sThe last batch of 35 Gibson Flying V's (Batch #5) were all finished in Walnut and built in 1969. All of them shipped in 1970. Strangely enough, they all have 1968 serial numbers. The finish is also called Natural Walnut. These gems are rare.....there are only 35 of them on the planet. Gibson started using this finish on many of their other guitars around the same time, including the ES-335 and SG, etc. There are several distinct characteristics of this last batch of V's. They have a three-piece neck. They have the short neck shelf like the V's from Batch #1. The front of the headstock is the same color as the rest of the guitar (walnut), whereas all of the other Flying Vs, have a black headstock front. The tuners say Gibson Deluxe not Kluson Deluxe. And finally, they have a large rounded neck which was typical of all 1969 Gibson guitars. The larger neck is highly desired by most players. Leslie West, the guitar player from the rock band Mountain, had two 1969 Walnut Flying Vs that he used in the early 1970's. Both were heavily modified. Also, Marc Bolan of T. Rex fame, owned a 1969 Walnut V that he played in the 1970's. Some of the 1969 Walnut Flying Vs came with the standard Faultless square case and others came with a yellow lined tear drop case. The 1969 yellow lined tear drop case was the predecessor to the 1971 Flying V Medallion purple lined tear drop case. Pictured below are several Walnut examples.
However, there are a few exceptions. There were at least four Gibson Flying Vs that were probably built as Batch #3 or Batch #4 guitars that were all walnut. They also have black headstocks which makes them rather unique. One of them has the longer U shaped neck joint, indicating Batch #3. The other three have the longer V shaped neck shelves. Two of them have very high serial number (954860 and 954861) and were probably two of the last Flying Vs that was built from Batch #4. All four guitars could also be 1967 Flying V that were completed in 1969 and shipped from the factory in 1970 with the rest of the Batch #5 Walnut Vs. But, since all four Vs have all of the characteristics of the Batch #3 and #4 Flying Vs, that is most-likely what they are. Note: Gibson did not start using the all walnut finish until 1969, which is another clue as to their year of origin. These unique walnut Gibson Flying Vs are documented in detail, towards the bottom of this web page. ____________________________________________________________________________
Serial Number 90709x. A nice example that I have owned for over 10 years. I bought this guitar from a dealer in Tokyo, Japan. It had Grover tuners installed at one time. This is the best playing Flying V that I have ever played!
Notice the three piece neck in the below Picture.
Notice the short neck shelf. The short neck shelf only appeared on Batch 1 and 5.
Serial Number: 926930. This is probably the cleanest '69 Walnut Flying V on the planet. It was sold in Japan in 2010. The case in non-original.
Serial Number: 907116. This guitar was owned by Marc Bolan of T-Rex back in the 1970's. After his death in 1977 it changed hands several times. In April, 2007 it sold at Christies Auction House in England for $72,180.
Pictured below are a few shots of Marc Bolan with his Walnut V. Some of these pictures would have been taken prior to 1977 when he died in a car accident.
Serial Number: 906948. A very nice example that surfaced in 2012 and was privately sold. The original ABR-1 bridge was removed back in the early 1970's and was replaced with a Gibson Harmonica style bridge. Other than that it is all original.
Here are some pics of the same guitar shown above with the Harmonica style bridge replaced with the correct ABR-1 bridge.
Serial Number: 907212. Another nice example that surfaced in England in 2011 and sold soon thereafter. Notice the pickguard mod in the area of the bridge position pickup (additional adjustment screws added).
This guitar has surfaced twice over the past 11 years. It is currently owned by a collector who lives in Canada. This one is in rough condition.
Serial Number : 907600. This guitar was refinished cherry and then refinished again back to Walnut.
Notice the cherry stain in the area of the serial number from one of the refin jobs.
Serial Number: 908965: This is one of the 1969 Walnut Vs that Leslie West used in the early 1970's. It was heavily modified, ie: Schaller tuners added, Vibrola tremelo unit removed and Stop Bar tailpiece added, and finally the bridge position humbucking pickup was removed and a dog-ear P-90 was added in it's place.
Here is another really good picture of the same V that was taken way back in 1974. Thanks Albert.
Leslie West's other 1969 Walnut Flying V was called the "Ash Tray". It was also heavily modified. The front humbucking pickup was removed and the hole left open. He actually dumped his cigarette ashes in the hole, thus the name "The Ash tray". It also had a dog ear P-90 installed at the bridge position just like his other one. The ABR-1 Bridge was removed and a Stop Bar Tailpiece was installed in its place. The lone P-90 was wired direct to the P-90's volume and tone pots. The other pot and pickup selector switch were removed. See picture below.
Serial Number: 907023. Here is another nice, clean '69 Walnut Flying V from Sweden that the current owner purchased from a music store in London, England in 1986. Pickup covers removed. The truss rod cover and knobs are non-original. Thanks Johnny.
Serial Number: 907030. This is the story of the '69 Walnut Flying V that was once owned by Rickey Medlocke who is now playing with Lynyrd Skynard. Back in 1979 the guitar was stolen off the tour bus when he was with the band Blackfoot. After 34 years, the guitar carcus (body only) and case were discovered at a garage sale in August, 2013 and purchased for $5. Wow, what a find ! In December 2013 the owner put the guitar carcus and case, as pictured below, on E-bay. The V carcus and case sold for $4600. The case was stamped with the Blackfoot logo. Before the V was sold on E-bay, the seller sent several correspondences to Medlocke's agent. The agent confirmed the guitar use to be Medlocke's and he offered the owner a finder's fee offer of $2400. The offer was rejected. The current owner that bought the guitar off E-bay had the guitar restored to its former glory in April 2014. Scroll down to continue reading more of this amazing story about of this Flying V. 4/2014.
