Gibson Flying V Setup Specifications

By Larry Rivers
Despite their unusual shape, Gibson Flying V's can be very playable.

Gibson guitars are renowned for their tone and playability and considered highly collectible. Introduced in 1958 the Gibson Flying V model was ahead of its time and sold poorly, with only an estimated 100 built during its first production year. The Flying V gained popularity with its 1967 re-issue and association with artists such as Jimi Hendrix. Gibson Flying V's can be setup for excellent playability and tone.

Truss Rod Adjustment

The Flying V features an internal truss rod in the neck, allowing the neck's bow to be adjusted. Increased string tension will increase the neck's bow, and additional truss rod pressure might be required to straighten the neck. By pressing the strings down at the first and last frets, the guitar neck's bow, or relief, can be seen when looking sideways at the neck across the fretboard. Flying V's should be set with a 3/64-inch relief at the 12th fret on the treble side and a 5/64-inch relief at the 12th fret on the bass side.

String Action

The Flying V also features Gibson's Tune-O-Matic bridge, which offers overall string height adjustment. String height from the fretboard, or action, changes the guitar's characteristics and playability and is a subjective setting for most players. Measuring from the string to the 12th fret, the action should not exceed 3/8 of an inch.

String Innotation

Each string saddle on the Gibson Flying V can be adjusted for string innotation, or overall tune with the fretboard. A natural harmonic should be played at the 12th fret, then compared to the fretted note at the same location. Both sounds should be identical. If the fretted note is sharp, back the string saddle away from the fretboard, and if it's flat, bring the string saddle closer to the fretboard.

Pickup Height

Gibson Flying V's also feature two humbucker pickups located in the neck and bridge positions. These pickups must be set to the proper height for optimal tone. Fret all six strings at the highest fret and measure the height between the strings and each pickup. The neck pickup height should be set at 7/16 of an inch and the bridge set to 3/8 of an inch.

About the Author

Larry Rivers has contributed his recording and audio production expertise to Nashville and Los Angeles alt-weeklies as well as industry magazines since 2008. He is a music recording expert, holding a Bachelor of Science in audio production and bringing over 12 years of album production and live sound engineering to his how-to articles.