On June 6th, 2000, a team of eleven high school students and their physics teacher, Scott Rippetoe, from the Academy of Science and Technology, Woodlands, TX, unveiled a giant, playable Gibson '67 Flying V replica guitar. They submitted it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Today they received an email confirming their Flying V is officially "the largest playable guitar in the world." The monster V measures 43 feet, 7 1/2 inches long and 16 feet, 5 1/2 inches wide, beating the old Guinness record of 38 feet, 2 inches long and 16 feet wide.
The guitar weighs 2244 lbs. and uses 8-inch thick, 25-foot long strings. You'd need a large truck to haul a full set. In fact, Rippetoe and the students had to make two trips in a cargo truck to haul the four wooden pieces and equipment necessary to assemble the instrument. The string length presented the biggest challenge since it cannot be drawn tight enough to vibrate to be heard. They solved the problem using state-of-the-art signal-processing hardware and software to pick up the frequency and amplify the string vibration until it was audible.
Gibson sent Rippetoe and his students a '67 Flying V and a diagram with dimensions. "We had to go from a 43-inch guitar to a 43-foot guitar," project leader and then-senior Tom Vanderslice said.
To make it to the record books, Guinness requires a video to be sent and independent witnesses "of some standing in the community." The students with a judge, state representative, and former mayor as witnesses, assembled the V and played it at a local outdoor pavilion. Now their effort has been rewarded as an official Guinness World Record.
During a brief six-year period from 1958 to 1963, Gibson shed its image as a conservative, traditional company with a barrage of bold new guitar designs. These angular, modernistic solidbody models were far ahead of their time - too far ahead in some cases, for many of them went unappreciated until they were rediscovered and embraced by later generations of guitarists.