gibson explorer

Rig Rundown: Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett

A Fender Tele Deluxe “Cleaver,” a not-so-golden ’57 Les Paul, a few gifts from Grohl, and a pedal playground help “Shifty” find some sonic space.

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The search for the vintage world's holy grail.

In the vintage guitar world, the Gibson Moderne is the ultimate maddening mystery: the Holy Grail, El Dorado, the Unicorn, UFOs and Big Foot, if you will. It was designed along with the Flying V and Explorer as part of Gibson’s “Modernistic” series in 1957 (the era of pulp fiction and the space craze), in order to shake up Gibson’s stodgy image. The V and Explorer made it into production, but the Moderne seemingly never saw the light of day, until Gibson saw fit to finally issue a limited run in 1982. To this day, not a single Moderne has ever been verified as original by anyone, although there have been forgeries, copies, and more false sightings than one could imagine. This article is a condensed history of the guitar, the fifty-plus-year search for an original example—the myth, the mystery, the facts and the rumors.

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