Vintage Vibes: 1976 Gibson Limited Edition Explorer Mahogany

VINTAGE VIBES: 1976 Gibson Limited Edition Explorer Mahogany

Call Nathaniel an explorer, because he takes this ‘76 Limited Edition Gibson Explorer and its retro-style, chunky neck on a trip to the edge and back with characteristic precision. Acquired on a recent vintage buying trip, this particular Limited Edition Explorer is one of the finest examples we’ve ever had. It sold within 48 hours.

Have a vintage Gibson like this? Call us to speak to one of our experts about your sale and trade options.

Nathaniel Murphy describes the 1976 Limited

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We love Gibson Explorers, and the vintage buyers are always on the search for the next one, scouring the earth for them. Funnily enough, just last week, on one of their buying trips, they came across this really great example of a Limited Edition 1976 Explorer. And thankfully, they've brought it back with them.

Now, it was only in the store for 48 hours–if that–before it sold. So, we decided to do a quick demo video with it before it's shipped off to its new home.

There's a lot of information out there on these Explorers, some of it conflicting, but here are some interesting tidbits. According to the Gibson shipment total ledgers, which aren't necessarily 100% accurate, they only shipped out 22 of the original Explorers between '58 and '59, and those, of course, were made out of Korina wood.

In 1976, they re-released the Explorer in a natural finish, but these were made out of standard mahogany, instead. They shipped out approximately 1800 of these Explorers. Although this is unconfirmed, almost half of them didn't say "Limited Edition" on the back of the headstock next to the serial number.  

The most significant difference between standard Explorers and the Limited Edition ones is the neck profile. Clearly, the Limited edition ones are a representation of the original '50s Explorers because their necks are quite large.

In fact, Gibson definitely got carried away at some point with these Limited Edition ones, because the necks actually got so big that they started to dwarf the original '50s ones. This Limited Edition Explorer definitely has a '50s profile, because it's got one of those huge baseball bat-type necks. It's actually very comparable to an original '58 that I've had the pleasure of playing here at the store.

One of the most famous examples of these Explorers is owned and played by, of course, the Edge. He's used it in most of the U2 recordings, if not all of them, and he played it for the majority of his tours until he later retired it from the road and kept it for studio recordings only.

The Edge put one of his Limited Edition Explorers up for auction to benefit a non-profit organization that helped musicians replace their instruments that were damaged or destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. It managed to fetch $240,000. James Hetfield of Metallica also owned and played one of these Limited Edition Explorers. His, of course, was refinished in black. Or, should I say, blackened.

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