Gibson Moderne Heritage Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1982), made in Nashville, TN, serial # D010, antique natural lacquer finish, Korina body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original brown tolex hard shell case.

There are many myths and legends in vintage guitar history, but none as lost in the mists of mystery as the Gibson Moderne. Annoyed by industry talk that Gibson's electric instruments were "stodgy" and "old Fashioned" compared to the sleek space age Fenders of the mid-50s, company president Ted McCarty drew up several outrageously futuristic solid body concepts designed to "shake things up". The company patented three design drawings in 1957, two of which emerged as production instruments; The Flying V and the Explorer. The third design was never followed up on, and despite several credible stories of sightings, no verifiably authentic 1957-8 instrument based on it has ever surfaced.

Fast forward to 1981-82,when Gibson was working up the first really historically accurate re-issues of the original 1950s Korina V and Explorer as the Heritage series. It was decided that their lost sister, by then christened the Moderne, would finally be produced. Even these 1982-3 Moderne guitars have a somewhat murky history. They are not strictly a "reissue" as they were never sold to begin with; just a lost design finally seeing the light. The 1957 patent drawing did not show trim or electronics layout details, so these were logically improvised based on the Flying V and Explorer. The pickguard shape was anyone's guess.

Now-renowned Gibson employee Tim Shaw who worked on the project, and the then-new re-created PAF humbuckers he developed were included, so the sonics were the best Gibson offered at the time. The natural finish Korina body is lighter than either the V or Explorer, and despite its unconventional look surprisingly ergonomic in use. The neck has a classic chunky '58 feel, with an unbound Rosewood fingerboard. The most quizzical feature is the wildly splayed headstock, with pin rollers to guide the strings to the tuner shafts. This was taken from the patent drawing, but modified a bit for production.

The gold-plated hardware is the same as the other Heritage series models: a pair of Tim Shaw humbuckers, the three-position selector, individual volume controls and a master tone. Kluson Deluxe style tuners with plastic Keystone buttons are fitted at the swooping head. The standard Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece completed the package, along with a beveled B/W/B pickguard.

Gibson only produced a limited number of Korina Heritage Moderne guitars in 1982-3. They were beautifully made but rather expensive, targeted more towards the budding collector market than gigging players. The Heritage Korina Explorers and the Flying V's were relatively successful, but dealer and public reaction to the "ugly duckling" Moderne was generally negative, perhaps reflecting the initial reaction in 1957! Most sources indicate that although Gibson announced 500 Modernes would be made, only 183 were sold from the original run. The inked-on serial numbers were run in a special series, with a single letter prefix designating the batch. This example was built during 1982 at Gibson's Nashville plant, with serial number D010 indicating the 10th produced in batch "D". Later models were offered in red, white and black as well, possibly to spruce up disappointing sales.

While even 65 years since the original design was drafted many players react to the Modern's sleek "shark fin" look with disbelief and distain, while some Gibson fans have come to love it. It is definitely one of those designs that elicits a strong response either way. Taken on its own merits simply as a guitar the Moderne is a fine playing, great sounding Korina tone machine with all the best wood and fittings Gibson offered in 1982. And it will still ALWAYS stand out in the crowd!

Overall length is 45 in. (114.3 cm.), 15 in. (38.1 cm.) width, and 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is a super clean guitar, an untouched all original example which looks to have been very little played over the past 40 years. The finish has some light handling wear with tiny dings and scuffs, but really no actual play wear. Even the gold playing is hardly worn at all. Internally it is all original and undisturbed, with pots dating to 1980 and 1982.

Despite its unconventional appearance this is a very good playing guitar, handier in many way than either the Flying V or Explorer and with a similar aggressive Korina/Humbucker sonic signature. It is housed in the (huge) original pink-lined brown case, which is also very clean except the plastic handle has been replaced with a leather one. The original complete unsent-in warranty card is still in the case pocket, a nice package not much from 40 years ago. Excellent + Condition.

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Listeda year ago
ConditionExcellent (Used)
Excellent items are almost entirely free from blemishes and other visual defects and have been played or used with the utmost care.Learn more
  • Moderne Heritage Series
  • antique natural lacquer
  • 1982
Fretboard Material
  • Rosewood
Body Shape
  • V-Style
Neck Construction
  • Set-Neck
Right / Left Handed
  • Right Handed
Number of Strings
  • 6-String
Body Type
  • Solid Body
Bridge/Tailpiece Type
  • Stop-Bar
Offset Body
  • Offset Body
Pickup Configuration
  • HH
Color Family
  • Tan
Model Family
Number of Frets
  • 22

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Retrofret Vintage Guitars

Brooklyn, NY, United States
Joined Reverb:2015

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