Collectable Guitars

Collectable Guitars pt 11 – The Gibson Moderne

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Gibson Moderne

Gibson ModerneThe Gibson Moderne is one of Gibson’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 “reissued models” of 1982. The only information collectors have to go on is the original patent drawing and a 1958 shipping record.

The Moderne was “re”- introduced in 1982. The 1980s models were not very successful either, with only 183 being made in the initial run. Other than the Korean-made Epiphone copies, Gibson has refused to manufacture the Moderne again and there have been none made since the original “2nd series” was phased out in around 1983.  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, 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;


One reply on “Collectable Guitars pt 11 – The Gibson Moderne”

as a gibson admirer, in 1981 i designed a solid body guitar . i decided to contact gibson in michigan at the custom shop and had the fortune of speaking to jp moats about my design. after sending my blue prints to gibson i decided to have my guitar made from korina wood. during that time gibson did not have any korina wood and did not know where to find it so i called every specialty lumber yard from atlanta to california. i finally located a specialty lumber yard in california that had a large supply of korina wood. i then contacted jp. moats and told him where to find the korina wood. he contacted the specialty lumber yard and flew out to california and purchased all the korina wood. after building two custom made solid body guitars that i named nomad. gibson reissued their korina flying v, explorer, and took the moderne off the design table from 1957 and produced them in 1982 as the heritage model 82 moderne. since then gibson has introduced the 2012 reissue moderne at the california nam show. i was thrilled to have played a role in this historical event in the music instrument industry. jerry hester