The Schenker brothers and the Flying V


In a recent interview with Guitar Center, Rudolf Schenker talked about the guitarist who inspired him to play with a Flying V and what happened next.

“Because of Johnny Winter. Johnny Winter on the poster playing a Flying V ’58. Actually, this Flying V was not very popular those days when Johnny Winter started playing it, because it was more for a guitar store to put as an eye catcher. No guitar player wanted to be this so sharp.

But Johnny Winter, he had this fantastic poster and I told my brother, I said, ‘Hey, Michael, this guitar, what do you think, can I play this?’ He said, ‘Why not?’

I said ‘It might be too much for me. I’m a rhythm guitar player, what can I show with this guitar?’ Anyway, the interesting thing was that my brother got us a Les Paul from Willy Becker from No.1 Guitar Center, and he was going to Hamburg to pick it up. He called me and said ‘The Flying V is here, the one with the metal plates.’ I said ‘Oh, that’s unbelievable!’ Michael said ‘Come over here!’

I said, ‘Okay, I’m coming.’ Then I asked for a price and also what can we do about it, and Willy Becker said, ‘Bring the guitar you’re playing now and we will get this deal done for you.’

So, we finalized the deal, he said ‘Here, every month 100 Deutsche Marks.’ I gave my old guitar and I had a Flying V instead. I was playing this Flying V for a long time until my brother… We had a big festival, we were supporting it with our PA, we already had a big PA, 10 speakers on the left side and 10 on the right, a mixing board and everything. My brother came to me and said, ‘Rudolf, I can’t play this festival.’ I said, ‘Why? Where is your guitar?’ And Michael said, ‘My girlfriend forgot to give it to me before they left for a vacation.

So, I tried calling around and the only thing I could get in the end was a Melody Maker. We rehearsed a bit and he said, ‘I can’t play with it, the feedback is too big, I can’t.’ I said ‘Okay, try my guitar.’

I played the Melody Maker at this festival. We had good success and stuff but when we came back from the stage my brother said, ‘I can’t give you the guitar back because it’s so great that I have to play it.’ Because I love my brother I said, ‘Okay, Michael, here. Then we’ll do a swap, you’ll give me the Les Paul.’ But the Les Paul was too heavy for me. And I tried so many guitars – Explorers, Firebird… But when my brother left for UFO, the first thing I did, I bought the Flying V back. Because, I’ll tell you one thing, from all this checking out of different guitars and playing them on stage, I never felt very confident. But, with the Flying V, it was THE guitar.

The interesting thing is styling the guitar. People came to me in the early days and said, ‘You know, I bought this guitar, this Flying V, but it doesn’t sound like you.’ I said, ‘Where’s the guitar?’ ‘Here.’ I play it and he’s like, ‘Hey, what’s that? You changed something?’ I said ‘No, because the way you are hitting the guitar, the way you are playing it is what actually makes the sound. That’s the thing people don’t understand, but that’s the truth”.