white Electra Kill 'Em All Flying V (1981-Present)
Bolt on mahogany neck
Gibson Truss Rod Cover
Seymour Duncan Invader (at
Custom Seymour Duncan (at some
EMG 81/60 (after recent
Stop Tailpiece, Tune-o-Matic
2 volume, 1 tone, 3 way toggle
KILL 'EM ALL Ė RIDE THE LIGHTNING
main guitar (only guitar) for recording and touring behind
Kill 'Em All was a white Flying V COPY by Electra. James used
this in the studio and live until the neck snapped and it
was retired. That is when James moved to the Explorer
James has stated
several times that although it was a copy, they treated it
as a real Gibson. James has mentioned in an interview that
this is an Elektra Flying V copy.
ďI got my
white V in 1980, Ē James Hetfield recalls. ďIt was the
second guitar I ever owned, and I probably bought it for
$200. I knew it was a copy, but we treated it as a real
Gibson. I wanted a white one because Michael Schenker of
U.F.O. had one, so I needed one, too. The neck snapped
on it twice on tour. Itís been glued quite a few times.
Itís got Seymour Duncan pickups in it, with a little
more output for the crunch than the originals had. The
only other thing thatís customized is the artwork
[laughs]. That was the first guitar I started scratching
stuff into.Ē Ė Jon Wiederhorn via guitar world
Red, the guitar sported a white finish all throughout Jamesí
usage in Metallica. While on tour, a break caused James to
switch to his backup guitar, a white 1984 Gibson Explorer.
This change would see the white flying v copy take a back
seat to Jamesí newfound love. The back of the body has a
hand with raised middle finger etched (by James, as stated
above) into it.
At some point,
James installed a Seymour Duncan Invader pickup into the
Several years ago before
recording Death Magnetic, James had this guitar brought back
from the dead. It underwent a full tune-up by Gary
Brawer and brought up to current Metallica specs, including
the addition of EMG 81 and 60 pickups. It was used quite
heavily during the recording of Death Magnetic.
James relied very heavily on the Kill 'Em All Flying V for
his work on Death Magnetic. This was after the refurb by
Gary Brawer, so brought up to current (at the time)
Metallica specs including EMG 81/60 pickups.
Are your guitars set up
a certain way to make it easier for you?
I never really pay much
attention to that aspect of it. Most of my guitars have
been instruments that look cool. Iím not picky. I never
think, Oh, this neck isnít made of ebony, or, These
strings donít feel correct. It doesnít matter too much.
Now, though, Iím paying a little more attention to what
strings Iím using because they help me stay in tune. But
I just like playing fast riffs. Itís as simple as that.
In fact, it comes so easy to me that maybe there was a
time, like while we were writing the ďBlack AlbumĒ or Load,
that I needed a different kind of challenge. But now it
just feels good to go to that place.
A lot of it has to do with
playing my old guitars again. Iím actually using the
white V and the old Explorers that I played on the first
few albums. Iím also plugging into the Mesa/Boogie Mark
II C+ that we used on all the early albums.
But what got you back
into using your white V?
That amp with that guitar is
magic. No other explanation. Itís not the beefiest or
fattest sound, but the mids just come alive.
And the white Vóitís
not a Gibson V, right?
No, itís a Japanese knockoff.
Itís actually the third guitar I ever owned. My first
guitar was a swap-meet thing that I paid five bucks for
and painted about 12 different times. I put Eddie Van
Halen stripes on and all that stuff, like every kid did.
And the second guitar I had was, like, a í69 SG that
some kid sold me in high school for $200. I traded it
for a PA because I wanted to be the singer, because
everyone was looking for a singer back then. And then
the next guitar I bought was this V.
Somebody sold it to me as a
Gibson V, and as a dumb kid I had no idea. Eventually it
dawned on me: Oh, it has a bolt-on neck. It canít be.
Hmmm, why does it say ďMade in JapanĒ on it? [laughs]
But I didnít care. I didnít have a care in the world.
Itís a white V! Itís Michael Schenker, itís Scorpions.
Thatís was metal: black pants, white V, go! I couldnít
care less that it was not a real Gibson.
It created your
signature sound. Iím always fascinated with stories of
people finding these basic tools and making them work to
create something amazing. I think most great music comes
from that. Itís not about having every tool. Itís about
working with what you have.
Itís the struggle. From
struggles come great gifts. Even though you donít know
theyíre gifts at the time. Later on they become that.
ESP makes me amazing thingsóanything I want, but I still
use that guitar. Itís a shitty Elektra copy of a Gibson
V from the late Seventies, maybe, early Eighties. And
yet, here I am, holding it on the cover of Guitar
On the subject of
looking to your past, you went back to some of your
earliest gear to make this record.
was inspired by this photographer who wanted to get an
iconic picture of me with a somewhat iconic guitar. When
I pulled out my early guitarsómy old Kill íem All white
Flying V copy and some of the ExplorersóI rediscovered
how well they played. That Vósome guy ripped me off as a
kid. He put a Gibson trussrod cover on it, and he sold
it to me as a Gibsonóeven though it has a bolt-on neck
[laughs]. I didnít pay much for it, and I didnít care if
it wasnít a Gibson. It was white, it was a V, and I was
Michael Schenker. Anyway, I started playing that guitar
again after the photo shoot, and it felt so goodóso
fast. I plugged it in, and, manóit has this midrange
quality thatís undeniable. We ended up using it on the
record. As for amps, Iíve always gone back to the
Boogies, whether itís the Triaxis in my rack or my old
C++. We might add an amp here or there, and, for this
record, we ended up using an Ampeg that helped with the
mids, a Krank, and a Diezel. The main sound is the
Boogie, though. When I plugged the V in, I said, ďOh my
god, itís Ride the Lightning!Ē It felt very comfortable
and very familiar. Rick was really into dry,
cleansounding rhythms, and those tones can make it
tougher for me to get the fat chugs and the chunky
downpicking. If you play with a saturated sound, you
allow that saturation to take you different places. You
play a little softer, and you concentrate more on
cleaning up the note, rather than hitting it hard to
distort it. So, when I picked up the V and plugged into
the Boogie, it allowed me to get back to the older style
Even though you played
that V early on, youíre much more known as an Explorer
backup was a Gibson Explorer, but I didnít play it much
until the neck broke on my V. Thatís what got me into
the Explorer. Itís similar to what Tony Iommi went
through. He played a Strat, and, when that broke, his
backup was an SG.
The intro tone to
ďBroken, Beat & ScarredĒ definitely has that fatness.
How did you get that tone?
two guitarsómy Iron Cross Les Paul, which has a lot of
girth to it, and the old Kill íEm All V, which adds some mids and highs. The combination is a great sound. A lot
of it has to do with the aggression and the muting as
Iím playing it. Iím really hitting it. You can really
hear the scrape of the pick on the strings. That was one
of those cleaner tones, and, when I donít have the
crunch of the amp, I tend to use the strings a lot more
to get some of that [sings] sssshun-jun-jun-jun. Thereís
the noise before the note, and actually after it, which
is really important.
This is notJames
Hetfield's guitar,it's anAuthentic 70'sElectra2236customizedby
BE AWARE OF ALIEXPRESS WEBSITE!
THEY HAVE STOLEN MY PHOTOS AND MISLEADING PEOPLE. MY
GUITAR IS 100% ORIGINAL, NOT A CHEAP CHINESE COPY!