I estimate Gibson only made 45 to 50 1960's Gibson Flying V's with the Sunburst finish. All of them, except the very first Sunburst prototype, were built in 1967. The Sunburst prototype was built in 1966. Only 5 of the 25 Sunburst Vs that I have accounted for are still 100% factory original and totally unmolested, including the Sunburst prototype. The Hendrix Sunburst V owned by the Hard Rock Cafe', the two that I own and one owned by Albert Molinaro, the Burst Collector are the others. Some of the Sunburst Vs have black or gold Top Hat knobs and some have Witch Hat knobs with gold trim or silver and white trim. Most of the Sunburst Vs have serial numbers that begin with 940xxx, 93xxxx and 920xxx and came from Batches #3 and #4. However, there were several Sunburst Vs that came from Batch #2 and have 0002xx or 005xxx serial numbers.
There were two different shades of Sunburst. Most have a black outer edging finish (over amber) on the front of the body. These came from Batches 3 and 4. There are also several (also pictured in this section) that have a lighter reddish-brown outer edging (over amber) on the front of the body. These came exclusively from Batch 2. The 1966 Prototype also has this color scheme. The rest of the finish on all the Sunburst Vs is translucent (walnut) brown and is used on the back of the body and back of headstock. Jimi Hendrix owned two '67 Sunburst Flying Vs. The famous Hendrix Flying V that he did his psychedelic "Love Drops" art work on was Sunburst, not black as some folks claim (see the Black/Blue weblink above). Pictured below are several Sunburst examples including the first 1966 prototype. __________________________________________________________________________
The two shades of Sunburst used on the 1966 & 1967 Flying Vs
The earliest Sunburst Vs from Batches 1 and 2, including the 1966 Sunburst Prototype, had the reddish-brown edging over amber. The Sunburst Vs from Batches 3 and 4 had the black edging over amber. See picture below.
The sides of the body on the Sunburst Vs is always Walnut (translucent brown), just like the back. In this example you can see where the body was taped so the black paint would not be applied to the sides.
Serial Number: 940154. The Hendrix twin. This is a super clean, totally unmolested, totally original example that spent most of its life in Texas. The original owner played it a few years then stuck it under his bed for almost 38 years. I bought it from a collector in 2009. He got it from a dealer who acquired it directly from a relative of the original owner. As it turns out that same relative bought the guitar for the original owner as a gift back in 1967. This one is a time capsule and has its original case. I spent years looking for one of these that was totally original and unmolested. Finally, my search paid off. This is my dream guitar. It is identical in every detail to the Jimi Hendirx Sunburst Flying V (932954).
The 1966 Sunburst Prototype
Serial number: 811197 (1966). Thanks to Don B. for sending the below pics. This is the very first Flying V with the 1966-1967 body style that was ever made. Other than the stickers, it is totally unmolested and 100% factory original. Its a miracle this guitar has survived with no modifications and is unbroken. As you can tell, it has been played a lot over the years. It dates from 1966 and has some features that are not on any other 1960's Flying V. Notice the location of the toggle switch and the two front corner mounting screws on the pickguard. Plus, the front of the pickguard is squared-off over the neck joint pickup cavity. It also has the very short neck shelf and long truss rod cover. I have never seen a short neck shelf or long truss rod cover on any other 1960's Sunburst Flying V. The long truss rod cover is more common on the Cherry finish Vs from Batch #1 and Batch #2. The serial number is stamped on the back edge of the headstock as normal, but it is located on the opposite back edge next to the D string tuner instead of the G string tuner. No other late 60's V has the serial stamped in that location. The strap button on the upper wing is located in the same area as the buttons on the 1958-1959 Korina Flying Vs.
