February 24, 2009 You can often tell a lot about what a guitarist is about to do just by looking at the axe he's chosen for the gig. If it's a Flying V, he's here to rock, and he doesn't care who knows it. If it's got a big round wooden face with f-holes and a scratch plate, he's here to jazz out with some fruity 13-chords. If it's a seven-string Ibanez with a whammy bar and it looks like it's been dragged backwards through a paint shop, he's gonna shred and finger-tap until somebody's face falls off. But what can you say about a guy who turns up with a Gibson Holy Explorer?

Guitar purists will look at the Holy Explorer, and ask why the hell would Gibson cut holes in its beautiful mahogany body - after all, the resonance of fine wood is part of the reason you'd buy an upmarket guitar to start with. Chopping seven gaping gaps into the wood of a well-loved guitar shape - with no sonic benefit in mind - and then charging an extra US$376 for it seems like the most brazen sort of insult.

But perhaps the Holy Explorer has its own upsides. The look is certainly eye-catching - the new guitar coming across almost as futuristic and striking as the original Explorer shape was in 1958. The chunky blocks of mahogany that have been removed help the Holy Explorer down to one of the lowest fighting weights ever for a Gibson, and.... well, you could probably hang your socks on it to dry.

Controls are minimalist - a volume knob and a tone switch - and the fitout includes a rosewood neck with 22-fret superfast rosewood fingerboard, six in-line mini Grover tuners, and two ceramic Humbucker pickups: a 496R in the neck and a 500T in the bridge.

This isn't the first time Gibson have made a special edition just by cutting holes in an old favourite - the Flying V got the same treatment not so long ago.

So what would this limited-edition US$2,775 oddity say about its owner? That he's willing to embrace new ideas, or that he's willing to sacrifice tone for looks? We're not sure, but as gadget-heads we'd have to say Gibson's Robot Guitar technology is a lot more interesting.

Loz Blain

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