While all three of the new Korina models were displayed at various trade shows in 1957, the introduction of the second model, the Explorer went to dealers via ads in May of 1958. News letters went to dealers and showed the new designs dubbed “Modernistic”. The Explorer made its debut in print in the Apri-May issue of the Gibson Gazette.
It is not known why all three of the Korina models weren’t introduced at the same time considering that the patents were all granted at the same time.
One of the issues that could have held up the start of production was the design itself. The patent depicts the guitar with a split “V” headstock. There are no indications on the patent as to where the location of the pickguard would have been, nor control layout. Only a few guitars were produced with these appointments most notably the prototype which was on display at the 1957 NAMM show.
In Tony Bacon’s book titled “Flying V Explorer Firebird” he implies it was due to design tweaks: “The delay to the launch of the Explorer was probably caused by the modifications that Gibson made to the earlier prototype, known today as the Futura”. Tony suggests that production for the Explorer began “around early July 1958”. The Gazette estimated the Explorer would be ready for shipment in a few months. The guitar was also included in the July 1958 price list as well.
No production records have survived to present day and researchers have used what is called the “day logs” which were an annual account of instruments produced to determine numbers produced. It is in these logs we find the entry Korina (Mod Gtr.) with 19 produced in 1958 followed by 3 more in 1959. The low production numbers indicate that if an initial batch of forty guitars were made.
Marv Lamb, who worked at Gibson recalls seeing a rack of unfinished Explorers that sat for years collecting dust. Those were later built out and shipped in the early 1960’s some of which had stamped in serial numbers.