While all three of the new Korina models were displayed at various trade shows in 1957, the print introduction of the second model the Explorer went to dealers in May of 1958.
Newsletters went out to dealers that showed the new designs dubbed begin quotation modernistic and quotation. The Explorer made its print debut in the Gibson Gazette April – May 1958 issue.
It is not known why all three models weren’t introduced at the same time considering the patents were granted all at the same time. In Tony Bacons book “Flying V Explorer Firebird”, he writes that 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 the production for the explorer began around early July 1958. The Gazette estimated the explorer would be ready for shipment in a few months. The explorer was listed in the July of 1959 price list as well.
One of the issues that would have held up the starting the production on the explorer could have been issues with the design. The patent depicts the guitar with a split headstock. There is no indication for the placement where the pick guard would be nor what the shaped might’ve ever been intended. Only a few guitars were built with this headstock, most notably the prototype which was displayed at the Palmer House in 1958 NAMM show. The body shape also changed to a lesser degree but was still somewhat true to the patent.
Since no production logs have survived to present day, researchers have used annual logs to account for the original batch of explorers. It was simply listed as “Korina (Mod. Gtr)”. 19 were produced in 1958 and three more the following year in 1959. The low production numbers indicate that if an initial batch of 40 guitars were produced then 28 more guitars exist or a one time existed. Marvin Lamb of heritage guitars who worked at Gibson in 1958 recalls a rack of unfinished explores that sat on a rack for a few years.