Guide to the Gibson Explorer Model Guitars


Gibson Explorer Model Guitars. If you’re looking for a great guitar, you’ll likely be interested in the Gibson Explorer model. This article will cover Explorer II, Gibson Explorer XLP CUSTOM, and Explorer 83. The article will also explain how the Explorer models differ from each other so you can make a more informed decision when purchasing a guitar. But before you get started, here’s a quick guide to the Explorers:

Gibson Explorer

The Gibson Explorer model debuted in 1958. This guitar featured a futuristic X body shape with rosewood fingerboards and a solid mahogany body. It stopped production in 1959 but was reintroduced in 1975 and continues to be produced today. It features a solid mahogany body, an ebony fretboard, a Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge, a nickel stop tail, and gold hardware. Other features of the Explorer include a three-way pickup selector, “velvet brick” pickups, a slim C-neck profile, and gold hardware.

In the early 2000s, the Explorer model was a mainstay of Gibson’s lineup. Later, the Explorer model was discontinued. However, it came back with different names, including the Explorer Pro and the Explorer 90. The Explorer 90, designed by Matthias Jabs, was ninety percent of its original size. Today, Gibson offers several Explorer models, including the traditional mahogany-body Traditional Pro, the 7-string Explorer, and the extended-scale Baritone model.

Gibson Explorer XLP CUSTOM

Like the Explorer 425, the Gibson Explorer XLP Custom features a scalloped cutout in the bottom about, a pointy horn, Dirty Fingers humbuckers, and double-locking Kahler Flyer tremolos. Sunburst models feature figured maple tops and a carved rosette. Its distinctive shape and cut ebony fingerboard distinguish it from its predecessors.

The first version of the Explorer was released in 1981 and featured three single-coil P-90 pickups. Its alder body and factory-painted graphics helped it to gain popularity among rockers. Several variations of the Explorer have appeared over the years, including a thinner body design, “mini” models, and “user-friendly” versions.

The Gibson Explorer Pro was introduced in 2007 and was 90% the size of a standard Explorer. A later model was the Explorer E2, which featured a five-piece maple/maple laminated construction and contoured body. It was discontinued after 1983 but was later reintroduced to the standard line.

The Gibson Custom Shop made limited numbers of the Explorer XPL. It was the guitar that rockers first discovered and loved, and is still a favorite of hard rockers. This guitar features two powerful humbucking pickups in the neck and body and a beautiful ebony finish. The neck has a good life left on the frets, and the hand-wired harness is easy to use.

Gibson Explorer II

The Explorer II is one of Gibson’s classic electric guitars. Introduced in 1979, this guitar was discontinued in 1983. It featured a maple neck and an ebony fingerboard with dot position markers. The tailpiece, known as the TP6, featured gold hardware and two exposed coil humbuckers. It also came with a black pickguard and 3 knobs in a row. Today, the Explorer II is considered one of Gibson’s best-selling electric guitars.

The Gibson Explorer II is often called an E/2 because it features a five-piece maple & walnut body and ebony fingerboard. This guitar’s headstock is engraved with a long series of numbers that appear factory-original. It also features a signed headstock from guitarist Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. This guitar is in good cosmetic condition, with some buckle rash, but has minor finish wear.

The Explorer III was the third model of the Explorer. It featured three single-coil P-90 pickups, an alder body, and factory-painted graphics. The Explorer II was discontinued in 1989, but the model was reintroduced in 1991. While numerous differences exist between the Explorer III and the Explorer II, the guitars share the same features. Despite its differences, the Explorer II is an excellent electric guitar worth the price.

Gibson Explorer 83

The Explorer 83 is a vintage model produced between 1981 and 1984. The Explorer was a classic rocker, with its triangle knob layout and maple body, and maple neck. During its time, the Explorer used two high-output “Dirty Finger” pickups and was known by several other names, including E/2, Explorer CMT, and The Explorer. The guitar is in excellent condition, with no wear or tear, and comes with a Gibson hardshell case in a pink lining.

The Explorer had a solid Korina wood body, two humbuckers, and a maple neck with an ebony fingerboard. The guitar featured gold-plated hardware and was available in natural, white, or black finishes. The Explorer series also included models with Korina bodies and a locking nut vibrato system. Despite its futuristic design, the Explorer was a commercial failure. Only twenty-five guitars were produced between 1958 and 1959.

