The Gibson Moderne is one of Gibsonâ€™s most infamous instruments, and due to its limited production and the story surrounding it, it has acquired semi-mythical status.
It was first announced in 1958. The Moderne was slated to be part of a very modernistic three-guitar series including the Flying V and Explorer, now two of the most successful guitars ever made. So what happened to the Moderne?
In 1958 the three guitars were just too ahead of their time. They were dropped unceremoniously within a year.
The Flying V and Explorer were reissued in 1967 and 1976 respectively, and continue to have huge followings. In 1958-9, only 96 Vs and 22 Explorers were made, but there was simply no demand for the particularly bizarre Moderne- not a single one was made, or so most people think. Some collectors have been slavishly trying to track down a 1958 Moderne for decades, to no avail.
As far as anyone knows, no Moderne was made until the â€œreissued modelsâ€ of 1982. The only information collectors have to go on is the original patent drawing and a 1958 shipping record.
The Moderne was â€œreâ€- introduced in 1982. The 1980s models were not very successful either, with only 183 being made in the initial run.Â Other than the Korean-made Epiphone copies, Gibson has refused to manufacture the ModerneÂ again and there have been none made since the original â€œ2ndÂ seriesâ€ was phased out in around 1983.Â Â These can occasionally be found for sale, and are commanding high prices as they are still a rarity.
Also not very common is the little-known Ibanez Futura, a copy of the Moderne made in the 1970s and 80s.
Ronald Lynn Wood, a guitarist originally from Flint, MI became fascinated by the Moderne as a young man and set out to unravel the mystery of this elusive guitar. His new book,Â Moderne: The Holy Grail of Vintage Guitars, has just been released by Centerstream Publishing, and it is the most exhaustive and comprehensive accounting to date of the search, the history, and the rumors and facts surrounding the Moderne.
You can buy it here;