Features — 10
These guitars were created in a very limited run in 2013, and are one of the "fancier" Flying V's made in quite a while. It's a typical '68 style Flying V, with 22 frets on a 24.75" scale length, with a 1-11/16" nut width and a 12" radius fretboard. The neck and body are mahogany with a "chechen rosewood" fretboard that has a nice, interesting figure to it.
The neck and body are both bound with a cream binding, and being a '13, the binding does go over top of the frets. All of these guitars have a "nocturnal brown" top which is virtually black, and a lighter brown stain on the back/sides of the guitar, and the back of the neck, while the most striking visual difference is the unique pickguard featuring a diamond and stripe pattern around it's perimeter. The guitar has the typical tune-o-matic and stop tail piece, as well as the usual HH configuration (featuring a pair of Alnico V PAF's), and traditional Kluson tuners, with gold tophat style knobs for electronic controls.
All in all, this is guitar is a striking departure from the normal Flying V reissues, or the faded series that have been released in the last few years. It is certainly one of the more attention-grabbing Flying V's, alongside 2014's Brendan Small signature Snowfalcon Flying F.
Sound — 7
The classy looks of this guitar carry through to its sound. These PAF's have a powerful, clear low end making the guitar ideal for blues, and classic rock. I personally only use this guitar for recording because though it is very good at what it does, it's something of a one-trick pony - these pickups would not be well suited to high-gain metal, nor particularly strong for twangier country or blues. If you're looking for a warm, round, growling tone this guitar would suit you perfectly, but it's not nearly as aggressive sounding as other Flying V's. This guitar matches beautifully with my Silvertone 1484 but unless you're looking for a dirty, gritty, low-end saturating guitar tone this should probably not be your first hoie.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I've never been particularly fond of Gibson's factory set up, but I also purchased this guitar used so I can not speak to it's factory set up. When I got it, the pickups weren't in any imminent need of adjustment but likewise, I'm not certain whether this was the previous owner, or Gibson's work.
I haven't come across any significant flaws in the wood of the neck, back of fingerboard, nor any real trouble with the binding. I'm personally not a fan of bound-over frets but your mileage may vary. The somewhat flatter 12" fingerboard radius is a welcome change, as is the relatively slim neck profile, however I tend to prefer satin-finished necks as gloss necks always feel somewhat "sticky" to me. That said, even with the gloss neck and over-fret binding, this guitar plays like a dream. There's nothing in the action or fit that would slow down any quick lead-licks, though the pickups don't seem to support any truly ambitious playing.
Reliability & Durability — 9
All of the hardware on this guitar seems perfectly solid to me. The knobs fit perfectly to the body, the pickups and bridge all adjust nice and smooth. I would have no problem gigging with this guitar (except my fear of rushing the back up or dinging the finish!). That said, it doesn't seem like the finish would wear particularly quickly. It's as resistant to dings as any other guitar, and it seems like it would last significantly longer than the finish on my faded series Vs.
If I were to gig with this guitar, I would swap the strap buttons out for something with locks, but I do this on all of my gigging guitars.
Overall Impression — 8
For blues, or lo-fi indie blues rock this guitar is spectacular. Pumped through my Silvertone or my Twin Reverb this guitar shines in recording, but I am typically a lead player, and reserve this guitar for either rhythm tracking, or very specific lead tones. I've been playing guitar for ten years now and I've had more than my fair share of guitars in that time; this is one of my favorites but I would choose my Westone X390, or one of my faded series V's over this one every time for sound, and to an extent for playability (I do like the flatter radius on this guitar over my faded series guitar, but my hand has become accustomed tot he satin necks).
I can't say I'd actively seek out a replacement for this guitar if it were lost or stolen. It's a nice guitar, and I enjoy owning and playing it but unless I could get it for the sort of price I acquired this one for, I wouldn't buy it again. With a set of Burstbuckers, or a 496R/500T set this guitar would be perfect, but I'm not comfortable with switching parts on a guitar like this one.