Gibson Explorer III

The Gibson Explorer is an iconic model developed alongside the Flying V in the late 50s. Its body shape was unique and was embraced by many artists, including Metallica’s James Hetfield. The Explorer features a Mahogany body with a set neck and two humbuckers. Gibson reissued the Explorer in the late 90s and early 2000s and other models, including the Gibson XL and ES-350.

The Explorer was first manufactured in 1958 but did not gain much attention until the late 60s. The Explorer had a slightly longer cutaway and a triangular pickguard than the SG. The Explorer also had a gold TP6 tailpiece and an “ebony” fretboard and was marketed as “the new Fender.”

The Gibson Explorer is a guitar that embodies the style of the original Gibson Explorer. With its angular body, hockey stick headstock, and red-hot rock appeal, the Explorer is one of the most popular guitars ever. The Explorer has an all-mahogany body, rosewood-topped SlimTaper mahogany neck, and dual BurstBucker pickups. These pickups feature a 3-way selector switch, volume control for each pickup, and a master tone knob for ultimate flexibility.

Gibson Explorer 83 in Alpine White

The Gibson Explorer is one of the most popular electric guitars in the world, and it was once a staple of Gibson’s lineup. The Explorer was discontinued in the late 1980s but was revived several times, including a limited edition model in 2014. The re-introduction of the Explorer into the standard lineup brought it back to prominence. A Gibson Explorer is one of the best-selling guitars in history.

The first Explorer was introduced in 1981, and the earliest models incorporated the TP6 tailpiece. This model was also equipped with a standard tune-o-Matic bridge, three knobs in a row, and ebony fretboards. Its distinctive design made it a popular choice among hard rockers. The Explorer’s low-profile body and contoured neck were shaped to accommodate the high-output “dirty fingers” pickups. The Explorer was equipped with gold hardware.

This 1983 Explorer 83 in Alpine White has a Factory Gibson Kahler and an original hard case. The guitar is in great shape for its age, with only a few minor nicks and finishing checking. The pickguard has come off, but it’s in excellent condition and plays well. The frets are in good shape. This instrument includes its original Gibson Hard case but is not in perfect playing condition.

The Gibson Explorer and Flying V
The Gibson 1958 Flying V and Explorer

Gibson Explorer 83 in Cream

The Explorer (R) model has been around since 1958. It first emerged as a Korina wood model in 1958 but gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. This particular guitar was initially released as a limited edition, featuring a unique 12th-fret inlay. Today, the Explorer has returned to Gibson’s standard lineup, but the model is no longer available as a limited edition.

The Explorer 83 featured an alder body, two humbuckers, a maple neck, and an ebony fingerboard. The Explorer 83 featured triangular knob patterns and dot position markers. It was discontinued in 1989. The Explorer II was later reintroduced with the TP6 tailpiece, a locking nut vibrato system, and an ebony fingerboard. It was also available with gold hardware and a TP6 tailpiece. It also featured two single-coil humbuckers, 3 knobs in a row, and chrome-plated hardware.

The Explorer is a rocker. This guitar has some playwear but no significant damage. The mahogany body and neck are in excellent shape. The guitar is equipped with high-output Gibson “Dirty-Finger” pickups. The guitar’s finish is yellow-white, with a good deal of weather-checking. It comes with a hardshell case. It’s one of the best-sounding guitars available.

Gibson Explorer 83 in White

The Explorer is a classic American guitar. Its alder body and maple neck make it a comfortable, lightweight guitar. The Explorer also has a Kahler tremolo and a standard tune-o-Matic bridge. Its original shape and color made it a favorite among artists and guitarists. And it comes with a hardshell case made by Gibson. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a new electric guitar.

The Explorer 83 is the last model from this series. The Explorer had an alder body, two humbuckers, a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard, gold-plated hardware, and a tremolo bridge. It was discontinued in 1989, but you can still find these guitars today, thanks to Explorer III. Compared to the earlier Explorer models, the Explorer 83 was built to resemble a modern-day instrument.

