James Hetfield – 1984 Gibson Explorer
About the Guitar
As with all my guitar sculptures, I start by transferring my scale drawing onto a wood base. I make sure to accurately mark out all the features of the guitar; pickups, volume & tone knobs, jack plugs, bridges, fret position, headstock features etc.
Next, I start by laying out the outline of the body shape. I use an appropriate material that best fits the guitar characteristics. For the Gibson Explorer I used rebar to shape the body and heavy-duty motorcycle chain for the headstock.
The body is predominately constructed out of motorcycle and car parts, but it is dominated by a large 47 tooth rear sprocket from a motorcycle. The back of the guitar has been made from Australian hardwood finished with a Japanese Black varnish.
I have used a common technique of super heating metal and then quenching with motor oil, to achieve the rainbow/purple effect on the fret boards and pickups.
The guitar sculpture also comes with its own unique guitar stand. This is specifically tailored to the needs of the guitar with respects to its look, balance and body shape.
About the Artist
James Alan Hetfield (August 3, 1963)
At age nine, James Hetfield began taking piano lessons but quickly progressed onto drums and then finally, aged 14, began playing rhythm guitar in a band called Obsession.
His main musical influence as a youngster was Aerosmith but he cites the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal artist Diamond Head as a major driving influence on how Metallica would ultimately breakthrough as pioneers of the emerging Thrash Metal scene in the early eighties.
With hits, such as “Whiplash”, “Master Of Puppets”, “Unforgiven”, and “Enter Sandman”, Metallica has risen to be one of the most successful heavy metal bands of all time, credited with selling more than 125 million records worldwide.
James Hetfield started using the Gibson Explorer after he snapped the neck of his trademark Gibson Flying V. In 1984, the Explorer became his signature guitar and later, due to a sponsorship deal, he endorsed “ESP Explorer style” guitars.
There have been several incarnations of the Gibson Explorer throughout James’s career, all of which have been affection named, such as; “More Beer”, “So What”, “Eet Fuk” “Elk Skull”, “Rusty”
The Gibson Explorer was way ahead of its time back in 1958. Today its seen as one of the most recognisable and iconic guitar shapes in the rock world.
Other guitarists that also made the Gibson Explorer their guitar of choice include:
The Edge – U2
Dave Grohl – Foofighters
Pete Willis – Def Leppard
Allen Collins – Lynyrd Skynyrd