This Sunburst Flying V is one of only two Vs that shipped in 1966 and is the initial prototype. The current owner, Don B, purchased the V way back in 1973. At that time he was told it was some sort of prototype. The 1966 Gibson advertisement that re-introduced the Flying V in September, 1966 corroborates that story since the same guitar is featured in the advertisement. Scroll down about six pictures to see the advertisement. Thanks again to Don B. for the pics and info. Originally posted April, 2016. See updates below.
Notice the short neck shelf. This is the only Sunburst Flying V that I have ever seen with this early Batch #1 feature.
The control cavity is not hand-routed on this one. The routed wiring channels and electronic circuit wiring, including the pickups, is very different than any other 1960s V.
Notice the elongated truss rod cover pictured above and below. This is the only Sunburst Flying V that I have ever seen with this style of truss rod cover.
This exact same guitar was featured in the very first advertisement from September, 1966 for the re-introduction of the Gibson Flying V. See below. Notice it has the gold 1960's top hat knobs in the advertisement. The knobs were later changed to amber vintage style knobs as shown in the pictures above.
Update: As of August 2018, I am now the owner of the 1966 Flying V Prototype ! See new pictures below.
The two stickers have been removed and gold 1960's top hat knobs have been added.
Pictured below: Serial Number: 932954. This amazing Sunburst Flying V was one of the two sunburst Flying Vs owned by Jimi Hendrix. It is now owned by the Hard Rock Cafe. Hendrix used it from January 1969 to May 1970 just before he received his custom made left-handed V. This guitar is 100% factory original and totally unmolested. His other sunbust V is the one he did his famous psychedelic paint job on.
Serial Number: 940082. Even though this Batch #3 Sunburst V has a headstock repair its still a really cool V. It has a nice vibe. Notice the gold witch hat knobs, synonymous with the Hendrix Sunburst V. I purchased this one in March 2019. Posted: March 2019.
Serial Number: 93273x. This beautiful Sunburst V was probably made at the same time as the Hendrix V pictured above. Both have the 932 "gap" series serial numbers. There are also two sparkling burgundy Vs that have the 932 "gap" series serial number. This incredible Sunburst V is factory original except for the added strap button on the inner edge of the upper wing. Thanks Tim. Posted: Oct. 2013.
Serial Number: 930085. This one has the Stop Bar tailpiece holes and added pickup rings. The holes from the stop bar tailpiece and pickup rings were filled in after this guitar was sold in the Spring of 2013.
Here is the same guitar after restoration. The stop bar tailpiece holes and pickup mounting ring holes have been filled in. The restoration of this guitar took place during the summer of 2013. Its too bad this V had been modifed....it is one of the cleanest I have ever seen. But unfortunatly it fell prey to the dreaded stop bar mod and added pickup ring mod.
Serial Number: 940112. This example had the top refinished and some wood patching done in the Vibrola tremelo area. Notice the shorter style Vibrola tremelo unit.
The Control cavity was also routed for a 9 Volt battery to support active EMG pickups this guitar had at one time.
Serial Number: 940712. This is a really nice V, but unfortunately it has a repair at the lower V point corner that is only visible in direct sunlight or under a black light. This guitar changed hands several times from 2003 to 2007 and was eventually sold to a collector in England in 2007. This V was offered for sale again in May of 2016. I owned this V for a short time then sold it to a collector in Pennsylvania in June of 2016.
Here is the same Sunburst Flying V pictured with a beautiful 67 Cherry V. They were both displayed on the Rumbleseat Music website back in 2007 as pictured here. Rumbleseat acquired both of these guitars in the 2003 to 2005 time frame and sold them as a pair in early 2007.
The same Sunburst V pictured above (940712) sold for $16,500 in 2005.
Serial Number: 940113. Grovers and newer Gibson tuners were added and removed from this V over the years. Lots of wear. This guitar has had six different owners in the past 16 years, three of which were in the USA. The other three are in the Far East. It sold in Japan in mid 2012, and again in March 2018, and again in May 2019. The current owner lives in Hong Kong. Thanks for the updated info Tim.