Gibson Explorer Specs and Price

Here’s a table showcasing the Gibson Explorer models along with their specifications and approximate prices:

ModelSpecificationsPrice (Approx.)
Gibson Explorer– Body: Mahogany$1,499 – $1,799
– Neck: Mahogany, Slim Taper profile
– Fingerboard: Rosewood
– Scale Length: 24.75″
– Pickups: 496R and 500T humbuckers
– Bridge: Tune-O-Matic with stopbar tailpiece
Gibson Explorer XLP CUSTOM– Body: Mahogany$2,299 – $2,799
– Neck: Mahogany, Slim Taper profile
– Fingerboard: Ebony
– Scale Length: 24.75″
– Pickups: Burstbucker Pro humbuckers
– Bridge: Tune-O-Matic with stopbar tailpiece
Gibson Explorer II– Body: Mahogany$2,299 – $2,799
– Neck: Mahogany, Slim Taper profile
– Fingerboard: Rosewood
– Scale Length: 24.75″
– Pickups: Dirty Fingers+ humbuckers
– Bridge: Tune-O-Matic with stopbar tailpiece
Gibson Explorer 83– Body: Mahogany$2,499 – $2,999
– Neck: Mahogany, Slim Taper profile
– Fingerboard: Rosewood
– Scale Length: 24.75″
– Pickups: ’57 Classic and ’57 Classic Plus humbuckers
– Bridge: Nashville Tune-O-Matic with stopbar tailpiece
Gibson Explorer III– Body: Mahogany$2,999 – $3,499
– Neck: Mahogany, Slim Taper profile
– Fingerboard: Richlite
– Scale Length: 24.75″
– Pickups: Dirty Fingers+ humbuckers
– Bridge: Nashville Tune-O-Matic with stopbar tailpiece
Gibson Explorer 83 in– Body: Mahogany$2,499 – $2,999
Alpine White– Neck: Mahogany, Slim Taper profile
– Fingerboard: Rosewood
– Scale Length: 24.75″
– Pickups: ’57 Classic and ’57 Classic Plus humbuckers
– Bridge: Nashville Tune-O-Matic with stopbar tailpiece

Please note that prices vary based on the retailer, location, and additional customizations or features. The provided prices are approximate and subject to change.

Who Plays a Gibson Explorer?

If you have ever wondered, “Who plays a Gibson Explorer?” there is no shortage of options. Here are a few examples of notable guitar players who play Explorers: James Hetfield, Gary Moore, and Elvino Rey. If you are an aspiring guitarist or want to play the Explorer, consider purchasing one today. Gibson guitars are renowned for their quality and durability. And the price is certainly reasonable.

Elvino Rey

Elvino Rey is an American guitarist best known for his work with the Gibson Explorer. He played this instrument for many years before starting his solo career. He was a widower and amateur radio operator who used the pseudonym Ira Ironstrings. Rey was also the brother-in-law of Warner Bros. Records exec Jim Conkling, who was a fan of the singer-songwriter’s music. Rey had an idea to record hi-fi Dixieland music, but he passed away a few months before the album’s release.

Rey’s electric guitar pioneer days have been celebrated in recent years. The guitarist was credited with the first electric guitar, later used in many film soundtracks and exotica albums. Rey played an electric guitar with a carbon-thread microphone, and his wife sang along with the lines of the song. This invention was later called a “singing guitar” and was a massive success for Rey and his music.

Who plays a Gibson Explorer
Guide to the Gibson Explorer Model Guitars

James Hetfield

The guitar James Hetfield plays was originally a 1969 SG Standard with a tremolo bridge and was given to him by a friend from high school who played in a jazz ensemble. The cherry red guitar with a black pickguard was most likely traded for a PA system. James Hetfield eventually sold the instrument for a different model, but it remains a famous guitar.

Other instruments he plays include ESP Snakebyte guitars, a custom-made model for Hetfield by ESP. Hetfield also owns a white snakebite guitar, which was likely used during the mid-2010s. The snakebite features a mahogany body with an ebony fretboard and EMG James Hetfield’s signature humbuckers. For his solos, Hetfield typically plays a Gibson Explorer.

Gary Moore

While playing a Gibson Explorer, guitarist Gary Moore often uses the A5 model. This guitar first made its appearance during a live show in 1978. He used it during the songs “Are You Ready” and “Baby Drives Me Crazy.” It was later replaced with a white DiMarzio humbucker. Moore also used it on his 1985 album, The Last Days of the World. Today, the guitar is owned by John Marks, owner of Rare Star Guitars.

Having a Gibson Explorer allows Moore to achieve the grit and sustain needed for blues guitar playing. It was also the first guitar Moore bought. Its vintage design is highly reminiscent of the early 1950s Gibson Explorer models. The Explorer has a resonator that allows Moore to control the amount of output from the pickups. Moore’s original model has a vintage-inspired design, resembling an ebony wood body.

