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Cesar Gueikian says Gibson might reissue the Moderne as Metallica’s Kirk Hammett shreds onstage with prototype

Gibson’s brand president Cesar Gueikian has teased a contemporary update on the Moderne after Kirk Hammett was spotted using a prototype onstage with Metallica. 

The Moderne is one of the forgotten ‘50s electric guitar of Gibson’s golden era. Like the Flying V and Explorer, it too had a futuristic design from Ted McCarty that was ahead of its time. Eventually, the V and Explorer would find an audience, particularly among legions of rock players looking for a more aggressive look. The Moderne, sadly, bombed. 

It did not get put into production until 1982, and remains one of the cult Gibson designs that might just see a reissue under the new broom of Gueikian’s stewardship. Of late, Gibson has been looking through the archive for lost gold. The Theodore was one such design that was reissued via the Archive Collection.

As Metallica returned to the stage for their encore at BottleRock Napa Valley Festival 2022, on Friday 27 May, Kirk Hammett was sporting a new-look Moderne in black with which he proceeded to blaze through Battery. 

Gueikian revealed on Instagram (opens in new tab) that the guitar was a prototype that had been developed with Hammett, with a view to modernise the Moderne. Maybe as a future Kirk Hammett signature guitar? Now we are definitely getting ahead of ourselves.

For his part, Gueikian says they do not know if it will definitely be released. But it would be a shame to have gone to all that trouble then back out now on the 40th anniversary of the original Moderne’s official release. 

Having reissued it at at NAMM 2012 for its 30th anniversary release, the Moderne resplendent in a natural finish, a pair of ’57 Classic humbuckers and a granadillo fingerboard, why not do something big a decade on? Or maybe that will come in 2013, 10 years after the Zakk Wylde Moderne of Doom – a guitar that very much modernised the Moderne with a Floyd Rose and EMG active humbuckers. 

Gibson Moderne of Doom Zack Wylde

(Image credit: Gibson)

With the doors opening at NAMM 2022 this Friday, and a little chum already in the water by way of Gueikian’s social media feed, maybe Gibson are about to announce something. Courtesy of some fan-shot footage from BottleRock, you can watch the prototype Moderne in action above. 

Gibson have, however, announced something official today, and it is the suitably awesome Explorerbird signature model for Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale. See Gibson for more details.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.