Serial Number: 954912. This cool V was a "player" for many decades. It has the Stop Bar Tailpiece mod and a repaired headstock. The previous owner had the guitar since the mid-1970's. He recently sold it to his friend in April 2018. Posted April 2018. Thanks Scott.
The picture below is an excerpt from the 1968 video called "Open My Eyes" by Todd Rundgren and Nazz. In the late 1960's Todd owned a 67 Sunburst V that he is playing in the foreground. Notice that the configuration of the toggle switch and knobs is different than the standard factory arrangement. The video can be seen on Youtube. It is perhaps the earliest video of someone playing a 1967 Flying V. There are a lot of nice shots of the V in the video. The youtube link is below.
Serial Number: 00028x. This sunburst Flying V recently surfaced in Japan. The story goes that it was originally sold in London back in 1967, most-likely to Kim Simmons of Savoy Brown but this has not been confirmed. Apparently two other sunburst Vs were shipped to London at the same time, one of which was purchased by Jimi Hendrix which he eventually painted with his Love Drops artwork. This V has an added strap button at the crotch, the Gover mod (original Kluson tuners now back on), changed nut and re-fretted. Posted: December 2018.
Pictured below are a few of the Sunburst Vs with the lighter reddish-brown outer edging finish. Other than the two that I own (including the 1966 Prototype), most have broken and repaired headstocks.
Serial Number: 000292. Here is another super-clean V that I just acquired in January 2019. It a Batch #2 V. It's got a great story. The gentleman that I bought it from got it from a U.S. Sailor in 1969 who was re-deployed to Scotland and wanted to sell it before he left. The gentleman plays bass and didn't really play it, so it essentially sat in his closet, in storage, for 50 years. Wow ! This one is super clean, all original, and totally unmolested. It has its original case that's in great condition. Thank you Thomas for selling me this incredible V ! Posted January, 2019.
Notice the large U-shaped neck shelf. This is typical for the Batch #2 Cherry and Sunburst Vs.
Serial Number: 0002xx. This fantastic guitar was previously owned by Albert Molinaro of Elite Guitars. This V is factory original and completely unmolested. It is one of the cleanest Batch #2 Sunburst Vs on the planet. The photos below were used by permission. Thanks Albert. Posted March 2019.
Serial Number: 005xxx. This guitar was routed for a third pickup then restored with a replacement pickguard. It also has a severely cracked headstock and had Grovers at one time.
Notice the original pickguard, third humbucker and stop bar tailpiece added in place of the ABR-1 bridge. This guitar has since been "restored" as shown above. At one time "lightning bolts were in." Ha ! The Sunburst prototype also has a lightning bolt sticker.
Serial Number: 00029x. Notice the lighter reddish-brown outer edging finish. This one has had a headstock repair. It is most-likely a Batch #2 Sunburst V due to the 0002xx series serial number associated with the early production batches.
Another Sunburst Flying V with the lighter reddish-brown outer edging. Notice the non-original parallelogram fret inlays and added neck binding. The neck was also refinished. Unfortunately, the serial number was sanded off when the neck was refinished.
Eric Johnson's 1967 Sunburst Flying V. Serial number unknown. Notice the gold Top Hat knobs and short style Vibrola bar. Only two of the 1960's Flying Vs are known to have the shorter Vibrola base plate. This V is one of them. This is a very recent picture. Posted: June 2014.
Serial Number: 000271. Here is another Batch #2 Sunburst Flying V. The current owner played over 100 gigs with this V over 20 years ago. It has seen lots of stage wear over the years. This one has had the stop bar tailpiece mod and the Grover mod, both of which have been returned to original. Thanks Richard. Posted October, 2018
Eric Johnson with his '67 Sunburst Flying V and one of his Cadillacs. This is a fairly old picture, probably from the late 1990's.
One of Rudolph Schenker's Sunburst Flying Vs. He has two of them. Both have pickup mounting rings that were added.