The Gibson USA Moderne captures the look, feel and sound of the original, and puts it in the hands of players today. Moderne, a musical chimera, shrouded in the silvered mists of myth and legend, the Gibson Moderne has long been known as the enigmatic "guitar that never was"... or, was it? Designed as the third member of a trio of guitars in the new Modernist Series, prototypes of which were displayed at the 1957 NAMM show, the Moderne was originally intended to be the sibling of the Flying V and the Explorer, but never made it off the launch pad the way the other two then-futuristic classics did.
Although they are iconic symbols of rock guitar today, even the Flying V and Explorer were too far ahead of their time in the late '50s, and fewer than 200 units of both types were made in their original three-year run before deletion from the catalog in 1960. Perhaps Gibson foresaw that a third Modernist was pushing it just too far? Or did a poor early reaction to the guitar lead to its demise? Ted McCarty, president of Gibson at the time, has said a number of Modernes were made; other tales tell of prototypes and raw bodies being burned in a bonfire at Kalamazoo after early showings failed to set the guitar world alight.
Whatever the real story—and perhaps it is lost forever to the mists of time—the Moderne is perhaps rarest and most elusive Gibson guitar ever created. Or was, until now.