For 150 years, Epiphone has been a leading innovator in instrument design. By leveraging its iconic past and leaning into the future, Epiphone has set the stage for the next era of sound for present and future generations. Heavy metal guitars don’t get more iconic than Kirk Hammett‘s 1979 Gibson Flying V. Epiphone is proud to unveil its first official global release and partnership with Kirk Hammett, legendary guitarist of the multi-platinum-selling and Grammy Award-winning band METALLICA. In partnership with Gibson Custom Shop, Epiphone is bringing the genre-defining sound of METALLICA‘s early albums to every stage with the Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V — a painstaking recreation of Kirk‘s prized original, available in Ebony and Purple Metallic finishes worldwide on www.epiphone.com.
“I am extremely honored to be able to put out an Epiphone Flying V today,” says Hammett. “Epiphone represents great sounding guitars at accessible prices, which is fundamentally important for up-and-coming musicians. I’m beyond pleased that I can offer the ’79 Flying V in this capacity. It means so much to me to be able to put good guitars in the hands of young players.”
Jenny Marsh, director of global cultural influence at Gibson Brands, adds: “We’re bringing the collaboration with the legendary Kirk Hammett to every stage for the first time through Epiphone, allowing every guitarist to wield the power and passion of METALLICA‘s music.”
METALLICA fans worldwide are familiar with Kirk Hammett‘s 1979 Flying V. It was Kirk‘s first Gibson and established his passion for Gibson guitars. Its purchase was inspired by famous Flying V players Kirk admired and because he was looking for a fuller sound. And what a sound! Kirk still plays the original guitar to this day, and used it on all the early METALLICA albums, including “Kill ‘Em All”, “Ride The Lightning”, “Master Of Puppets”, “…And Justice Of All” and The Black Album, making it one of the most important heavy metal guitars of all time. Now Epiphone is partnering with the Gibson Custom Shop to release the Epiphone Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V, a meticulous recreation of Kirk‘s prized original. It features a mahogany body, a one-piece mahogany neck with volute, Grover Rotomatic machine heads with “spade” buttons, and a custom bridge. The electronics are also top-notch, with a pair of Gibson USA Calibrated T-Type humbucker pickups wired to CTS potentiometers and an Orange Drop capacitor, and a Switchcraft 3-way pickup selector toggle switch and a 1/4″ output jack. A Kirk Hammett logo adorns the rear of the headstock, and a black hardshell case with a red plush interior is also included.
One of the most iconic rock guitarists of our generation, Hammett has been the lead guitarist and a contributing songwriter for METALLICA since 1983. Before joining METALLICA, he formed and named the metal band EXODUS.
When Hammett‘s partnership with Gibson was first announced in 2021, Kirk said about the collaboration: Yes, it’s official. I have become an official Gibson endorser and it’s been a long time coming. I’m really, really happy about it. And when I think about it, I’ve been playing Gibson, really, since the late ’70s when I bought my very first black Flying V, in 1979. I could barely play it and it felt funny putting it on because of the V wings. But I knew that it was the guitar for me, and within three or four days, I was just inseparable from that guitar. And I still have it to this day. Gibson guitars have been with me for pretty much 95 percent of my musical life. I’ve revered so many Gibson players in my life too, and the Gibson sound has been so inspiring to me. And at times, I didn’t even know it.
“I remember when I first started playing guitar, I was just blown away by the sound of Jeff Beck‘s guitar — ‘Let Me Love You’, off [the 1968 JEFF BECK GROUP debut album] ‘Truth’. Pretty much the opening lick, I was just, like, ‘How did he get that sound?’ And I remember it was one of the very first guitar licks I learned, very simple lick, G position, blues lick, but I could never get it to sound the way that sounded with that tone, that attack, that distortion… And it wasn’t until decades later that I realized it was because he was using a certain guitar, it was a Les Paul Standard. And then it all made sense to me.”
Hammett went on to say that the time was “right” for his partnership with Gibson.
“When I really think about it, Gibson guitars have been on every single METALLICA album,” he said. “And primarily on the first three albums. It was all Gibson-powered because all I had was my Flying V, and then I had a Strat copy, and I had a Jackson. The Jackson didn’t really come to me ’til ‘Master Of Puppets’. That Gibson Flying V was a real workhorse in the studio for the first four or five albums, and then after that, I started playing vintage Gibsons from ‘Load’ on, and I started playing Standards almost all the time.”
Kirk added that he loves Flying Vs. “I think I have almost every ’70s Flying V, from ’79 to ’81,’ he revealed. “I really like that particular run of Flying Vs. There are a lot of cool colors, and I like the design, I like the weight, I like the sound. I have one of the very first Flying V’s from 1957, a prototype.”
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