control knobs arranged in a triangle pattern (rather than a straight line as on the original model). In 1984 and 1985, Gibson produced the Explorer III, with three single-coil P-90 pickups and an alder body, as well as the Designer Series Explorer (and Flying V), which had factory-painted graphics in geometric and "Artist Original" designs. In 1998, Gibson introduced an Explorer in its "Gothic" line, which featured Gibson's guitars (including the Explorer, Flying V, SG, and Les Paul) in matte black finishes. Several variants are also produced by Epiphone, Gibson's lower cost, offshore operation. These include a model produced in Korina Wood and Epiphone's own "Goth" model, available with a stop-tail or Floyd Rose locking tremolo bridge. Epiphone also produced an Explorer Bass (there has never been a Gibson Explorer Bass), with a set neck, unlike the bolted-neck construction used in the Epiphone version of the Gibson Thunderbird bass.

In 2001 Gibson produced limited editions of Eric Clapton's original 1974 Explorer, the Explorer Extra Cutoff, featuring a shortened bass bout that allows more comfortable arm positioning and the Explorer Split Headstock, a faithful recreation of the original 1957 Korina Futura.

In 2008 Gibson released a 50th anniversary edition of the Explorer. This version features a Korina body and neck like the original 1958 model. Only 100 of these guitars will be produced.

Other makers

The Hamer Guitar company created a tribute to the Explorer in 1974 called the Hamer "Standard." This model typically differed from the original Explorer in that it had no pickguard and a mahogany body with a highly figured maple top in a cherry sunburst finish, though custom finishes were also available. Gaining popularity with the hard rock musicians of the day, including Rick Nielsen, Hamer's success led the way for other copies and was partly responsible for prompting Gibson's own decision to reissue the Explorer.

The Jackson guitar company (now a subsidiary of Fender) was once sued by Gibson for their line of Kelly guitars, which are very similar to the Explorer, although more lightweight. The Kelly was sleeker and lighter, basically the same shape, but with beveled edges.

High-end guitar company Alembic Inc produced a few custom made bass guitars for the late John Entwistle of the Who. These basses had the body shape of the Explorer. After his death, Alembic released a limited number of the bass guitars based on John's custom basses. Warwick also produces the Stryker basses, based on the custom Explorer-style basses.

Ibanez introduced the Destroyer model in the 1970s, with a Korina coloured Japanese Sen body which closely resembled the original Gibson Explorer. In about 1981, Ibanez changed the shape of the Destroyer body: although the new Destroyer II model was still clearly inspired by Gibson's original Explorer design, the body lines were modified, most notably around the treble "horn" and the rear edge, and the headstock no longer resembled the Gibson "hockey stick" shape.

Other companies that have produced Explorer-esque guitars include ESP, Dean Guitars, Jackson, Yamaha, Aria Pro, Tokai, Kramer, and Peavey.

Gibson owns U.S. Trademark registration number 2641548, for the mark EXPLORER in connection with guitars. Gibson also owns U.S. Trademark registration number 2696053, for the Explorer's headstock design, and number 2053805, for the Explorer's body shape design. However, the enforceability of the latter two design trademarks is uncertain, in light of Gibson's unsuccessful lawsuit against PRS Guitars for allegedly infringing Gibson's Les Paul shape. In 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered summary judgment against Gibson in that action, on the grounds that there was no evidence to support a finding of likelihood of confusion. ["Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, LP", 423 F.3d 539 (6th Cir. 2005),. cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 2355 (2006).]

Notable Explorer players

References

*"Gruhn's Guide To Vintage Guitars" By George Gruhn
*"The Ultimate Guitar Book" By Tony Bacon
*"Guitar World Magazine-October 2005"

ee also

*Dean Z
*ESP EX

External links

* [http://www.gibson.com/Products/GibsonElectric/Gibson%20Electric%20Guitars/X%2DPlorer/X%2Dplorer/ Gibson's X-Plorer Webpage]


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