5 Best Flying V Guitar Reviews in 2020
Since their inception over 60 years ago, Flying V style guitars have become one of the most popular guitars, known for their radical design. The original Gibson guitar has inspired a number of other V-shaped guitars, so if you’re wondering about which one is right for you, we’re here to help.
We’ve researched and compiled a list of the 5 best Flying V guitars that you can buy today.
Top Picks: 5 Best Flying V Guitars Reviews
Gibson is basically a legend when it comes to guitars. Their acoustic and electric guitars have been used by players for more than half a century now, and their quality is world-renowned. Gibson is also the company that invented the ‘Flying V’ style of guitars, used by guitar legends like Hendrix and Michael Schenker, so it’s only natural that they’re still the greatest at it.
This Gibson Flying V model is a reissue of the original 1958 model, which was designed by Ted McCarty in his custom shop, with the classic mahogany body and neck, with a SlimTaper profile that makes it super sleek and easy to play. The rosewood fingerboard is very comfortable and smooth to the touch, with a scale of 24.75” that’s similar to a Les Paul. It has 22 medium jumbo frets, with a Graph Tech nut. According to Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest (1):
It’s unique and innovative, it’s got killer pickups, and a beautiful modern design. It’s the best of every world in my opinion.
Gibson has fitted this guitar with their classic Burstbucker 2 and 3 humbuckers, that sound similar to a PAF pickup, with a perfect balance of volume, clarity, and power. These work well for a variety of genres, from distilled cleans to crunchy hard rock and metal. There’s a 3-way pickup selector switch with independent volume control knobs for each pickup.
If you want a taste of the original Flying V that made history more than 50 years ago, then this is the guitar to go for. The Gibson Flying V was a remarkable innovation for its time, and it still stands the test of time with its exquisite construction, a classic V shaped body that offers superb playability, and amazing humbuckers that reproduce every nuance of your tone. This is simply the greatest ‘Flying V’ guitar you can buy today.
Jackson is known for making high-quality electric guitars, and they redesigned the classic ‘Flying V’ shape that was introduced by Gibson, into a more modern ‘King V’ shape, with slightly sharper edges and longer body wings. This King V shape has grown a lot of popularity amongst guitarists as a more evolved ‘Flying V’. The Jackson JS Series King V JS32 is one of their most affordable guitars of this type.
The JS32 has a poplar body with a bolt-on maple neck, which lends the guitar a nice resonant sound with lasting sustain. The fingerboard consists of amaranth, which is a great material at this price range and is easy to shred on. There are 24 jumbo frets with sharkfin inlays across the 25.5” scale neck, with a 12”-16” compound radius that makes it easy to play fast legato on the higher frets.
Jackson has fitted this guitar with their own in-house High-Output humbuckers that embody the power necessary for high-gain distortion tones for rock and metal. There’s a 3-way pickup selector, and the bridge features a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo with a locking nut and whammy bar so you can add expression to your performance without losing tune.
If you want the classic V-shaped guitar on a budget, then the Jackson JS Series King V JS32 is the safest way to go for you. With a Gibson-inspired design that works very well, great construction quality, great pickup selection, and a licensed Floyd Rose bridge as well, this guitar is a worthy steal at its price point.
3. ESP LTD Vulture Signature Series James Hetfield Electric Guitar – Best For Metal
- Neck: Mahogany
- Scale: 24.75”
- Fretboard: Macassar Ebony
- Frets: X-Jumbo, 22
- Pickup: EMG JH
- Bridge: TonePros Locking Tune-O-Matic
ESP has been collaborating with Metallica frontman and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield for many years now. Their ESP LTD series, including the ESP LTD Arrow, has been very popular amongst Metallica fans and metalheads, and their newest release is the ESP LTD Vulture, which is a Flying V inspired guitar that’s been built to James’ exact specifications.
The Vulture features a mahogany-body and neck, which is a time-tested combination (also found in Gibson’s original) with rich tone and great sustain. The fingerboard consists of Macassar ebony, which offers a sleek performance, along with the standard 24.75″ scale length. There are 22 extra-jumbo frets with dot inlays and a cool ‘vulture’ logo at the 12th fret. This is what YouTube guitarist Agufish had to say about the guitar (2):
The more I played the LTD Vulture, the more it grew on me. The sound, the look, the playability… it’s pretty awesome to play.
This ESP LTD comes with EMG’s signature ‘Het-Set’ active humbuckers, built specifically for James’ sound. They deliver crushing high-gain tones and shimmering cleans equally well. There’s a 3-way toggle switch for the pickup selector, and volume and tone knobs. The bridge is a TonePros locking Tune-O-Matic, with LTD locking tuners on the headstock for a stable tuning.
If you want an electric guitar that can deliver James Hetfield’s signature sound, then you should definitely get the ESP LTD Vulture. With a premium construction, superb playability, fantastic signature humbuckers, and a gorgeous black satin finish, this guitar is simply a beast to play with.
The second guitar on this list by Jackson, the Randy Rhoads RR1 was created in collaboration with the iconic and legendary guitar player back in the 1980s. It’s part of Jackson’s USA Select Series; guitars that are handmade by the top custom shop luthiers and craftsmen in the US. The RR1 was designed with Rhoads based on Gibson’s Flying V shape, but with modifications to its neck, body, and tail fins.