1958 Gibson Explorer

Gary Moore plays a Gibson Explorer

The Gibson Explorer was made in the 1960s and is one of the most popular guitars among rock musicians. The Explorer is one of the most popular guitars ever, and Gary Moore has played it numerous times. He first played the Explorer during a 1977 live performance of Thin Lizzy and was photographed playing it. He used the Explorer on songs such as “Are You Ready” and “Baby Drives Me Crazy.” Other Gibson models have since replaced the guitar, which is now owned by John Marks from Rare Star Guitars.

While recording this song, Moore used a prototype Marshall JTM-45 reissue head and a Guv’nor distortion pedal. This was an experiment that helped Moore achieve his unique sound. Moore was also influenced by B.B. King and Albert Collins, who played with Moore on his debut album. The album is considered one of Moore’s best, and the Guv’nor pedal has earned it a place in the blues-rock history books.

1958 Korina Flying V Reissue Review

Owning a Gibson Explorer

Most Gibson Explorers are composed of mahogany, while a select few are crafted with rare and precious Korina wood. This distinction isn’t purely cosmetic; a guitar’s body material significantly affects its tone and sustain. Dense and resonant, Mahogany gives the Explorer a rich, warm undertone. On the other hand, Korina is known for its balanced tone, falling between the warmth of mahogany and the brightness of maple, adding to the Explorer’s versatility.

Another characteristic worth mentioning is the neck construction. The typical slim taper design of the Gibson Explorer’s neck is built for comfortable and seamless playing. It allows for easy access to the fretboard, doing those lightning-fast solos and complex chord shapes manageable.

One cannot neglect the importance of the fixed bridge system. This particular design plays a critical role in maintaining the sustain and tuning stability of the Gibson Explorer. The strings are firmly anchored, enabling them to vibrate freely, ensuring a fuller, more resonant sound that lasts.

The humbucking pickups are arguably the heart of the Gibson Explorer’s sound. These pickups contribute to a thick, powerful tone ideal for heavy rock and metal, yet they also retain a clarity that suits softer genres. The tonal range of the Explorer is further enhanced by the pickup selection switches and tone controls, allowing players to harness everything from a tight, snappy rhythm tone to a soaring lead tone.

The Explorer’s unique shape requires some adaptability. Finding a comfortable playing position is crucial to optimizing how one accesses the higher frets. With the correct posture and handling, it becomes an extension of your musical soul, a means to convey your creative essence.

Right-hand dynamics and pick attack play a significant role in shaping the Explorer’s sound spectrum. Every nuance in picking strength, angle, and position can transform the tone from gentle, warm, clean tones to aggressive, biting distortions. Mastery of these techniques breathes life into the Explorer’s broad sonic canvas.

As with all things of value, a Gibson Explorer requires thoughtful care, maintenance, and the right accessories. From specially designed cases protecting against potential damage to uniquely tailored strap designs catering to comfort on stage, ensuring the Explorer’s longevity is part and parcel of truly appreciating this magnificent instrument. Would you not tend and nurse something you love to ensure its charm never fades?

Embrace the Gibson Explorer, care for it, and it will reward you with a lifetime of powerful, inspiring tones.

Are Explorer guitars any good?

The Gibson Explorer guitar is known for its slim tapered neck design, distinctive “fat” and aggressive sound, and medium jumbo fretboard size. It’s a popular choice for metal and heavy classic rock music genres and has a devoted following among musicians like Eric Clapton and Billy Gibbons. Prices range from low to high, and there are budget-friendly versions available from other brands like Washburn, ESP, BC Rich, and Hamer.

How many Gibson Explorers are there?

The Gibson Explorer guitar was first introduced in 1958, but production ended in 1963. However, it gained popularity among hard rock and heavy metal musicians and was reissued multiple times. Today, a wide selection of Gibson Explorers is available on the market, including the popular Gibson Explorer 83 and Gibson Explorer Pro models. This guitar is known for its earthy, warm tone and impressive durability, making it an ideal option for guitarists looking for a reliable instrument with an eye-catching style.

What were the earliest Gibson Explorers?

The Gibson Explorer was an experimental guitar that became popular among rockers. Although it had some shortcomings, later models were adopted by iconic musicians like Metallica’s James Hetfield and U2’s The Edge. Hamer Guitars created a series of tributes to the Gibson Explorer in 1974, which helped revive interest in the Explorer’s body shape. The original Gibson Explorers were produced between 1958 and 1959 with Korina bodies. In the 1980s, Gibson offered a selection of Explorer models, including the Explorer 83 with an older body.

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