This is how the guitar carcus and case appeared when they were sold on E-bay in December 2013.
Notice the Blackfoot logo on the non-original mid-1970's Flying V case.
The story continues........The current owner walked into a once-famous guitar restoration shop in Los Angeles call Valdez's, and started sorting through a bunch of old boxes loaded with guitar parts, and guess what he found.......He found all of the original parts that use to be on this exact guitar decades ago. The parts included all of the electronics, pickups, tuners, vibrola bar, truss rod cover and pickguard. WOW, what an amazing story. After several decades of being separated, the original parts were reinstalled on the V carcus in April 2014. See the pics below. Thank you Nicholas for the pics and the rest of this amazing story. 4/2014
The story continues........Alan Collins of Lynyrd Skynard was pictured playing this same guitar in the early 1970's (probably 1971). See pics below. Rickey Medlocke let him borrow the guitar for a few years from 1969 to 1971. During that time Rickey played drums for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Notice the guitar has a Hopf tremelo unit. Some of the screw holes from the Hopf tremelo unit correspond to the filled-in screw holes on the same guitar pictured above. Some sources say the V pictured below was actually black, but recent events, including Rickey Medlocke's agent authenticating the guitar, would indicate it is most-likely the same walnut Flying V pictured below. 4/2014.
Serial number unknown. Here is a '69 Walnut that has a modified tailpiece. One of Rudolph Schenker's sparkling burgundy Vs has the same style of modified tailpiece.
Serial Number: 906932 Here is another beautiful, totally original Batch #5 Walnut Flying V. This guitar is issue free and has it's original square case. Thanks Dan. Posted 11/7/15.
Latest Edition, added Sept. 2017: Serial Number: 906966 Here is an amazing V. This is perhaps the first of the Batch 5 Walnut Vs produced. This is the only one that has ever surfaced with a black headstock front . This V has all of the characteristics of the Batch 5 Walnut Vs except for the black headstock, Kluson tuners (not Gibson) and the multi-colored wiring harness like the Vs from Batches 1 - 4. All of the other Batch 5 Walnut Vs that have surfaced have the wiring harness with all yellow wiring. Also, notice the short neck shelf which is typical for all Batch 5 Vs.
Sold in September of 2017. Images provided by Atoyboy Guitars in England. Thanks Mike. Posted Sept. 2017.
Short neck shelf typical of all Batch 5 Walnut Flying Vs.
Serial Number : 954861. This is one of only four Batch #3 or Batch #4 Gibson Flying Vs with an all walnut finish and black headstock. This guitar has all of the distinct features of the later Batch #3 and Batch #4 Flying Vs, including the longer V shaped neck shelf. It also has a one piece neck, multi-colored wires used on the electronics, black headstock, Kluson Deluxe tuners and wider Vibrola plate. It also has the second-highest 1966 - 1969 serial number I have ever seen from Batches 1 - 4 (954861). Another Walnut Flying V with black headstock was probably made at the same time as this one. Its serial number is 954860. It is also featured below. The common serial numbers from Batches #3 and #4 were 920xxx, 932xxx, 940xxx and 95xxxx. Due to it's higher serial number, this guitar was perhaps one of the last of the Batch #4 Flying Vs. It could also be a 67 V that was later completed in 1969 with the rest of the Batch #5 Walnut Vs, but that is sheer speculation. The pickup rings rings shown in the picture below are not original and were added sometime before 1994.
Thanks to Francesco for providing the pictures of this amazing guitar that he purchased in 1994.
The owner just recently removed the pickup mounting rings. Wow....what a beauty. 8/2013
Notice the long V shaped neck tenon, typical of later Batch #3 and all Batch #4 guitars.
Notice the Kluson Deluxe tuners and one piece neck.
Serial number 954860: Here is the twin brother of the guitar pictured above (954861). Both of these guitars were probably built at the same time. It is all original with the unfortunate exception that 4 additional screws were added to the pickguard. Notice the black headstock. Thanks for the pictures Janice. This guitar was owned by her late husband. Posted Feb 2017.
Serial number: 932592. Here is another really cool walnut Flying V from Batch #4. This one has a factory black stinger. This is the only non-sparkling burgundy Gibson Flying V that I have ever seen with a factory stinger. It also has a gap serial number like the Hendrix Sunburst Flying V. The current owner purchased this guitar second-hand in 1967. Just think....he has owned this guitar for 47 years. Thanks for the pics John. April, 2014
Serial Number unknown. Here is another Walnut Gibson Flying V that was most-likely built as a Batch #3 guitar. This guitar has all of the same characteristics as the three Walnut Vs described above with the exception of the neck joint. This guitar has the longer, U shaped neck shelf which means it is probably an early Batch #3 guitar. The pickguard on the guitar featured below was changed to a 1975 era type. This guitar, as well as the three described above, are the only four non-Batch #5 walnut Flying Vs that I know of. Perhaps another will surface over the next few years.
Notice the extra visible wood between the lower edge of the Vibrola plate and the pickguard just above the toggle switch and upper knob. This indicates a smaller, 1975 era pickguard has been installed. You can barely see one of the mounting holes for the larger original pickguard.
Notice the larger U shaped neck shelf indicating an early Batch #3 guitar.
Notice the Black headstock. This guitar also has the small black truss rod mounting screws indicative of some Batch #3 and Batch #4 Flying Vs. This one also escaped the dreaded Grover mod.