Epiphone and Kirk Hammett team up for the Metallica guitarist’s signature 1979 Flying V – an affordable version of “one of the most important heavy metal guitars of all time”

Epiphone Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V
(Image credit: Epiphone)

While we were all waiting for Epiphone to bring us its version of Kirk Hammett’s Greeny Les Paul Standard, the Gibson-owned brand had other ideas, surprising us all with a pair of sweet Flying V signature guitars based on the iconic 1979 model that the Metallica lead guitarist used on the band’s seminal early albums.

That the news breaks on Halloween is perhaps less of a surprise. For Hammett, a dyed in the wool horror fan, it’s most wonderful time of the year. For anyone else looking for a pro-quality electric guitar at an approachable price point, it’s more like Christmas. 

Okay, this V is not cheap at £1,349 but this is a high-end Epiphone model, created in partnership with the Gibson Custom Shop. And when compared to the Gibson Custom Shop version of the Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V, launched in April, priced $15,000, and limited to just 200 units worldwide, it is positively a bargain. And you get a lot of guitar for your money. 

As with similar top-shelf Epiphone artist collaborations – think Joe Bonamassa’s ‘Lazarus’ Les Paul Standard, with its Gibson BurstBucker humbucker pairing – the brand has dug deep for the good stuff, and here we have got an electric guitar pickup pairing of Gibson USA Calibrated T-Type humbuckers.

These are hooked up to a control circuit that includes CTS pots and Orange Drop capacitors, which is all to say that when you turn the tone and volume dials your tone is adjusted accordingly. A Switchcraft pickup selector switch and 1/4” output jack adds to the impression that this is serious instrument.

The fundamentals should give you the impression that you are playing an end of the ‘70s Flying V. Hammett’s new model has a solid mahogany body and a one-piece mahogany neck that’s glued to the body. As per the Gibsons of that era it has a rounded C profile and a volute. 

There are other neat details, such as the custom bridge, which is paired with the commonly found LockTone stop-bar tailpiece, black ‘speed’ knobs, the gold-stamped Epiphone logo on the truss rod cover, and the white ‘70s-style triple-ply white pickguard. 

Signature touches are subtle. There is a Kirk Hammett logo on the rear of the headstock. You don’t need to be a Metallica super fan to see the instrument’s appeal. This is for anyone who’s looking for a mid-priced hard rock or metal guitar.

Other specs include a set of 18:1 ratio Grover Rotomatic tuners with ‘spade-style’ buttons, a 12” radius Indian laurel fingerboard with MOP dot inlays, 22 medium jumbo frets, a 43mm Graph Tech nut, and the guitar ships in a black hard-shell guitar case with red plush interior.

The Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V is available now, priced £1,349 / $1,299. See Epiphone for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

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.