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Little known '81 Gibson Explorer '58 Korina reissue selling for 25K


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Despite most Explorer fans and guitar professionals/brokers thinking the 1st Korina Explorer reissues being the 1983 Custom Shop Editions (94-96 made), and the 1983 Heritage line (100 made), apparently that assumption was wrong. In 1981, Gibson took it's 1976 mahogany Explorer specs and made less than 100 (at least 83 based on the "inked" serial # of one currently for sale.), Korina Explorer Reissues. These '81 Korina Explorer '58 reissues had "funny small inked on serial numbers" that had not been seen before, (1 0083, is the format shown on the example currently for sale.). Inked serial numbers in this format had only previously been associated with 1983 Korina Gibson Explorer Heritages, but these 1981 Explorers had normal Gold Kluson Deluxe Tuners with Ivory "tulip" knobs, Gold covered Tim Shaw humbuckers, gold/black "speed" volume/tone knobs, Pearl inlaid Gibson logo in the headstock, gold hardware, inline tone/volume knobs,  and a 3 position selector on the "horn". Of the two examples I have seen, each has a white pick-guard, stop-bar tail piece, and gold hardware, save for the ivory tuner knobs. At least 2 known examples are "natural finish" Korina, and the other is a "Black Korina finish". (The natural finish example I have seen has black "speed" volume/tone knobs). They appear to have Rosewood fretboards, pearl "dot" fretboard inlays, and they have 22 frets. They do not appear to have the "pressed" "Made in the USA" marking, nor do they have an "inked" "Made in the USA" marking, just the "inked" serial number in the format indicated above. (No "Custom Shop Edition" logo either.)

Although this type of "inked", 5 digit serial number format, (not  the 8 digit "stamped/pressed" serial numbers), on Korina Explorers would previously have been associated with the '83 Heritage series, the '83 Heritages only had "nickel" hardware (including the "tulip" tuner knobs), and they were ONLY made in natural finish. Also, the seial numbers on the pots (pot codes) on these '81 Korina Explorers date to 1981, (the black finish example has pot codes that date to the third week of 1981 specifically.). The codes on the Humbuckers on the black finish '81 are, 151683 pat no. 2 737 842 and 150683 pat no. 2 737 842. Based on these factors, these Korina Explorers cannot be 1983 Heritages OR 1983 Custom Shop Edition Korina's. Interestingly, they look like hybrids of those two '83 Korina Explorer lines, combining the best of both lines, yet made two years before the '83 lines were made. In reality, these '81 Korina Explorers look to be a cool, reimagining of the 1958 Explorer by combining new style gold hardware with just enough '58 style to qualify as a reissue. (As opposed to the '83 Korina Heritage that went to extrodinary lenghts to recreate the original '58 vision of the Explorer.)

The story of these 1981 Korina Explorer '58 reissues goes like this; In 1981, Gibson used 1976 mahogony Explorer specs and began making '58 Korina Explorer reissues, (ironically, less than 5 or so production 1958 Korina Explorers were actually ever made). They made them until they ran out of the gold Kluson Tuners, resulting in at least 83, 1981 Korina Explorers, but definatly less than 100. Obviously some were natural finish and at least one was black. It is said that Gibson was able to continue the Korina Explorer Custom Shop Editions in 1983 after being able to aquire Gold Schaller tuners. Other than the type of gold tuners, and the ivory "tulip style" tuning knobs, the 1981 Korina Explorers are nearly identical to the '83 Custom Shop Edition Korina Explorers, possibly down to the percentage of production "colors"/finishes produced. (hence the confusion when one comes to market.) Despite the '81 Korina line being billed as a "1958 Reissue", and containing the "inked" 5 digit serial number associated with "reissues", it is more akin to the '83 CSE, and distinctly different from the '83 Korina Heritage "reissue" which was totally built to replicate the few '58 Korina Explorers made.

The Korina Black finish '81 Korina Explorer detailed above is currently for sale at Reverb for $24,995, less taxes and shipping, by  The Guitar Broker, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. (full disclosure dictates that I inform you that most of the info about these '81 Korina Explorers came from The Guitar Broker's listing for this guitar.) It is in "mostly unplayed condition with only slight play time but no wear at all. The gold parts are clean and unfaded, and it comes with it's original black hard case. (I have no affiliation with Reverb or The Guitar Broker, nor is this an advertisement for either of them, nor do I have any financial incentive associated with the sale of the afore mentioned '81 Explorer, nor can I attest to the authenticity of said claims about this guitar or the claims about the 1981 Gibson Explorer Korina 1958 reissue.)

As an owner of an all original 1983 Gibson Custom Shop Edition Korina Explorer, I had never heard of these '81 Korina Explorers, despite decades of research on Korina Explorers. Wondering if anyone else had heard of them or might own one? 

Edited by Sheepdog1969
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