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Shark Fin
The Shark Fin is every bit as eye-catching as the original Explorer, which Gibson debuted in 1958, but this knock-out has a sleek look and feel that’s all its own. Until you take a closer look, you may not even realize that the Shark Fin is a descendant of the Explorer model. With its rounded “fin,” a midsection that looks like it’s had a bite taken from it and an inverted headstock, this guitar is an original that speaks volumes about the tastes of its owner. The Shark Fin hasn’t completely overlooked its predecessor’s blueprints, retaining the must-have components that have made the Explorer a best-seller for more than 50 years: a mahogany body, hybrid neck profile, humbucking 496R and 500T pickups, and classic tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece.
The Shark Fin is comprised of several pieces of the finest mahogany, secured together by Franklin Titebond 50 glue, which provides an everlasting bond. The body of this guitar has been designed with maximum tonal resonance in mind.
The mahogany that anchors this guitar is Grade C.
No binding is needed on the Shark Fin because this guitar's lines speak for themselves. The swooping relief cuts that form the guitar's asymmetrical shape may appear to be placed at random but they've been carefully engineered for maximum balance in your hands.
  Average Weight
The average weight of a Shark Fin body is 4.25 lbs, which is about normal for a Gibson guitar.
  Tonal Characteristics
The Shark Fin's mahogany body cranks out round, open, warm tone. You'll get tone that is somewhat soft, but extremely well-balanced, with good grind and bite. It has the potential for good depth, with full (though not super-tight) lows, velvety highs and a slightly compressed response.
The Shark Fin comes in a silver metallic finish that imparts just the right amount of gloss without being shiny.
  Surface Texture
The high gloss 90-sheen lacquer finish gives the Shark Fin a sleek surface that's smooth to the touch.
The Shark Fin is finished by hand in a process that demands several coats and many hours. Unlike many guitar manufacturers, who settle for a polyurethane finish, Gibson opts for a nitrocellulose finish that will encourage the natural vibration of the instrument for a purer tone. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous and actually gets thinner over time. That way your guitar's wood can breathe and age beautifully.
Neck and Headstock
The neck of the Shark Fin is constructed from a solid piece of mahogany, the hands-down best choice for guitarists who demand a strong but lightweight neck. Before becoming “putty” in the hands of Gibson's skilled craftsmen, the mahogany is milled and cut to a highly desirable “quarter sawn” wood grain orientation and then kiln dried until it has reached optimum moisture levels.
Truss Rod
Gibson's traditional truss rod, found in most all of our guitars, is highly responsive to the individual adjustments you'll want to make to personalize and optimize string action and sustain.
The neck on the Shark Fin has the best of both worlds — slimmer than the '60s profile with a rounded '50s shape. This is the neck of choice for many guitarists because it is neither too fat nor too thin and handles comfortably in hands of all sizes.
  Joint Angle
Headstock Angle
The Shark Fin headstock is carefully angled at a tried-and-true 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.
The Gibson logo — one of the most globally recognized logos of all time — is silkscreened in black onto the Shark Fin's silver metallic-finished headstock.
  Tonal Characteristics
The Shark Fin is outfitted with a headstock typically used on left-handed Explorers, as to maximize access to the silver tuners.
  Average Weight
The average weight of the neck on a Shark Fin is 1.18 lbs.
Neck Fit
Gibson uses what is known as the Mortise & Tenon joint to bind neck to body so that the two pieces form one solid unit. This time-tested joint style has been used in all the great woodworking arts — from shipbuilding to cabinetry — and has been proven to yield a stronger neck and body than if the instrument was made from a single piece of wood.
The adhesive used to join neck and body on the Shark Fin is Franklin Titebond 50, one of the strongest glues on the market today.
When fitting the neck and body together, we take advantage of our precise measuring equipment so that all angles, pitches and alignments maintain a tolerance within .005 of an inch. Not only does this help to keep your guitar in tune but it also maintains proper string alignment relative to the fingerboard.
  Joint Angle Tolerance
0.0° (+/- 15 seconds)
Each Shark Fin comes with a classic ebony fingerboard. This dense and durable wood makes for an extremely balanced and stable fingerboard. Plus, with a semi-polished sheen and a smooth surface, it looks and feels good to the touch.
The 12-inch radius of the Shark Fin fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses.
The Shark Fin sports 22 frets.
