The Moderne - Holy Grail of Vintage Guitars

LPTDMSV

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The most notable differences would be the extra long tenon and the wiring channel under the pick guard. From a lot of sources we have assumed that the "production" version of the Moderne would probably most resemble the construction of the Explorer.

I will also be designing and building something closer to the proto-type design, which had a larger pickguard a switch like the Explorer and the output jack in the end of the body.
Very interesting. On the prototype version, the switch looks very vulnerable to a player's strumming hand, much more so than an Explorer or an LP - I wonder if that's why they moved it?

But on the (pre-)production/re-issue layout, more wood is being removed near the stop-bar mounting socket, space is even tighter than on the Futura. But I guess there is still enough material there for it to be stable.

The other thing I notice is that the neck/body joint appears to be at the 17th fret, I was expecting it to be 16th like the others!
 

LPTDMSV

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I'll have to chat with Tom and consult my other excellent book, shown closer to the top of this page regarding the tuners. I know Derringer's Explorer was modified quite a bit. I've seen pictures of his guitar with the Grover deluxe tuners with the pearloid buttons. Don't know if those would've been on the original 57 / 58 guitars. They seem to say 59 / 60 as far as issue dates.
Would be very interested to know what Tom thinks, thanks. I'm hoping my copy of the Moderne book will arrive soon, I need some new guitar reading material!
 

LPTDMSV

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I 'd love to do it witha a Gumby headstock, but I don't think it'll function properly with bass strings). Maybe some day!
I don't know where you would find any, but Gibson solved that problem on the original Explorer bass by using banjo-style tuners:

gibson explorer bass 6.JPG
 

pshupe

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Very interesting. On the prototype version, the switch looks very vulnerable to a player's strumming hand, much more so than an Explorer or an LP - I wonder if that's why they moved it?

But on the (pre-)production/re-issue layout, more wood is being removed near the stop-bar mounting socket, space is even tighter than on the Futura. But I guess there is still enough material there for it to be stable.

The other thing I notice is that the neck/body joint appears to be at the 17th fret, I was expecting it to be 16th like the others!
Yeah - the switch is pretty close. I do not think it would bother me, but I am a pretty lame guitarist. ;-)

The control cavity is something I still have to confirm size and location. I just updated it from a scan and need to confirm dimensions. It is quite close but it's not like it is an open route like the pup route on a LP JR. So there is the top wood which would add stability in that area. Also the force is directed in the other direction so it should be totally fine.
Capture.JPG


As far as the neck body join, what do you mean "you expected it to be at 16 like the others"? The Futura was at 16 but the Flying V was between 19 - 20, and the Explorer is at 19. I guess it is like an LP. I've never seen an example of a Moderne build with the body join at the 16th fret.

Capture.JPG


Even if you search out images of re-issues or Norm's rare guitar reviews of the re-issue it is easy to see where the body joins are on these guitars.


Regards Peter.
 

LPTDMSV

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As far as the neck body join, what do you mean "you expected it to be at 16 like the others"? The Futura was at 16 but the Flying V was between 19 - 20, and the Explorer is at 19. I guess it is like an LP. I've never seen an example of a Moderne build with the body join at the 16th fret.
Hello Peter, that's my mistake - I never really looked closely at Moderne pictures before.

Because LPs were a 16-fret join, and so were Futuras, and because the patent/prototype Flying V had that very extended neck heel looking like an adapted 16-fret neck, I presumed that *all* the modernistic prototypes started with a 16-fret join because they wanted to use stock LP necks to build them. Not quite as simple as that :).

The Moderne patent drawing clearly shows the body meeting at the 17th fret (now I look more carefully!) so I guess from the very first example Gibson decided to make that differently, perhaps extending the neck heel like they did for the V but not to such a huge extent? As you've probably read in the @Bill Hicklin Moderne build thread, there are some reasons to believe that the patent drawings are (in most respects) accurate to a functioning prototype guitar. I wish my copy of the @voices Moderne book would hurry up and arrive ...

Patents__57.jpg
 
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pshupe

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You made me go back and check. ;-) I was pretty confident as I would've liked to just modify a Les Paul neck or use the Futura neck I have already designed.

