Welcome to the first installment of Every Instrument has a Story. Over the coming months we’ll find interesting and unique stories about instruments, from customers, well-known artists, and even us. We thought it would be fitting to start with the Gibson Explorer owned by one of Strymon’s founders, Gregg Stock.
Ok, so we need to set the stage for this guitar. In the late ‘50s when the Gibson Explorer was first released it was not a hot seller and was eventually discontinued. After many years, Gibson decided to try again and re-issued the Explorer in 1976. In the late 70s, Gregg went to a small Seattle-area music store and saw this sweet, angular-looking guitar on the wall. And so began the journey of Gregg’s 1976 Explorer.
Turns out that the guitar that Gregg saw on the wall was actually formerly owned by Howard Lease of the band Heart. While Gregg was putting the Explorer on layaway, he actually got to meet and talk to Howard. They chatted about playing techniques and stories from the road. Finally after many months and Gregg’s last layaway payment, the Gibson Explorer was now his.
The Modding Era
Now, you may look at a photo of Gregg’s guitar today and wonder how he could have completely modified, reworked, and cut apart a cherished ’76 Explorer? You have to keep in mind— back in this era, modding and hot rodding your guitar was the thing to do!
During the Van Halen era, the inspiration came to have the pickup rewound by Seymour Duncan. But that wasn’t all, then the Gibson made it’s way to Mike Lull who did a refret and shaved the neck to be more like a Flying V. Now the guitar was almost there, but it needed to make one more trip over to Floyd Rose. With the Explorer in tow Gregg went north to Seattle to a tiny house to have Mr. Rose put in one of his first Floyd Rose tremolos. The tremolo didn’t stay forever and is no longer there. While Gregg was at Floyd’s place he spotted a guitar that was going to be shipped to Eddie Van Halen. Luckily Gregg was able to try out Eddie’s guitar before it was shipped off. So not only does Gregg’s Explorer have a story, but now Gregg had his own story that he actually played one of Eddie Van Halen’s guitars.
In present day, Gregg’s Gibson Explorer has been retired and is hanging on the wall of the Strymon shop as a reminder of the fun adventures they went on together.
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Gregg's 1976 Gibson Explorer has a story to tell. It was pre-owned by Howard Lease (from Heart) and Gregg even got to talk to him while putting it on layaway 😉 During the Van Halen era he had the pickup rewound by Seymour Duncan. He took it to Mike Lull who did a refret and shaved down the neck to be more like a Flying V. Then he went north to Seattle to a dumpy house and Floyd Rose put in one of the first tremolos, but it's since been updated. While Gregg was at Rose's place, he spotted a guitar that was going to be shipped to Eddie Van Halen. Gregg can officially say he has played Eddie Van Halen's guitar. What an adventure.
Does your instrument have a story to tell? Let us know. Send an email to [email protected]. We can’t guarantee that your story will be published, but we’d really like to hear them. Thanks 🙂