Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 103
Hammett and Hetfield
in 1991, surrounded by
early additions to their
collections, including a
'50s Les Paul and Les
Paul Custom, a Tele,
a Gibson ES-295, a
Danelectro Longhorn bass
and 3021, a Coral Sitar,
and two Gretsches - a
double-cut Sparkle Jet
and a White Falcon.
I've been "collecting" guitars since '88 or
'89, and it started with a trip to Pete's Guitars,
in Minneapolis. Pete Alenov was a good
friend, and every time we were there, I'd
leave with the greatest stuff. I love old Strats,
old Teles, old Les Pauls, Flying Vs, Explorers,
ES-335s, 295s, Super 400s and acoustics like
J-45s and Martin D-18s and 28s.
Hammett, Hetfield 1991: William Hames/Atlasicons.com.
You've been touring with a pretty
special Les Paul...
because I know they're experiencing something they'll never forget.
What are some other highlights from
Uh, I have some really crazy Strats. One of
my favorites is a '64 in Sea Foam Green that I
thought I might've lost in the Sonoma-Napa
fires. But I was lucky enough to evacuate
Did you lose any gear in those fires?
Yeah, the Peter Green/Gary Moore guitar.
Greeny found me... a dealer in England
called and said, "Hey I got this guitar."
And I said, "Bring it over." I plugged it in,
and it sounded incredible. So we worked a
deal. I've been collecting Les Paul Standards
for a while and have five or six of 'em; I've
been playing 'em in the studio since Load
No, thankfully the fire stopped at my front
gate - literally.
Yeah, anyone who knows what that guitar
is can play it. If you're a fan of Peter Green or
Gary Moore, I'll say, "Hey, check this out!"
and let them sit with it for a half-hour. Play
their guts out. It's an amazingly cathartic
instrument, almost like f***ing Excalibur,
man. It brings out the best in anyone who
plays it. I just crack a smile; I can't help it
The Sea Foam Green Strat; I paid $3,000
for it in 1991, which was a f***in' lot of money,
man (laughs)! But I'm never gonna sell that
thing, and I've been offered six figures for it.
Word is you enjoy letting guitar players who know the story of the guitar sit
and play it.
Whoa. Anyway, you were saying....
Yeah. I love L-series Strats with rosewood
fretboards and maple necks. I also really dig
'56 Strats because of the neck - it has a V
shape, but not exaggerated. I love transitional
Strats from '66/'67 because they had some
crazy colors. I have a korina Strat.
There's only a handful of those. What
was the first piece you paid crazy collector prices for?
Have you ever used it to record?
Yeah, I used it on the riff and solo on "Fuel."
Are there other Metallica tracks on
which we hear your vintage instruments?
I used a korina V on the solo for "Fixxxer,"
on Reload. Most of the lead stuff on the new
album, Hardwired, was done with Greeny
'cause it's such an amazing lead-sound
guitar. I played Les Paul Standards all over
Load, Reload, St. Anger, Death Magnetic. I
have a blond front-loader Tele that sounds
amazing - '57 or '58 - and it's all over Death
Magnetic. I think it's on Reload, as well.
I have a prototype V - the second or third
ever made. It has a black pickguard and a
hand-routed body, which is an indication it
was a prototype because they didn't use the
routing machine because it wasn't calibrated.
Where'd you find it?
A dealer in L.A. had been sitting on it for
years. It sounds f***ing great. It's amazing.
I also have an old Explorer... I just had to
'cause I'm a "collector." (laughs)
Speaking of '58 Explorers, did you help
James get his?
Well, the guy I got my Explorer from
had three or four of them. I said to James,
"Hey, this is the guy." And of course James
knows a good opportunity when he sees it.
So he left with it. We both have "the pair" of
korinas - a korina Explorer and a V. That's
what we like to call them. He has a pair, I
have a pair. I might have two Korina Vs, I'm
not sure (laughs).