“I did not care that it was a copy of a Gibson” James Hetfield on the guitar that ‘changed the course of his history’

“It played great, it sounded great, and it had the look that I wanted,” the guitarist explains.

James Hetfield Performing

Image: Didier Messens / Getty Images

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Metallica frontman James Hetfield has opened up about the guitar that “changed the course of [his] history” in a new book detailing some of his most treasured gear.

Among the tales from Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield (arriving October), one tells of an electric guitar the Metallica frontman refers to as the ‘OGV’ — his original Electra Flying Wedge.

“I thought it was a Gibson Flying V, just like the one [UFO guitarist] Michael Schenker used,” Hetfield admits in the book (via Guitar World). “That’s all I cared about. It was white, it was a V-shape, it had a Gibson plate on it, and it was cheap.”

“Now I know why, because it was made in Japan. For me, it didn’t matter. Later on, I think when we were in New York the first time, somebody said, ‘Err, that’s not a Gibson! It’s got a bolt-on neck!’ I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.”

Recalling the “crappy five-dollar swap-meet guitar” he first learned to play on before he got his hands on the V, Hetfield notes that he “painted it probably ten times”, adding that the guitar even had Eddie Van Halen stripes on it at one point.

The guitarist’s search for a new axe began when he and Lars Ulrich agreed to play together in an appearance on the Metal Massacre compilation. Inspired by Schenker, not least his long blonde hair and white Flying V, Hetfield said that the OGV gave him that confidence boost he needed.

“What I think about most is how happy I was when Lars came over [to see it], because it felt like the beginning of all the ‘coolness’ that we were trying to achieve.”

“It felt like we had arrived… [like] we were going to make it… I did not care that it was a copy of a Gibson. It played great, it sounded great, and it had the look that I wanted,” Hetfield explains.

“I’m not being overly dramatic in saying that if there was a guitar that changed the course of my history, it was the OGV. It’s one of the fastest guitars I have to this day, with very, very good mids. It’s very clear but crunchy, too.”

“It gave me extra confidence,” he adds. “Almost like a shield.”

Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield will be available in Deluxe, Limited Edition and hardcover formats. Pre-orders for the book are now open.

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