The Gibson Moderne is an electric guitar model prototyped by Gibson in 1957. It was designed alongside the Flying V and Explorer-"Futura" as part of a stylistically advanced line of electric guitars. However, unlike the Flying V and Explorer, the Moderne was not put into production until 1982.

Period1957, 1982-83, 2012-present
Body typeSolid
Neck jointSet-in
BodyKorina, Mahogany, or Poplar
FretboardRosewood, Ebony
Pickup(s)2 Humbuckers

Because few prototypes were made in the 1950s, and no authenticated example is currently known, the hypothetical 1958 Moderne has been called the "mythical great white whale" of collectible guitars.[1]


By the mid-1950s Gibson Guitar Company had lost considerable market share to rival Fender's Telecaster and Stratocaster models and created three modernistic solid-body guitar concepts in an attempt to strike back. On June 27, 1957, Gibson President Ted McCarty filed three designs with the United States Patent Office which would come to be called "Flying V", "Explorer", and (unofficially, by later historians) "Moderne." The design patents were issued on January 7, 1958; however, the Moderne was not put into production, and there is only a vague mention of "Mod. Guitars" on a shipping list, which some argue applies to Explorers.[citation needed] Gibson engineer Rendall Wall (and later co-founder of Heritage Guitars) played it in the early 1960 for a local performance of Bye Bye Birdie. Wall recounted that he got it out of Gibson's "morgue", and that he could have bought it for $50: it was so ugly that nobody wanted it. He returned it after the show, saying he was more a country player than a rock and roll player.[1]

They were "re"-issued by Gibson in 1980 at the NAMM show in Atlanta as part of the "Heritage Series" and later produced in Korea by Epiphone.

Stylistically, Modernes are characterized by an elongated lower bass bout (similar to the Flying V), a scooped-out treble bout (similar to a shark fin), an oblong headstock (similar to Gumby's head) with inverted tuners, and gold hardware: the usual Gibson combination of two humbuckers, adjustable Tune-o-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece. Like its Modernistic siblings but unlike most 2-pickup Gibsons, the Moderne has a single master tone control rather than separate neck and bridge knobs.

The Gibson Moderne is featured in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 video games Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2 in 2006 as unlockables. It was also featured in the Nintendo DS video game Guitar Hero: On Tour. Because of their very limited production and forward design, Modernes are highly sought by collectors. However, in 2012, Gibson re-released the Moderne as a part of their production line.[2]

In 2013 Gibson introduced a Zakk Wylde signature model. The "Moderne of Doom" features a pinstripe design that is typical with Zakk Wylde's signature guitars.[3]

See alsoEdit


  • Gruhn's Guide To Vintage Guitars By George Gruhn and Walter Carter
  • The Ultimate Guitar Book By Tony Bacon
  • Blue Book of Electric Guitars Edited by S.P. Fjestad
  • The United States Patent Office


  1. ^ a b Dickerson, Deke (June 2016). "Out of the Woods, Off the Wall: The Gibson Wall-Board Guitar". pp. 104–106.
  2. ^
  3. ^

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