The pointed headstock on the Robot Flying V is as typical as it is unique. Like every Gibson headstock, it is carved out of the same piece of mahogany as the neck. It is not a “glued-on” headstock, and the process takes craftsmanship, time, and effort. But the rewards are worth the effort. The headstock is carefully angled at 17 degrees, which increases pressure on the strings and helps them stay in the nut slots. An increase in string pressure also means there is no loss of string vibration between the nut and the tuners, which equals better sustain. A white truss rod cover adds a nice finishing touch to the headstock.
The Robot Flying V Neck Profile
No guitar neck profiles are more distinguishable than the neck profiles employed on the Gibson models of today. The more traditional ’50s neck profile is the thicker, more rounded contour, emulating the neck shapes of Gibson’s iconic models of the late 1950s. The ’60s neck profile is considered the more modern, slim-tapered contour most commonly associated with the Gibson models of the early 1960s. The neck on Gibson’s Robot Flying V has the best of both worlds—it is a hybrid between the ’50s rounded contour and the ’60s slim-taper profile. As with all Gibson necks, it is machined in Gibson’s rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. Once the fingerboard gets glued on, the rest—including the final sanding—is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
Gibson’s 496R and 500T Pickups - Uncovered
No event is more responsible for dramatically influencing the evolution of popular music than Gibson’s introduction of the double-coil “humbucking” pickup in 1955. From the warm jazz tones of Charlie Christian, to the world-shaking rockabilly of Scotty Moore, and the cruching rock of Jimmy Page, countless players around the world explored the limitless possibilities of the tonal spectrum through Gibson pickups and guitars. As the musical landscape changed, so did the development of the humbucker pickup. Introduced in the early 1970s, Gibson’s 496R and 500T pickups filled the need for more powerful humbuckers and energized the emergence of hard rock and heavy metal. The 496R produces incredible sustain and cutting power with its ceramic magnet, adding more highs with increased definition and no muddiness at all. The 500T is one of Gibson’s most powerful pickups, containing a three ceramic magnet structure, which enables a no-holds-barred rock and roll crunch that never loses its rich combination of enhanced lows and crystal clear highs. This is one of Gibson’s most potent pickup combinations. As with all Gibson pickups, every part is precisely manufactured at Gibson USA in Nashville, Tennessee, insuring tight, seamless fittings, and superior workmanship.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
On the back of the Robot Flying V headstock, between the Robot Tuners™, is where you’ll find the Neck CPU. This genius little device is responsible for receiving and processing the data signal from each individual string and feeding it to the Robot Tuners™, which then tunes the guitar. Small in stature, yes, but central to the operation of this innovative self-tuning robotic system.
Custom Red Metallic Nitrocellulose Finish
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson guitar—including the custom Red Metallic finish on the Robot Flying V—is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. A properly applied nitro finish requires extensive man hours, several evenly applied coats, and an exorbitant amount of drying time. But this fact has never swayed Gibson into changing this time-tested method, employed ever since the first guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish dries to a much thinner coat than a polyurethane finish, which means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. A nitro finish is also a softer finish, which makes it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous in nature, and actually gets thinner over time. It does not “seal” wood in an airtight shell—as a poly finish does—and allows the wood to breathe and age properly.
At the heart of Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Flying V are its ground-breaking controls. At first glance, the two control knobs seem to be indistinguishable from those on any other Flying V. But look again. The Multi-Control Knob (MCK)—the one with the illuminated top—serves as the master control for all aspects of the Robot Flying V’s amazing, self-tuning system. The MCK is what is commonly referred to as a “push-pull” knob. When in the normal position (down), it behaves as a regular volume or tone pot. When the MCK is pulled out, the Robot Flying V’s radically new self-tuning system is activated and ready for use. It immediately places the Robot Flying V in standard tuning mode (A440). A quick turn of the MCK presents six factory presets, all of which can be customized. At any time, you can also restore the tunings to the factory presets and start all over again. The LED display on top of the MCK also lets you know when a string is out of tune, or when all strings are in tune, and even when the tuners are turning to get them in tune. It even guides the setting of accurate intonation. At the end of the tuning process, the blue lights on top of the MCK flash. Push the MCK back in and it’s ready to go. The only thing you have to do is play.
Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Flying V is unique in many ways, but the “robot-like” Robot Tuners™ that grace the headstock are extraordinary. Pull out the Robot Flying V’s Multi-Control Knob (MCK) and watch the Robot Tuners™ spring into action. It takes only a few seconds for the Robot Tuners™ to tune the Robot Flying V to any desired tuning. Each tuning peg is equipped with a tiny, but powerful, servo motor that kicks into action once the system is activated. The Robot Tuners™ rely on the strings themselves to send the signals, eliminating any potential for interference. Made of lightweight metal with a satin nickel finish, the Robot Tuners™ weigh only 46.5 grams each. A standard Gotoh tuner weighs in at 49 grams. That means a set of Robot Tuners™ weigh a full 15 grams less than a set of Gotoh tuners, which is another indicator of the Robot Flying V’s true innovation.
At the core of the Robot Flying V’s pioneering technology is a lithium rechargeable battery system, which takes about 90 minutes to generate a full charge that keeps the innovative self-tuning robotic system going for approximately 200 tunings. Included with the Robot Flying V is a power adaptor that plugs into any standard power outlet. Take any quarter-inch guitar cable and plug one end into the adaptor, and the other end into the Robot Flying V. In approximately 90 minutes, the Robot Flying V is ready to go. Use the shortest guitar cable you can find, because the shorter the cable, the less time it takes. You can always check the status of the system’s charge by turning the MCK knob to the C position. The LED display will give you a value between 1-10, with one being the lowest charge, and 10 being the highest.
Tune-Control Bridge and Data Transmitting Tailpiece
The revolutionary Robot Flying V sports a new and unique, highly specialized Tune Control Bridge which acts as one of the main components of the amazing self-tuning robotic system. The new Tune-Control Bridge is a modified Tune-o-matic that measures the individual tuning of each string via special saddles. The signal from each string is then transmitted to the control CPU in the control panel, which then transfers the signal to the Neck CPU and the Robot Tuners™, which, in turn, tune the strings. At first glance, the tailpiece on Gibson’s ground-breaking Robot Flying V looks like a normal tailpiece. But look a little closer and you’ll see that it’s far from ordinary. Gibson’s new Data Transmitting Tailpiece is a hub of activity. First, each string is separated by ceramic insulators that isolate each individual string signal and avoids confusion as to which string is being processed and tuned. There are also special isolating inserts that keep the ball ends commonly found on electric guitars strings from making contact and disrupting signal flow. Underneath the tailpiece is a tiny circuit board that processes each individual signal to the ribbon cable, which is then transmitted to the on-board CPUs, which, in turn, tune the strings. Both pieces work with each other to help balance all the information being transmitted between the various points, and makes sure every string is in tune, making them the epitome of form and function in electric guitar bridge and tailpiece design.