I wish my copy of the @voices Moderne book would hurry up and arrive ...
I wish I could find mine. I had it a couple of days ago and now I can't find it. I lent my Explorer book to Tom Bartlett. I might have to buy a couple more copies.

Cheers Peter.
 

Bill Hicklin

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Hello Peter, that's my mistake - I never really looked closely at Moderne pictures before.

Because LPs were a 16-fret join, and so were Futuras, and because the patent/prototype Flying V had that very extended neck heel looking like an adapted 16-fret neck, I presumed that *all* the modernistic prototypes started with a 16-fret join because they wanted to use stock LP necks to build them. Not quite as simple as that :).

The Moderne patent drawing clearly shows the body meeting at the 17th fret (now I look more carefully!) so I guess from the very first example Gibson decided to make that differently, perhaps extending the neck heel like they did for the V but not to such a huge extent? As you've probably read in the @Bill Hicklin Moderne build thread, there are some reasons to believe that the patent drawings are (in most respects) accurate to a functioning prototype guitar. I wish my copy of the @voices Moderne book would hurry up and arrive ...

View attachment 506400

Mind you, the fret scale in the Moderne patent drawing is all screwed up - in fact, the distance nut-12 is 5/8 of a scale inch longer than 12-bridge!

The hypothesis I put in that thread is that the (outside) draftsman was handed a prototype Vee, Futura/Explorer and neckless Moderne and told "here, draw these." The V and F/E drawings have dead-accurate fret scales, the Moderne is a mess. And, as you mention, I strongly believe they were all 16 frets at the prototype stage precisely because they could use existing LP tooling, not make special jigs for instruments that might never see production.

*If one starts with the drawing's 12-bridge distance as 1/2 standard Gibson scale, the indicated hardware like the P/U covers etc all come out right, and if one bases the neck on the same scale you get 16 frets to the body join.
 

LPTDMSV

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Note that the 1982 Tim Shaw "re"issue Moderne was mostly guesswork; it's not a reference for what the actual '57-'58 prototypes would have been.
Interesting detective work there Bill ...
 

Bill Hicklin

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Shaw had even less information to work with than we do- which boils down to no more than the patent drawing, and the watercolor concept sketch that Walter Carter found in the 90s. Shaw didn't have the watercolor.

It's not like Gibson had a set of blueprints lying around!

As an example of how little Gibson had retained by 1982, according to Shaw his team's primary reference for the re-issue Vee was a period German ad poster- it was the biggest clearest photo of a '58 Vee they could find, not having access to an original.
 
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LPTDMSV

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Just a single '82 Moderne on Reverb right now, in Germany, equivalent price $15,000.00 - zoinks!

Holy grail effect.
 
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pshupe

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Mind you, the fret scale in the Moderne patent drawing is all screwed up - in fact, the distance nut-12 is 5/8 of a scale inch longer than 12-bridge!

The hypothesis I put in that thread is that the (outside) draftsman was handed a prototype Vee, Futura/Explorer and neckless Moderne and told "here, draw these." The V and F/E drawings have dead-accurate fret scales, the Moderne is a mess. And, as you mention, I strongly believe they were all 16 frets at the prototype stage precisely because they could use existing LP tooling, not make special jigs for instruments that might never see production.

*If one starts with the drawing's 12-bridge distance as 1/2 standard Gibson scale, the indicated hardware like the P/U covers etc all come out right, and if one bases the neck on the same scale you get 16 frets to the body join.

Hey Bill - great build thread you have there. I haven't gone through it all recently. My background is Architecture, specifically drafting for construction drawings. My thoughts on those patent drawings, which may be way off, is that they were drawn before any of those guitars were built. There may have been the concept sketches, like the coloured Futura drawing. Once interest or approval to go to the next step, then the patent drawings may have been created. At a similar time they may have done construction drawings, or possibly just had them built. If they were drawn after the guitars were built there would be no need to spend the time to get them correct. Only the important design features needed to be represented in a patent drawing. I wouldn't be surprised if they were all way off, showing them all with 16 fret body joins, or even the wrong number of frets etc. It just would not have been an important detail for their specific purpose of a patent application.

