NAMM 2023: Hot on the heels of a Murphy Lab replica of Kirk Hammett’s 1959 ‘Greeny’ Les Paul Standard, Gibson and the Metallica lead guitarist have collaborated on another super high-end replica of one of the most famous electric guitars in his collection, his 1979 Flying V.
This was his first Gibson, and the guitar has been in heavy rotation ever since Hammett purchased it in ’79 – it is widely reported the model’s year as a mid-‘70s V – and used it in the early days of Exodus before jumping ship to Metallica.
Gibson has produced limited runs of this signature guitar before, with a 2012 model coming fresh out of the Custom Shop with a pair of active EMG humbucking pickups, reflecting a mode Hammett made later in the ‘80s, but this new model drills back to the earlier incarnations of the famous black-and-white Flying V, with Gibson this time offering it with a pair of uncovered T-Type humbuckers with black bobbins.
Finished in Aged Ebony, it really is meticulously aged, with checking up and down the neck, chips where applicable on body and headstock, and looks very much like the sort of guitar that has withstood some serious roughhousing during the metal-up-your-ass years of Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning.
The headstock wears its scars well. There are strips of tape on the back and sides of the guitar. In collector speak, this is player’s grade. In heavy metal speak, this is a holy grail metal guitar.
Signature details include its Custom Replica Bridge, M6 Schaller tuners plus the routing holes that have been left unfilled after swapping out the stock tuners, and a neck profile that has been matched to the original instrument.
Hammett’s new old Flying V has a Corian nut, a one-piece mahogany body, a set mahogany neck and an Indian rosewood fingerboard with pearloid dot inlays and 22 medium frets. It has a four-ply white pickguard, Black Speed control knobs for individual pickup volume and tone, with the Switchcraft 1/4” output jack mounted on the pickguard.
Hammett still plays his original Flying V to this day but maybe now he can afford to give it a night off. In saying that, at $14,999, this might give him pause, and after all, the original has survived all this time; there’s no reason why it would give up on him now.
Gibson are only making 200 of these, with each made and aged in Gibson’s Custom Shop in Nashville, Tennessee. You get a COA in an SKB Flying V guitar case that looks just like Hammett’s, complete with Post-It note stickers. There is also a photo signed by Hammett himself in the COA.