In a recent interview with Guitarist Magazine, Kirk Hammett talked about his 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar he’ll be using on METALLICA‘s new album.
It’s the six-string that used to belong to blues icon Peter Green of early Fleetwood Mac, the one he used during his days with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and on classic early FM stuff.
After Peter Green mysteriously quit the music scene in the early 1970s, the guitar found its way into the hands of another legendary player, Gary Moore, who was offered the six-string by Peter himself, for free even.
Kirk says about the guitar: “It’s really weird because I didn’t pursue it like I have pursued other guitars in the past – really aggressively going after certain guitars and working out deals.
“This is more just a situation where I was sitting in my hotel room in London one day and I texted a friend of mine and he said, ‘Oh, I have a guitar I wanna show you,’ and I said, ‘Okay, sure. Bring it over.’
“And when he says he has a guitar that he wants to show me, more than likely it’s a vintage guitar and even more likely it’s a Les Paul Standard because this guy’s known for that type of guitar.
“So he came over with this other guy and they also brought over a vintage Marshall combo.
“I plugged it into the vintage Marshall amp, turned it up and played it. After about 30 seconds, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is not your standard Les Paul’ and I went to the middle position, because, you know, that’s the revered sound and I started ripping out and I thought to myself, ‘Holy s**t, this is a total contradiction.’
“It sounded like an incredible Les Paul in the bridge position and in the neck position, but when you put it in the middle position it kind of sounded like a Strat through a 100‑watt Marshall stack!
“And then I got it. I got it. I understood completely what Greeny was all about. And you know the history side, the fact that it’s been on all these albums and all this great music, but aside from all that, the bare fact of the matter is that it’s just an amazing-sounding guitar. It just blew me away and everything just kind of made sense.”
Hammett added: “It’s just totally, completely amazing because this guitar has its own world, its own separate reality, completely separate to mine and I’ve never really owned a guitar that has its own personality. It’s completely independent of myself and I love that fact as well.”
When asked what it’s like to play it, he said: “It’s fairly light for a Les Paul. I definitely own heavier Les Pauls, but the amazing thing is that the neck is pretty thick. I can play a thin neck, I can play a thick neck, I can play a V-shaped neck… I can play just about any sort of neck you give me; it’s never been a problem for me.
“When you pick up Greeny and you start playing Oh Well or Albatross, it sounds like the recording. It’s amazing. You play Oh Well unplugged, just acoustically, and it sounds like Greeny. It’s the most amazing thing. And the resonance is pretty outrageous. It’s pretty loud acoustically, it has a lot of body to it and the tone rings through even without an amp.
“Once I got the guitar into my possession, I handed the guitar to John Marshall – he was my guitar tech forever and he actually played with Metallica for a short period of time – I said, ‘Play Oh Well,’ and he started playing it and he goes, ‘Ah wow! It sounds just like it!’ and I said, ‘Exactly! Isn’t that incredible?’ And so there you have it, man. It truly is breathtaking.”
You can read the entire interview at this location.