Flying V review by Maya

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 5
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (2 votes)
Maya: Flying V

Features — 8
Flying V, made by Maya, Kobe, Japan, 1983. Pretty much like a modern Gibson Flying V 120 CW. The only visible differences are: strap buttons on both "wings," slightly rounder top of the head, and of course, Maya instead of Gibson. And the tuners are a few millimeters further up than original. The rest looks totally legit. 22-fret, fretboard seems rosewood, but it's quite dark. Inset neck. Rest of guitar is all mahogany. Colour scheme is the same as Gibson's Classic white, all in CW, white pickguard, black knobs with silver on top, white 3-way selector. All hardware in chrome, original passive humbucker pickups also in chrome casings. Bridge is all chromed tune-o-matic with stopbar. Tuners are no-name original, very soft. Guitar came with a case. I rate this guitar very high: if somebody changed the tussrod cover with Gibson's and place it among originals, it would take an experienced eye to tell them apart.

Sound — 5
I play thrash metal, but also a lot of rock/blues when I feel like it. I expect my guitar to be able to deliver what I want in both worlds. I don't play solos, more like rhythm, sometimes slide. I have a kustom tube amp, but when I last played this guitar when it was owned by my previous band in 1998, it was a mosfet no-name cheapo-chineso-peace-of-sheeto 60W, and a Marshall Shred Master. The guitar delivers a very rich Gibson-like growl, with a pinch of an "anvil" ring, kinda like SG Gibson in AC/DC. There is not much softness in clean sounds, give her a bit of distortion and she'll roar. All mahogany body gives her beautiful sustain, but the pickups also give her too much feedback, so if you don't play, anything over 50W means you have to muffle the strings otherwise this guitar will pierce your eardrums. Previous owner solved this by changing the original humbucker with an active Screaming Eagle by Seymour Duncan - which produces NO clean sound, but give it some gain on a tube amp and it will sound like a jumbo-jet on takeoff. At the moment I have the original pickups back in, but they will be replaced with Gibson's originals. The guitar is very well made and it deserves good hardware. I rate it poorly because of bad pickups, but they are 31 years old, went through hell and back, maybe when new, were they any better?

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Absolutely nothing had to be changed, action is spot-on. Pickups need to be kicked in the groins and out of this guitar, but the rest of it was 100% perfect. The guitar's geometry is perfect, very light and superbly balanced. Gibson Flying V's have the "wing" strap button somewhere in the middle to prevent it from nose-diving when you let go of the neck. Maya however, has strap button right on the tip of the "wing" but if you let go of the neck, the head won't move anywhere.

To prevent paint chipping, strap buttons have a plastic washer. And Maya has 3: both "wings" have a strap button so when you hit someone on the forehead, you'll crack the skull but not ship the paint. The guitar has some bruises, but that only makes it more beautiful.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar not only withstood harsh thrashing environment, it withstood being thrown all over the backstage (drunk guitarist blamed his guitar for playing the wrong song). Maya has earned her "flying wings" in real combat, so to speak. Excellent performing guitar. The tuners, however, have seen better days and don't hold so strong anymore, so they will be replaced with new ones. 

Now get this: this Maya was put in its case in 2000, not to be opened till the day I got it, in 2014. 14 years of having strings attached and tuned. In a mouldy suitcase. All metal parts rusted. I thought she's a gonner. But get this: The neck remained STRAIGHT after 14 years! Chrome parts were polished, strings replaced, even the buttons and switch remained the same, only a bit of cleaning needed and they work like new. The only thing that needed replacement was the output jack. That one was rusted beyond its worth. This is all-mahogany woodwork and Japanese samurai-bushido-handcraft skill for ya. If I could give this guitar a 12, I'd wish for 14.

Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is a metalhead's dream come true. Since the Kobe factory disappeared in the earthquake, Mayas are getting rare. A superb one would cost you up to 700$ according to eBay, while a battered one like mine is 100 at most. This is the closest to Gibson you'll ever get - without paying for a Gibson. I must be honest - after seeing what this guitar can withstand and still work so beautifully, I really want to know what Gibson has to offer to top this. I played Les Paul, SG and RD, but frankly never an original Flying V. All Gibsons so far met my expectations, they are truly superb guitars. But Maya comes dangerously close. Maya Flying V can sound like Angus Young's or Tony Iommi's SG when treated properly, but it is a featherweight guitar compared to Gibsons, which are sometimes too heavy for my taste. I'm not a very good guitarists and I don't like to have too much to do with the guitar itself. I like it to be light, not to hurt my neck and dislocate my shoulder, I like the neck to be nice and thin, strings to feel soft and willing on the frets. And Maya delivers.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    I bought one of these (all white) in Bogota, Colombia in 1988. I'm not sure what the manufacture date or model number are. Shortly after I got it, the strap slipped off and it fell face-first onto a brick garage floor. Cracked the neck binding around the first few frets, but still played OK. I played the hell outta that thing and the neck was fantastic, even after that little mishap. Very early on, I replaced the bridge pickup with a no-name humbucker, and it was then much hotter than the stock chrome-covered soapbar. Sold it to a buddy a few years back and he played it in a shitty gutter punk band for many years (recording with it, even). I think his daughter owns it now, but I wonder if it's still playable. It got pretty abused over the years. It was great for me, though, back when I was first learning.