With it’s 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 called 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 collector’s item.
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