A couple of days ago I took my guitar to be refretted and set up by my friend and tech Yair Smoilov. As we talked, he told me an amazing story about a very unique repair job he's done. This was such an amazing story, that I had to share it. I took the trouble to translate the V2 story to English, as I suspect most of you can't read Hebrew. it's long, so just be patiant. It's worth it.
Gary's Gibson Flying V2
The story of this special electric guitar began a long time ago. I met Gary a couple of years ago. He has recently immigrated to Israel from the US. Gary was born and raised in Detroit, and was highly influenced by the sound of Motown. He has played music professionally for all of his life, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Temptations, Sly and the Family Stone, Funkadelic, Three Dog Night, The James Gang, and many more. His amazing Gibson Flying V was made in 1980 and is a V2 model. The V2 was made only between 1979-1981. Its body is made out of 5 alternating layers of solid maple and mahogany. The neck is made with the same woods, with an ebony fingerboard. The bridge and tailpiece are brass. The pickups are single-coils, and are V shaped, as you can clearly see in the photos.
A year ago I fixed the broken neck of a Les Paul. After seeing that repair work, Gary told me he had a project for me. He said, "You're a real artist Yair, and I have something really interesting for you".
"Interesting", I said, "What does that mean?"
He then started telling me the story of that particular guitar: "About 25 years ago I had three main guitars I used to play: a Les Paul, an Explorer E2 and this V2. I would play all 3, using each for its own distinctive sound and feel. As things turned out, this V2 was smashed to pieces by my 1st wife. The neck was completely disengaged from the body and the body was broken into 3 major pieces and a lot of small splinters. Many small pieces were gone altogether. It was very hard for me to see this lovely instrument in this horrible situation, so I panicked and tried to put it back together again, but I did a very messy job. When the glue has hardened, I saw that the pieces didn't match. As sad as I was, I had a strong feeling that this guitar will play again, some day in the future. I put it back into the case, and closed the lid on it. But", he stressed once more, " I knew it will play again some day."
"A lot of years have gone by, I had the V2 case with me all of the time, and when I came to live in Israel in 2009, I took it with me. I had a lot on my mind, and other things to attend to, but now, after I saw this Les Paul neck repair job that you've done, I know that you're the one to revive my loved V2 and bring it back from the grave."
As I listened to Gary's tale, I understood that this was a unique story, and, indeed, a very interesting project for me. I could repair this instrument and bring happiness to a dear friend.
"I'll bring you the V2 the next time we meet", said Gary, "You can tell me then what you think about it".
"Sure thing", I said.
A couple of weeks later, Gary brought me the V2 in its case. As I opened the case, I was hit with a strong scent of mold. What was once a limited production custom made Gibson guitar was now covered with mildew: guitar, case, and all. "This looks bad". I thought. Gary must have read my mind. "It waited for 25 years. There's no rush", he said, "Do what you think best". I nodded, saying nothing.
The first thing I did was dry this thing up and clean it. I just put everything out in the open and for a while, and then cleaned it all. After it was clean and dry, I could assess the situation with a clear mind. As I examined the body, I saw that it was, indeed, badly glued together. The problem was that the gluing was very strong. Inaccurate, but strong. I decided not to take it apart, but rather fix what I can, add the missing parts, and try to get it back to balance. I peeled whatever survived of the original lacquer, and glued the neck back to its place. Gluing the neck to the body was, by itself, a very demanding project, as the area where these two parts meet was broken as well. The neck, fretboard, and frets had to be re-adjusted, because all were warped by time and humidity. I had to do a lot of small adjustments to the body, to keep the general balance and feel of the guitar. I had to clean all of the brass parts, so they could shine again, and had to repair some of the brass parts, as they, too, were damaged by the fall. This was not a fixing job. It was a re-birth, a renaissance, of a vintage masterpiece.
A couple of days before his birthday, I met Gary and gave him the closed case with the guitar inside. He took it expecting the worst. After 25 years of waiting, he just didn't know what to expect. After a while, and not without some pressure on my behalf, Gary held his breath and opened the case. His eyes lit immediately.
"This is my guitar", he said, "you brought it back to me. It looks just like I remember it to be. It's amazing".
"Well", I said, "it's time to Rock-n-Roll. Plug it in".
That night, Gary played the V2. After the show he came to me and gave me a big hug. "It looks and feels just like I remember it", he said, "I knew this guitar will come back one day, and the day has come. It's fantastic. I'm so happy, and I'm also happy that it's you who's made this dream come true".