The Holy V
Creativity has always been the backbone of ingenuity at Gibson USA, and the new Holy-V Flying V—Guitar of the Month, January 2009—is the newest example of Gibson’s imaginative spirit. In this case, creativity has also teamed with efficiency. The traditional features of the Flying V are apparent in the new Holy-V—the mahogany V-shaped body, pointed headstock, and hybrid neck profile are all true to the original’s design. Carefully carved vented openings in both the neck and headstock are a testament to Gibson’s creative genius, giving the new Holy-V a new, more intense look and character, while ending up as one of Gibson’s lightest production guitars to date. The Holy-V’s neck—topped by an ebony fingerboard with split diamond inlays and single-ply binding—carries two additional frets, preserving the Flying V’s traditional 24 ¾-inch scale length while delivering an even higher register of notes to a guitar already famous for its exceptional lead-playing ability. The Holy-V sports a single ’57 Classic pickup in the bridge position, supplying that classic Gibson PAF crunch and power. Other Holy-V features include Steinberger gearless tuners for smooth tuning action and accuracy, and a custom Guitar of the Month case from Gibson USA. Like all Gibson USA’s Guitar of the Month models, production is limited to just 1,000 guitars.
The Gibson Logo
The new Holy-V, Gibson USA’s Guitar of the Month for January 2009, certainly lives up to the innovative spirit represented by the legendary Gibson logo stamped in silver on its headstock. It symbolizes nearly a century of originality and excellence, and is simply the most recognizable logo in all of music. There is no equal.
Angled and Vented Headstock with Steinberger Gearless Tuners
Just like every Gibson headstock, the headstock on the new Holy-V is carved out of the same piece of mahogany as the neck. The center of the headstock is then vented to form part of the Holy-V’s signature appearance. It is angled at Gibson’s customary 17 degrees, which allows increased pressure on the strings to keep them in place and enhance overall sustain. A brand new set of Steinberger Gearless Tuners prevents string slippage by securing the strings with locking knobs. They also deliver an incredible 40:1 tuning ratio for accuracy and smooth tuning action.
Adjustable Truss Rod
Before Gibson’s ground-breaking discovery of the adjustable truss rod in the early 1920s, the truss rod was used only to strengthen and stabilize the neck. Making it adjustable meant that a guitar could now be set up using a variety of string gauges, as well as string heights, which could easily accommodate any style of playing, and allow a limitless range of set-up options. In addition, by placing it at the base of the headstock, the adjustable nut is easily accessible, even while the strings are still on the guitar.
The Holy-V Neck Profile
Gibson has consistently produced some of the more distinguishable neck profiles ever employed on a guitar, and the neck on the new Holy-V is no exception. Just like the legendary Flying V, the neck on the Holy-V is a hybrid between Gibson’s traditional ’50s rounded profile, and the ’60s slim-taper profile. Just like the body, the back of the neck has a satin Cherry finish for an incredibly smooth playing feel. The neck is machined in Gibson’s rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. Once the fingerboard gets glued on, the rest—including the final sanding—is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
24-Fret Ebony Fingerboard
Some of Gibson’s finest stringed instruments have been adorned with ebony fingerboards, and the new Holy-V from Gibson USA is proud to join this exclusive list. This ebony fingerboard is constructed from the highest grade ebony on the planet, all of which is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. The resilience of this dense and durable wood makes each fingerboard extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The Holy-V’s fingerboard also carries two additional frets, preserving the traditional 24 ¾-inch scale length while delivering an even higher register of notes to a guitar already famous for its exceptional lead-playing ability.
Nickel and Silver Alloy Fret Wire
All of the fret wire on Gibson guitars has been specially designed for long life and superior wear, which is achieved by using a special combination of nickel and silver alloy to form Gibson’s traditional “medium/jumbo” fret wire. It is first shaped by hand, then cut to an exact 12-inch radius. After hand pressing it into the fingerboard, a machine press finishes the job to eliminate any gap that may exist between the bottom of the fret wire and the fingerboard.
Classic Split Diamond Inlays
The classic split diamond inlay hasn’t been used on many Gibson guitars, but the new Holy V from Gibson USA is worthy of the rare honor. They are constructed from a figured, swirl acrylic to give the inlay a classic “pearl” look. They are then inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates the possibility of gaps, and doesn’t require the use of fillers.
Like the majority of its guitars, the neck on the new Holy-V features Gibson’s pioneering set-neck construction, which uses glue to attach the neck to the body of the guitar, creating a very solid instrument. This ensures a “wood-to-wood” contact, no air space in the neck cavity, and maximum contact between the neck and body, allowing the neck and body to function as a single unit. The result? Better tone, better sustain, and no loose or misaligned necks.
Vented Solid Mahogany Body with Satin Heritage Cherry Finish
Clearly the most identifiable part of the Holy-V is its V-shaped, solid mahogany body. On the new Holy-V, the body has been carved with carefully vented openings to give the guitar its unique, sleek look, and make it one of Gibson’s lightest guitars. The Satin Heritage Cherry finish makes it one of the most eye-catching Vs Gibson has ever made. The mahogany goes through the same rigorous selection process as all of Gibson’s woods, and is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the factories. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees. This insures all woods are dried to a level of “equilibrium,” where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and helps control the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to helping reduce the weight. It also helps with improving the woods’ machinability and finishing properties. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
’57 Classic Pickup with Double Black Coils
Among the qualities that make Gibson’s original “Patent Applied For” humbucking pickups so unique are the subtle variations between coil windings. For the first few years of their production—1955 to 1961—Gibson’s PAF humbuckers were wound using imprecise machines, resulting in pickups with slightly different output and tone, desirable to players who wanted to mix and match and explore a complete spectrum of tonal possibilities. The ’57 Classic pickup is the result of Gibson’s drive to capture and recreate this renowned characteristic. Introduced in 1992, the ’57 Classic provides warm, full tone with a balanced response, packing that classic Gibson PAF humbucker crunch. It is made by Gibson to the exact same specs as the original PAFs, including Alnico II magnets, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers, and vintage-style, two-conductor braided wiring. Instead of enamel-coated wiring, Gibson added poly-coated wiring—which improves consistency by eliminating thin or thick spots on the wire—and wax potting, which removes all internal air space and any chance of microphonic feedback.
Tune-O-Matic Bridge and Stop Bar
The Tune-o-matic bridge was the brainchild of legendary Gibson president Ted McCarty in 1954. At the time, it was a true revelation in intonation, and set a standard for simplicity and functionality that has never been bettered. This pioneering piece of hardware provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields a great union between the strings and body, which results in excellent tone and sustain. It is combined with a separate “stopbar” tailpiece, essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge. To this day, the Tune-o-matic remains the industry standard. It is the epitome of form and function in electric guitar bridge design, and is one of the most revered and copied pieces of guitar hardware ever developed.