With its angular body, and sharp headstock the Gibson Explorer
is instantly recognisable.
First released by Gibson in 1958 (along with the equally famous
Flying V guitar) the Explorer was a radical departure from its
more famous sibling the Gibson Les Paul.
The original Explorer - the X-Plorer (or the Futura as it was
initially named) came equipped with twin humbucker pickups, two
tone controls and a 3 way pickup switch. The angular headstock
featured the tuning keys on the top of the headstock rather than
the traditional Gibson three each side. With its looks the
guitar was radically different from others in the marketplace.
The design of the Explorer was so years ahead of it's time that
initial sales were low and the guitar was quickly discontinued.
Needless to say those early models are now highly sought after
In the Mid 1970's, prompted by the success of other
manufacturers tributes to the Explorer, Gibson reissued the
guitar - sales were strong and the instrument quickly became a
mainstay for many artists.
The Explorer is a particularly versatile guitar and produces a
wide variety of tones. With the pickup selector in the middle
position, it produces sounds reminiscent of a Les Paul. Select
the bridge position and you have a solid rock tone, finally the
neck pickup has a warm and subtle jazzy tone. The Explorer's
large body produces a lot of its tone and although heavy the
guitar is full of character and its trademark Gibson bite makes
it ideally suited to rock music.
Today, many famous artists can be seen using the Explorer. One
of the most well known Explorer users is U2's The Edge. His
Explorer (picked up on a shopping trip in New York is the early
days of the group) created much of the bands early sound and the
guitar is still used on tour and in the studio today.
There are many other famous users of the Explorer such as James
Hetfield, Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl to name but a few.
These days Gibson has many editions of the Explorer and its
future is secure. With its trademark looks and versatile sound
the Gibson Explorer can comfortably take its place in the guitar
hall of fame.
For more information on the Explorer check out The Gibson Guitar
companies homepage Gibson.com
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