1980 Gibson Flying V2

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: All‑original, unique and highly distinctive looks, rarity, OHSC, vintage values

Thumbs down: Not everyone’s taste, unfamiliar tones, buckle rash, general ergonomics

Decree: One‑of‑a‑kind controversial model. If you’re conservative, you’ll hate it, otherwise, you might find it is an intriguing proposition

Model Description:

The original Gibson Flying V was introduced in 1958 and failed commercially resulting in its discontinuation by the early 1960s. Gibson flirted with reintroducing the Flying V in limited numbers during both the late 1960s and 1970s. By 1979, renowned Gibson designer Tim Shaw had developed a notable departure from the original 1958 Flying V design, the Flying V2, which was ambitious to say the least. The Flying V2’s body comprised 5 layers of maple and walnut, which was sculpted and then finished in natural to show off the contrasting wood layers. The V2 would come with either walnut or maple tops, the former being more popular. The neck was also made from maple and walnut topped with ebony fingerboards. It also featured unique sealed ‘boomerang’ humbucking pickups and a unique ‘V’ top‑loading tailpiece. The V2 was expensive to manufacture and, in wake of a lacklustre reception, Gibson decided to take action and modify the design. In their attempt to boost flagging sales, later Flying V2s were painted in solid colours, had traditional humbucking pickups and normal ‘stop bar’ tailpieces, while retaining the curvaceous body contours that haven’t appeared on any other Flying V to‑date. The standardisation of parts also enabled owners to substitute pickups and hardware if they wanted to, which hadn’t been possible with the V2’s original ‘V’‑shaped pickups and tailpiece. While the facelift moderated the guitar’s more eccentric elements, sales still didn’t pick up and the Flying V2 was considered a critical and commercial failure. It was finally withdrawn by 1982. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gibson has never reissued the V2, so the only vintage Flying V2s available are genuine ones from the original production period. Due to their unconventional design, purists and collectors have tended to overlook the ‘furniture’‑style V2. However, they are an important part of Gibson’s heritage and are truly unique instruments that perhaps should be embraced and celebrated, rather than derided. As a result of their origins, vintage Flying V2 prices vary considerably.

Guitar Description:

Here is another cool and rare model for you, unlike any other. This lovely all‑original 1980 Gibson Flying V2 is certainly noteworthy and it certainly stands out from the crowd. The Flying V2 has proved highly divisive in vintage guitar circles with the opinionated tending to favour the traditional 1950s look over the radical approach taken with the V2. I don’t care if the purist collectors call the Flying V2 a ‘guitar only its maker could love’ or, even worse, one of those ‘guitars Gibson should never have made’. I believe that it was a fascinating experiment that simply didn’t capture guitar buyers’ imagination at the time. I agree that the unique pickups, while having a high output (>12kohms DC resistance), sound very different to standard humbuckers, although claims that they are weak, thin sounding and a poor attempt to mimic single coil pickups is overly harsh. The overall aesthetic is very much of its time and quite distinctive, which just adds to its distinctive retro charm in my view. The alternate layers of walnut and maple, with contoured edges make it highly unusual, often commented on as looking like a piece of 1970s furniture. Playability is what you would expect for a Gibson although, like pretty much all Flying Vs, it is awkward to play while seated. Despite the tone woods used, the V2 is a nice light weight at just 6½lbs (2.95kg). This example is completely stock and in pretty good condition for its age with a nice aged patina. It has a patch of buckle rash through the finish to the wood on the back of the body and some tarnishing of the gold hardware but that’s about it. Don’t take my word for it, make up your own mind as to whether this cool, rare and unusual guitar is worthy of higher praise. Just don’t confuse the Gibson V2 with the German Nazi long‑range guided ballistic missile from World War II of the same name – the latter only came in black and white!!


  • Made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A. in February 1980
  • 5‑piece walnut and maple set neck
  • Unbound ebony fingerboard with 21/22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Original gold hardware
  • Original sealed Gibson tulip tuners
  • Engraved ‘V2’ Truss rod cover
  • 5-layer walnut and maple contoured body in natural nitrocellulose finish
  • Original small 4‑ply (b/w/b/w) scratchplate
  • Original unique ‘boomerang’ ‘V’-shaped epoxy sealed humbucking pickups with gold mounting rings
  • Original bridge and unique ‘V’ shaped stop tailpiece
  • Original body mounted switch, knobs, strap buttons, jack plate and socket
  • Weight: 6½lb (2.95kg)
  • Original Gibson Hard Shell Case


In order to manufacture the Flying V2’s unusual ‘V’‑shaped ‘boomerang’ pickups, each pickup comprises two separate coils with each coil only covering 3 strings. The pickups are wired ‘hot’ with a high output of around 12‑13kohms DC resistance. However, the coils seem to be wired in series and out‑of‑phase for noise reduction, which may explain the adverse comments about tone. Whether to secure the coils or to hide the innovative construction from prying eyes, the pickups were sealed with black epoxy resin. Combining the unique pickups with the uncommon tone woods, the Flying V2 sounds like no other solid-body before or since.

Detail Gallery:

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