The Jackson Rhoads V-shaped guitar features an exotic tonewood combination; it has an alder body with a quartersawn maple neck for a premium feel and tone. The fingerboard has a 12″-16″ compound radius for better access to higher frets, and an ebony fretboard for smooth performance. There are 22 jumbo frets, and the overall scale of the guitar is 25.5″, which is enough to support lower tunings.
The Jackson Rhoads RR1 features Seymour Duncan’s humbuckers, with a JB TB-4 on the bridge and a Jazz SH-2N on the neck, both offering versatile tones for a variety of genres. This guitar is fitted with an original, licensed FR tremolo bridge for superior performance with an included whammy, a locking nut, and perfect intonation and expression.
Whether you’re a fan of Randy’s virtuoso guitar skills, or you just want a high-quality, well-built guitar designed by the finest engineers, this Jackson Rhoads USA Select RR1 is simply a fantastic choice. It’s constructed with immaculate attention to detail, features top-quality hardware and electronics, and comes in a gorgeous finish with a classic ‘Flying V’ shape that makes it super fun to play all day long.
- Neck: Mahogany
- Scale: 25.5”
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Frets: Medium, 24
- Pickup: Seymour Duncan Live Wire
- Bridge: Tune-O-Matic
Dean Guitars have long been used by many famous artists, and they have created many signature guitar models as well. This Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine Angel Of Deth is another in their long line-up of Dave Mustaine’s signature custom shop guitars, inspired by the original Gibson’s ‘Flying V’ shape. This guitar has been made to shred, according to the Megadeth frontman’s exact specifications.
The Angel Of Deth features a mahogany body and neck, much like the original Gibson Flying V. It has an ebony fretboard for a smooth feel with a radius of 16”. There are 24 medium frets across the 25.5” scale length, with custom pearl inlays. This VMNT guitar has a special ‘D-shaped’ neck that offers a different feel to normal guitars, and is more rounded with a flat fretboard.
Dean has tied up with Seymour Duncan to put their Live Wire humbuckers on this guitar, which offer the grit and power needed to play Megadeth’s crushing riffs and distorted leads. The guitar has 2 volume knobs, a tone knob, and a 3-way toggle switch, with a Tune-O-Matic bridge for stable tunings and perfect intonation.
If you’re a fan of Megadeth’s thrash metal riffs and screaming solos with blazing-fast shreds, then this guitar is built for you. It can handle all the ferocity you throw at it, with a fierce-looking finish that’s sure to stand out on stage, and an uncompromised design that offers maximum playability. It’s a symbol of pure teenage rebellion.
Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right Flying V Guitar For You
Tonewood And Pickups
When choosing a ‘Flying V’ style electric guitar for yourself, it’s important to consider the sound it’ll produce. This is influenced by two factors: the tonewoods used in its construction, and the installed pickups. The tonewoods commonly used in these guitars include mahogany, maple, ebony, poplar, and alder (3).
Generally, it is considered that heavier tonewoods like maple have a different resonance compared to lighter woods, like a basswood body, and hence a different tonality .
With pickups, it’s important to know their sensitivity and output level, and whether they are active or passive. Most Flying Vs have humbuckers, as inspired by the original Gibson design, and offer a clean, strong output that can work well in a variety of genres. Different brands have different tonalities though, and it’s generally possible to change the pickups if you’re not satisfied with them, so keep that in mind.
Feel And Design
When considering Flying V-inspired guitars, the most important aspect is their feel. These guitars have a unique body shape and a very different feel as compared to other electric guitars. Some players find them uncomfortable, especially in the sitting position, while some players love the futuristic design and its slim neck that offers insane playability.
With Flying V style guitars, the ‘classical’ sitting position is generally most comfortable, where the body wings rest on your leg.
Even amongst the V shape guitars on this list, there are some major and minor differences amongst each other. The original design is found on Gibson guitars, while companies like Dean, Jackson, and ESP have created their own spin on the classic ‘V’ shape with slight differences. We recommend trying these guitars out at a local store to see what feels right in your hands.
Yes, V-shaped guitars are comfortable, but it’s quite subjective and depends on player to player. Many guitarists don’t find them comfortable while sitting, but if you sit in the classical position with the guitar balanced on your leg, then yes it can be quite comfortable. And in a standing position, V-shaped guitars are very lightweight, making it easy and comfortable to play for long hours.
Many famous guitarists throughout history have used the original Gibson Flying V guitar, as well as other V-shaped guitars since their inception in 1958. Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Michael Schenker, Randy Rhoads, Hetfield, and Kirk Hammett are just some of the famous guitar players who’ve played V-shaped guitars.
- Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest Demos The Gibson New Flying V. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ2na31tNxM
- ESP LTD James Hetfield Vulture Demo/Review. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBC0e0678K4
- Is Electric Guitar Tone Affected By Different Body Woods?. Retrieved from: https://www.fender.com/articles/tech-talk/do-different-woods-affect-your-electric-guitar-tone