New Guitars

Gibson Holy Explorer

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Gibson Explorer is a guitar most readers may be familiar with, and it is a well-designed, well-loved shape used by several distinguished rock and metal players. So what in the name of all that is holy (see what I did there?) have they done to this one, many will ask.

Gibson Holy Explorer GuitarThe Holy Explorer is a standard, natural finish Explorer with seven gaping holes cut through the body. There is also a Flying V which has had a similar makeover. The guitars feature the usual attributes of the Flying V and Explorer designs- mahogany bodies and necks, 496R and 500T pickups, and the usual 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. But, those holes…

The bad sides of the gaping holes would be the obvious deficits in the sustain. Less wood means less vibration can travel through the body, so the notes can’t last as long. Explorers are famed for the colossal sustain of the large body, so this sort of defeats the objective in that sense.

Maybe the pickups make up for it, but I can’t see that happening without use of a Fernandes Sustainer or an E-Bow. As well as that potential problem, the holes probably won’t be to everyone’s taste. I don’t think it looks too bad, I just can’t see the point.

On the other hand, the original Explorer’s considerable weight would be very much reduced, and the design is quite original, although they could have made a better job of the placing of the holes.  The classic Explorer’s well proven sustain and feel would inevitably be compromised, but answer me this- the Holy Explorer or that utterly repellent Eye Guitar? Gibson are making a whole run of 2009 Limited Run ultra-low production guitars, which, beside the hideous Tribal V and Explorer, also has some very nicely executed guitars- a reissue of the famed 1970s Grabber bass, and a stunning SG with a carved maple top.

So, the Holy Explorer. I think it’s nicely done, but a bit pointless.

An Explorer with less sustain?

And while the design is neat, it’s far from perfectly executed. And, the price is a bit steep- $2775 against $2399 for the standard Explorer, but it will be a limited run of only 350 guitars, making it quite collectable.  Gibson have gone very much overboard on limited run special editions of late, and it’s wearing a bit thin. We’ve had the slightly overcooked Dark Fire, the new all-maple Raw Power Les Paul and SG, which defeats the objective of those two guitars completely, the  Eye (sore) Guitar, and now the Holy V and Explorer.

Are any of these a match for Gibson’s classic designs such as the Les Paul, SG, ES-335, Firebird, Explorer and Flying V? No. Gibson never used to muck around with expensive and ultimately pointless limited edition models, so why do they feel the need now? They have always stuck to what they’re good at, which has produced some absolutely inspired pieces of guitar design, which is why it’s so infuriating when they don’t do what they’re good at, and play around with decidedly uninspired limited editions such as this.

We need less of this from Gibson, and more inspired designs like the aforementioned classics above.