1983 Gibson Corvus II

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Ergonomic design, unusual looks, headstock, bridge, light weight, OHSC, vintage values

Thumbs down: Divisive aesthetic, bolt‑on maple neck, pickups, poor reputation

Decree: An overlooked and underappreciated ‘forgotten’ Gibson, one for the alternative set

Model Description:

The solid body Gibson Corvus was certainly an out‑of‑the‑ordinary guitar, which was only produced for a short period between 1982 and 1984. The word ‘corvus’ is Latin for crow, hinting at the designer’s intention that, from some angles, it is supposed to look like a crow in flight. The original Corvus range comprised 3 base models, all with bolt‑on maple necks and each with a different pickup configuration; the Corvus I (single humbucker), II (dual humbuckers), III (3 single coils), as well as an upmarket Gibson Futura model with a set neck and dual humbuckers. The Corvus was discontinued after only 2 years due to a lack of commercial success. Although ergonomically designed, the unusual Corvus has certainly split opinion over the intervening years. It has been rather unkindly nicknamed ‘the can opener’ by some commentators, mainly because of the curious offset ‘V’ notch at the rear of the body. For others, the body shape has also been likened to an executioner’s axe. Several respected but possibly lazy journalists have jumped on the bandwagon (mistakenly in my view, they should know better) and proclaimed the Corvus as a ‘guitar Gibson should never have made’, and it seems many, often uninformed, forum‑followers seem to agree. In its defence, where would we be without creativity, diversity and innovation? Repeating a tightly straightjacketed and stagnant past, based on a few accepted ‘classic’ designs, I would argue. As a ‘Marmite’ guitar, it really is down to each individual to make up their own mind about the overall aesthetic. There certainly doesn’t seem to be much middle ground between the ‘hot or not’ camps. I feel it deserves to have someone fighting its corner and give it some love. Ironically, while the model has never been reissued by Gibson, the Corvus has featured in the popular ‘Guitar Hero’ video game series, bringing it a degree of renewed interest. The Gibson Corvus is relatively scarce on the used market and when they do come up, they generally fall into the bracket of ‘affordable’ vintage.


Guitar Description:

This 1983 Gibson Corvus II is a rare bird (sic!) and many may see it as bit of an ‘ugly duckling’ or, even worse, some sort of misguided abomination from Gibson’s widely discredited Norlin era. Admittedly, it is easy to see why it didn’t capture the buying public’s imagination at the time. On a positive note, the Corvus is instantly recognisable and it certainly stands out from a crowd of look‑alikes. While the admittedly ungainly‑looking body shape is unusual, it is light in weight and certainly feels ergonomic in use. The bolt-on neck is not a problem, other than to the dogmatically prejudiced (no‑one complains about Fenders in the same way) and provides good upper fret access. The single‑sided headstock is decidedly un‑Gibson like but it has a unique and very attractive outline. Strings are secured by a beautifully constructed Schaller 455 wrap-over bridge/tailpiece and the two humbucking pickups are unusually fully covered with no visible pole pieces. Taking the aesthetics out of the picture, the Corvus plays very well and (spoiler alert) it actually sounds very good. This Corvus II is in very good condition with only a little discolouration of the finish on the rear of the body. Whichever way you look at it, it is certainly an underdog guitar in Gibson’s illustrious history and a bit of a ‘forgotten’ model. The Corvus isn’t a hugely collectable model in the Gibson canon, principally because it has been shunned by conservative purists and there are few artists associated with it. For enthusiasts of the wild and whacky, its 2nd division status is good news. With everyone seemingly ganging up on the poor Corvus, it is precisely why CRAVE Guitars has given this one a welcoming home. A bit like the bullied loner kid at school, I have become quite protective of the breed. OK, so it isn’t a classic design like the 1959 Les Paul but so what? Very few instruments are. It is certainly eccentric and, arguably, it can grow on one. Now that I’m accustomed to it, I think that it is actually cool and quite groovy and it is great fun to pick up and play. The Corvus merits a better reputation – or is it just me? Discuss…

Features:

  • Made in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. in March 1983
  • Solid alder body with metallic silver nitrocellulose finish
  • Maple bolt-on neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24¾”
  • Chrome hardware
  • Original tuners
  • Original twin covered humbucking pickups
  • Original single‑ply black plastic scratchplate, 3‑way pickup selector switch, 2 volume and 1 tone knobs, and jack socket
  • Original Schaller 455 integrated wraparound bridge/tailpiece
  • Original Gibson hard shell case

Artists:

  • Mike Cooley (Drive By Truckers)

Detail Gallery:


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