James Hetfield Reveals Storied History of ‘Great Friend’ Guitar Used on ’72 Seasons’ Album
Metallica are back, with their 72 Seasons album arriving this week, and while it sounds as fresh as ever, frontman James Hetfield reveals that a good portion of the record features an instrument that dates back to his earliest days with the band.
While speaking with the band's own So What! magazine, Hetfield ran down his gear for the record, noting that he's going back to the well with some of his guitars used.
"[I’m] always, always searching for better tone, always searching for a better guitar sound. And I end up with stuff I’ve used before because it just sounds the best, and that’s okay," says Hetfield. "It’s helping me speak."
"There’s the Copperhead guitar, Copper Top, whatever you want to call it, but it’s the copper one that’s a snakebyte that has been painted horrendously thick and shouldn’t sound good at all. The pickups have been painted!!!," said Hetfield. "It’s got the tone. It sounds great as a main guitar, so that one always gets put down first. I used it a bunch on Hardwired." He also named off his So What! guitar and his EEK FUK guitars also getting use on the record.
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But next up for Hetfield is a guitar that dates back to his origins with Metallica: "The guitar that probably showed up more on any of the songs besides the Copper Top was the OGV, you know? The very first guitar I played in Metallica."
The singer-guitarist says, "It’s hanging up in the control room, and I get to pick it up and play it. And with all of its nicks and damage… rings pounded holes in it, scrapes and this and that, especially on the neck, it’s just a minefield that’s been destroyed. It feels comfortable, great, it plays easy, and it sounds lively and young. So that guitar is probably never going to go away, I think. Hopefully, it’ll come with me to the grave."
When asked about the nostalgic feel of the instrument, Hetfield says, "It does remind me of the Kill ’Em All tour, for sure. It just does. That was the only guitar I had, so it’s got to remind me of that."
The Metallica leader holds a special affinity for the instrument, revealing, "We’ve been through hell, and we’ve been through heaven together. It has definitely died a few times and come back to life. The neck’s been broken on that thing, the headstock’s come off three times, and the tailpiece just broke on this album. But it’s a survivor, like me, and this guitar has been a great friend."
You can hear that guitar, as well as the others James mentioned, on Metallica's new 72 Seasons album, due out this Friday (April 14). Pre-orders are currently underway at this location. And you can look for Metallica out on the road in support of that album into 2024. Get your tickets here.