The Shark Fin's figured, swirl acrylic dot inlays give these classic inlays the mother-of-pearl look you lust for.
  Average Weight
The average weight of an ebony fingerboard is approximately .41 lbs.
  Tonal Characteristics
Ebony is always rich in tonal response, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite.
The nut on the Shark Fin is made from Corian, which is mainly composed of acrylic polymer. It's a very durable material, delivers enhanced sustain, and holds the tolerances of the precision cuts made by Gibson's PLEK machine. It is installed into the top surface of the neck, butting up to the end of the fingerboard to ensure proper tone and sustain transfer.
The width of the nut on the Shark Fin is approximately 1.695".
Traditionally included on Explorer model guitars, the 496R and 500T humbucking pickups equip the Shark Fin with outstanding tone and performance. 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 while the 500T rocks to the core with its three ceramic magnet structure.
  Wire Material
The wire used in these pickups is made from polysol copper, which is insulated to resist leaking any electrical charge. It is the same wire used in pickup manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s.
  Coil Material
The coil of each pickup is made from ABS plastic, which is hard and durable and can withstand a broad range of temperatures.
  Pole Piece Material
The pole pieces inside each pickup are made from 416-grade stainless steel — a highly machinable steel that is hardened by heat treatment. It is also known for its resistance to wear and corrosion.
  Pole Piece Position From Nut
In the neck pickup, the pole pieces are positioned 19.44” from the nut, while the pole pieces in the bridge pickup are positioned 23.625” from the nut.
  Magnet Position From Nut
The magnet in the neck pickup is positioned 20.13” from the nut, while the magnet in the bridge pickup is positioned 22.94” from the nut.
  Tonal Characteristics
The 496R adds more highs with increased definition and no muddiness at all, while the 500T 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 powerful pickup combinations.
Volume Control
The Shark Fin features one master volume control with a potentiometer made by CTS. The pot (short for potentiometer) has an ohm reading of 300k, which allows for a smooth variation from soft to loud.
Tone Control
The Shark Fin features one master tone control with a potentiometer made by CTS. The pot has an ohm reading of 500k, which is the highest value for a panel pot, and provides a very smooth transition between highs and lows.
Toggle Switch
The Shark Fin features one three-way toggle switch made of stainless steel, which acts as the instrument’s pickup selector. In the down position, only the bridge pickup is active. In the middle position, both pickups are active. In the up position, only the neck pickup is active.
Output Jack
The Shark Fin features a 1⁄4” input jack made by Switchcraft. Its super heavy duty construction holds your guitar cable securely in place.
Tuning Keys
The Shark Fin is equipped with Schaller’s chrome-plated “Knurled Bob” tuning keys. The “knurled” keys, which are impressed with a diamond pattern, provide optimum grip, a utilitarian look and a tuning ratio of 14:01.
In 1954, Gibson rocked the world when it debuted the tune-o-matic bridge, setting a standard for simplicity and functionality that has never been bettered. Included on the Shark Fin, the tune-o-matic provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields a great union between the strings and body, which results in excellent tone and sustain. The Shark Fin’s bridge is made from Zamak then plated with Platinum, and each one weighs approximately .118 lbs.
Every Tune-o-matic bridge is combined with a separate “stopbar” tailpiece, which is essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge that’s designed to further enhance the connection between the strings and the body. The Shark Fin’s tailpiece is made from Zamak then plated with Platinum, and each one weighs approximately .168 lbs.
Strap Buttons
The Shark Fin’s aluminum strap buttons are the same style and design that Gibson has used since the early 1950s.
Truss Rod Cover
As with most Gibson guitars, the truss rod cover on the Shark Fin is made from vinyl plastic, and is shaped like an antique bell.
Control Knobs
The control knobs on the Shark Fin are Gibson’s black Speed Knobs, found on many vintage and modern Gibson guitars.
  Pickup Trim Rings
The pickup trim rings on the Shark Fin are made of black ABS plastic.
The Shark Fin is fitted with genuine Gibson strings, sizes .010 - .046.
  Hardshell Case
Your Shark Fin comes protected in one of Gibson’s durable Explorer hardshell cases with the Gibson logo silk-screened across the front in white lettering.
  Certificate of Authenticity
The Shark Fin comes with a 2009 Limited Run series Certificate of Authenticity.
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