Gibson confirms partnership with Metallica's Kirk Hammett in new interview and teases a signature Flying V

Update: Gibson has now confirmed a partnership with Metallica's Kirk Hammettin the new interview above. The partnership will span across Gibson Brands including Gibson and Epiphone guitars with more details TBC.

Amid a flurry of activity that has seen the company launch its own record label, the vintage-inspired custom shop models of the year so far, and tease a US production line Adam Jones Les Paul, is Gibson about to announce a signature Flying V for Metallica's Kirk Hammett?

The omens suggest as much. Both brand president Cesar Gueikian and director of brand experience Mark Agnesi posting a teaser trailer on Instagram that offered the tantalising possibility that an announcement was coming soon, and that it would be a signature model based on one of Hammett's longest serving and most iconic electric guitars.

Set to the strains of Metallica's The Thing That Should Not Be – a veritable doom-crusher and stand-out track on the Bay Area metal superpower's magnum opus, Master Of Puppets – the teaser has some Tod Browning-era Dracula visuals and climaxes with early 80s archive footage of Hammett thrashing his trusty 1979 Gibson Flying in front of amplifier stack.

Hammett first started using the Flying V out of frustration with his Strat. He modified the body and added a humbucker but still wasn't satisfied with the sound. Inspired by Michael Schenker of the Scorpions, he traded in the Strat for the Flying V. Over the years he alternated between the Gibson V and a Jackson Rhoads.

This signature V news follows a pattern of Flying V chat between the Metallica lead guitarist and the Gibson higher uppers that has played out over social media, with Hammett posting a picture of his prototype 1957 Korina V – a guitar that the Gibson Custom Shop and Tom Murphy of the Murphy lab have spent three years developing, using 3D scanning equipment and sourcing the requisite korina and Brazilian rosewood to clone the original 1958 Flying V and Explorer for 2021.

As for a Hammett Flying V and what it might look like in 2021, well, we have something to go by for the spec. Gibson released a Custom Shop version of his black 1979 model in 2012. Strictly limited edition, with 50 signed and numbered models and a further 100 aged models released into the wild. It was a forensic replica of the Metallica man's original, housing an EMG 81 active humbucker in the bridge position and an EMG H in the neck position.

Like the original, the 2012 model bore a rounded 70s profile V headstock, with the Gibson logo rendered on the truss rod cover. It had a one-piece mahogany body and a three-piece mahogany neck with maple spline. 

Other appointments included 22 jumbo Jescar frets on a rosewood fingerboard, upgraded hardware, with locking Schaller M6 tuners and a Stars Guitars modified tune-o-matic bridge, black 'speed knobs' arranged in a two volume, one tone configuration with the three-way pickup selector mounted in the nest of controls. 

Just as on Hammett's original, the jack is reinforced with a pickup selector ring from a Les Paul. It's a very cool guitar, and you can watch Greg Koch demo the 2012 replica below. 

Alternatively, check out Metallica in 1983, full of sap and venom, playing Whiplash live from the Metro in Chicago, Illinois. Cliff Burton on bass, both James Hetfield and Hammett using Vs – the latter using his black 1979 model, Hetfield using a Japanese Gibson knock-off. It doesn't get much better than that.

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.