We do know a few things about those designs. The Flying V has a neck body join somewhere in between the 19th - 20th fret and the Explorer joined at the 19th fret, which was presumably moved from the 16th from the Futura. Possibly the proto-type of the Moderne could've joined at the 16th, but why would the re-issues be moved to the 17th? Strats and Teles of the day had higher fret access as well, so there may have been some motivation there to join higher up the neck.

I want to stick with building the Moderne as the "production" design. As you noted, I think it would have closely followed the Explorer. I'm building one "proto-type" but I think it will stay at 17th fret body join, for now anyway. ;-)

Cheers Peter.
 
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LPTDMSV

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The Flying V has a neck body join somewhere in between the 19th - 20th fret and the Explorer joined at the 19th fret, which was presumably moved from the 16th from the Futura. Possibly the proto-type of the Moderne could've joined at the 16th, but why would the re-issues be moved to the 17th? Strats and Teles of the day had higher fret access as well, so there may have been some motivation there to join higher up the neck.
More access to higher frets was an obsession of the electric guitar industry in the 1950s, Gibson in particular kept moving the necks further out to get better access, and I think that is a big part of the reason the Futura (which seems to have got as far as pre-production) was dropped in favour of the re-designed and re-named Explorer (perhaps a bit easier to build too).

As to why the production/re-issue Moderne had the 17th fret join, I understood Bill to be saying that because the concept and prototype Modernes were long lost (or never existed!?) Tim Shaw and Gibson just had to make a "best guess" on available evidence, and perhaps didn't analyse the patent drawings quite as obsessively as Bill did :) - not to mention Bill's computer skills and equipment are going to be *way* ahead of anything Gibson had 40 years ago!
 
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LPTDMSV

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The best description I've personally read of Gibson's experimental and product development processes comes from this book, in the chapter on the Modernistic Guitars:

IMG_1539.jpg
 
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voices

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Shaw didn't have the watercolor.

It's not like Gibson had a set of blueprints lying around!
the watercolor was in Gibson's archives.

also- they would have had blueprints/plans- whatever you prefer to call it. Some of that stuff (mostly paperwork according to my sources) got tossed when Norlin bought them out. By the time they decided to do the Moderne in 82, there was not much to be found as far as references. When i worked I saw plans for models that we hadn't put into production yet.

I also currently have a contact @ Gibson who has told me of AND shown me photos of incredible stuff that Gibson still has. You might be surprised at some of the stuff that got saved/survived thanks to sharp minded employees. One thing that blew my mind was seeing a photo of the headstock template for the Moderne's tuners, and the original drawings for the Firebird from the artist himself.
 

LPTDMSV

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Actually, it was called No. 2469
Not quite such a snappy name (was "Futura" ever official from Ibanez, or is that just the internet guessing?). . . there was one for sale on Reverb a while back, in Boston. The photos are still on the site.

1976 Ibanez "Moderne/Futura"

It has a 16th fret join . . .

One other interesting feature, it has a chamfer on the lower back, presumably to help stop the guitar sliding around on a seated player's knee. A similar feature is visible on the 1957 Gibson Gazette photograph of a probable prototype Flying V, the one with the extended heel (or 16th fret join) and the dark body.
 

voices

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Not quite such a snappy name (was "Futura" ever official from Ibanez, or is that just the internet guessing?). . . there was one for sale on Reverb a while back, in Boston. The photos are still on the site.

1976 Ibanez "Moderne/Futura"

It has a 16th fret join . . .

One other interesting feature, it has a chamfer on the lower back, presumably to help stop the guitar sliding around on a seated player's knee. A similar feature is visible on the 1957 Gibson Gazette photograph of a probable prototype Flying V, the one with the extended heel (or 16th fret join) and the dark body.
Interesting observation. I'm not sure if a lot of people know but the Moderne that i believe to be real (i.e from 1957-ish)has that back bevel as well.

Also...don't know if you've heard about it or not but "supposedly" that catalog V has been found and will be in a new book soon. I've been on that Author's case to finish his book ever since he told me he saw it and sent me some photos. I have my doubts about its authenticity but haven't made up my mind yet.
 


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