Unique, Incomparable & Quite Possibly The Coolest Guitar Model Gibson Has Made

Music

As a guitar player I’ve always enjoyed the sleek curves and stylish presence that the Gibson Explorer exudes. The first time I laid eyes on one was in middle school while visiting Guitar Center. Nothing else compared. With such a modern look it is surprising for most to learn that the Explorer models date as far back as the 1950s.

In the late 1950’s Gibson released the Explorer guitar as one of their new ultra-modern design concepts. During this same time the Flying V was also released. A third model called the Moderne was also designed but never made it past the prototype phase.

Original Explorer models had very limited runs during this era. This model was designed in 1957 and less than 50 guitars were shipped from Gibson’s factory in 1958 and 1959. Because it is so rare, an Explorer produced between 1958 and 1960 is valued at about $300,000 to $600,000 depending on condition.

Each Explorer was expertly crafted using two PAF humbuckers, korina wood for the body, a stopbar tailpiece and tune-o-matic bridge. Not bad for a guitar made almost 60 years ago.

Gibson Re-releases The Explorer

Gibson Explorer Natural Finish
Gibson Explorer Natural Finish

After a short premier the Explorer went out of production until the mid 1970’s (1975 to be exact). Gibson made a few changes to the Explorer’s design in 1981, including “Dirty Finger” humbucker pickups (uncovered), a maple neck with Ebony fingerboard, and chrome-plated hardware.

The brand continued to produce Explorers until 2012. Currently you can order this model on the Gibson website for about $1,200.

The Players Behind The Guitar

There have been a number of players who have made the Explorer their go to ax. Some of the more notable Rock Stars include The Edge, Billy Gibbons, and James Hetfield. Not bad for a guitar that has gone out of production twice.

Gibson Explorer Prices

I am always on the look out for one of these iconic guitars. It can be a bit scary buying one on the secondary market if you don’t know the value of what yoi are buying.

I’ve looked around the web and compiled what I feel are fair values for different model years of each Gibson Explorer. If you are in the market to buy one check the below first to make sure you aren’t paying premium prices for your next pre-owned Gibson.

1958 $3,000 – $600,000
1959 $3,000 – $600,000
1960 $3,000 – $600,000

1975 $2,500 – $3,500
1976 $2,500 – $3,500
1980 $1,600 – $2,100
1981 $1,500 – $2,000
1982 $1,500 – $2,000
1983 $1,000 – $1,500
1984 $1,000 – $1,700
1985 $1,000 – $1,500
1986 $800 – $1,300
1987 $800 – $1,300
1988 $800 – $1,300
1989 $800 – $1,300
1990 $800 – $1,200
1991 $800 – $1,300
1992 $800 – $1,300
1993 $800 – $1,300
1994 $800 – $1,300
1995 $800 – $1,200
1996 $800 – $1,300
1997 $800 – $1,200
1998 $800 – $1,300
1999 $600 – $900
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004 $1,300 – 1,800
2005 $800 – $1,200
2006 $800 – $1,200
2007 $800 – $1,400
2008 $615 – $910
2009 $800 – $1,200
2010 $800 – $1,200
2011 $800 – $1,200
2012 $735 – $1,100

*You may have noticed that I have a gap between 2000 and 2003, which is because I wasn’t able to find what I felt was a large enough sample size of guitars to give a range. If you have a good source for these please comment below.

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