Gibson guitars from the ’50s and ’60s are some of the most-sought after instruments on the planet, and re-creating the look, tone, and feel from that golden era is no small task. Banker Custom Guitars is an authorized Gibson “partner,” which allows builder Matt Hughes to create something new, yet familiar.
The Banker Excalibur Derringer is Hughes’ take on Rick Derringer’s ’58 Explorer, with its unique split headstock. All wood, parts, hardware and electronics are top-notch, including the one-piece Korina body, which has a stunning aged-clear finish. Other touches include Faber aged-nickel ABR bridge and tailpiece, and Throbak ESG-102B PAFs. The recipe wouldn’t be complete without a Brazilian-rosewood fretboard and Kluson tuners.
Upon first strum of the Derringer, you feel a deep, resonant vibration through its neck and body, with warmth and exceptional clarity across the strings. Plugged into a modern mid-power 6V6 head and 2×12 cab with a Tone Tubby 40/40 and a Celestion Gold, the Throbaks complemented the Excalibur’s natural sustain and depth. Clean tones are bouncy and musical, while overdriven tones are rich with a beautiful singing voice, as you’d expect from a good PAF. The neck is fat (like a ’58 should be) but very comfortable with its rolled edges and excellent fret work. This guitar feels broken in right out of the case, and plays flawlessly.
The Excalibur Derringer is one of those guitars that you never want to put down. You’ll need deep pockets, but you won’t have any regrets.
This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.