Lots of guitars are visually striking, but few models have boasted as flamboyant image as that of the Gibson Flying V. Introduced in 1958, the Flying V’s futuristic shape, distinctive tone, and mystical allure have made it an instrument of choice for scores of legendary blues and rock artists. Below, we profile 10 noteworthy players who soared on the wings of a Flying V. 

Dave Davies (The Kinks)

Kinks guitarist Dave Davies picked up his famous 1958 Flying V in 1965, while The Kinks were on their first American tour. Davies was soon seen playing the instrument on popular American musical variety TV shows of the day, such as Shindig! and Hullabaloo. Davies was one of the first rock musicians to stir interest in the Flying V among his peers.

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz has owned four 1967 Flying Vs during his career, all in fully original condition. Among the guitars he uses onstage are two of his signature 1967 historic reissues, a model distinguished by its black and gold flake finish, and its “gold mirror” pick guard and truss cover. Speaking with Guitar Center about the signature model, Kravitz said, “The neck size is a dimension I [especially] like. The paint, the hardware, the finish, the sound, the pickups and the weight – that’s basically it.”

K.K. Downing (Judas Priest)

Former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing forged his style using two Flying Vs -- a 1970 model with a Maestro vibrato bar, and a 1964 Limited Edition (one of just 20 produced) fitted with PAF pickups. The latter guitar was his primary instrument during his formative years, as he incorporated such techniques as pinch harmonics and dive bombs into his solos. Downing retired from Judas Priest in April 2011, leaving behind one of metal guitar’s richest bodies of work.

Paul Stanley

Kiss was still a struggling, up-and-coming band when they kicked off their Alive! tour back in 1975. Taking the stage that fall, singer-guitarist Paul Stanley introduced a new friend – his Flying V, widely purported to have been either a 1971 “limited edition” or 1975 model. Going forward, Stanley and his beloved Flying V were virtually inseparable as Kiss exploded into a full-scale rock and roll phenomenon.

Albert King

Albert King

So profound is bluesman Albert King’s association with the Flying V, his grave marker in Arkansas is inscribed with an image of the instrument. King perfected his aggressive style on a 1958 korina V, affectionately dubbed “Lucy.” A special note:  in 1988, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons presented King with a custom-made replica Flying V to mark the blues great’s 65th birthday.

Michael Schenker (UFO)

Michael Schenker

It’s hard to think of a rock guitarist more closely associated with the Flying V than Michael Schenker. During his glory years, Schenker typically ran his Flying V through a wah pedal, creating a distinctive tone that was perfectly suited to his searing style. His sound on the UFO track, “Rock Bottom,” was cited by Guitar Player magazine as one of the 50 greatest guitar tones ever achieved.

Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash)

Andy Powell’s 1967 Flying V has been his go-to guitar ever since he purchased the instrument back in 1971. “I liked the way it played, and how vibrant it felt, even before I plugged it in,” he later told Vintage Guitar. The British guitar great’s love of the Flying V was triggered in part by the influence of Albert King. Speaking with Gibson.com in 2015, Powell described the instrument as his “talisman.”

Grace Potter (Grace Potter & The Nocturnals)

Grace Potter becomes positively effusive when asked about the virtues of the Flying V. In addition to citing it as a perfect fit for her rhythm style, she loves the Flying V’s comfort. “The weight distribution is perfect for dancing around during live shows,” she once told this writer. “The way it hangs off my neck is very comfortable onstage. It’s also exceptionally beautiful.” Gibson honored Potter with her own signature Flying V in 2012.

Lonnie Mack

Lonnie Mack

This pioneering figure in the evolution of blues rock played a Flying V almost exclusively throughout his career. In 1958, Mack bought the seventh Flying V to leave the Gibson factory, in the model’s very first production run. In The Guitar Collection, a two-book photo-essay publication produced in 2011, Mack’s Flying V was featured as one of the world’s 150 most historically significant guitars.

Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix is known to have owned at least three Flying Vs -- a black 1967 model on which he hand-painted psychedelic flourishes, a 1969 tobacco sunburst edition, and a left-hand 1970 model custom-made for him by Gibson. The latter guitar was the instrument he played during his famous Isle of Wight appearance. That guitar – which Hendrix dubbed the “Flying Angel” -- is now housed in the Hard Rock CafĂ© Museum in London.