Kirk Hammett Guitars

Kevin Ott
Kirk Hammett performing live in Italy

If you've ever heard the monstrous (yet strangely addicting and grooving) guitar riff of "Enter Sandman" on the radio, then you've heard Kirk Hammett's guitar. As the lead guitarist for the legendary metal band Metallica, Hammett has become one of the greatest guitarists in history. It's no surprise then that his guitar models are hot items and high quality instruments.

What Kirk Hammett Plays

According to Ground Guitar, Kirk Hammett plays mostly ESP guitars. He switches off between different custom models from his signature KH2 line. The paint jobs on these custom guitars are often inspired by the films of Boris Karloff. Besides the ESP line, he has been known to play a 1970s Gibson Flying V, a Jackson Flying V, a Fernandez Stratocaster, and ESP guitars such as the following:

ESP MM-270 "Zorlac"

This classic guitar happened to be the first ESP that Kirk played. He obtained it in the 80s, and it featured a skull and crossbones paint job on a black body. It has the following features:

  • Maple neck
  • Double cutway alder body
  • Rosewood fingerboard with 24 frets
  • EMG 81 neck pickup
  • EMG 60 bridge pickup

ESP MM-290 "Caution"

Hammett started using this guitar during the era of Metallica's Black album, one of the best-selling albums of all time of any genre. This guitar design had a big influence on rock music history, and it had the following features:

  • Black alder body
  • Maple neck
  • Two EMG humbuckers
  • Floyd Rose bridge
  • An orange sticker that says "Caution Hot"
  • A small sticker on the neck pickup that says "Kirk's Guitar"
  • This guitar has sometimes been nicknamed the "Skull & Crossbones II."

Guitars With the Kirk Hammett Brand

ESP has made a robust line of guitars bearing the signature of Kirk Hammett, approved by him and often used by him in more recent times. The following guitars are current models in ESP's Kirk Hammett Signature Series:

KH-WZ

Inspired by the classic horror film "White Zombie" starring Bela Lugosi, the Kirk Hammet White Zombie signature guitar has a stylish vintage-infused horror film graphic covering the body. Its style reflect Hammett's appetite for the macabre (including his fixation with Boris Karloff films.) You can purchase one for around $1000. The guitar has some impressive features to go along with the stylish vintage horror film art:

  • Alder body
  • Maple neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Bat and spider inlays
  • Floyd Rose bridge
  • EMG active pickups

KH-2 Vintage

This incredible work of art is a replica of the classic MM-290 "Caution" guitar mentioned above that Hammett used during some of Metallica's most successful periods in metal history. It has a worn look to it, as if it has just come off a long tour around the world with Metallica. This includes distressed paint and small chips and pitting in the body to give it an authentic look. It includes the famous "CAUTION HOT" sticker and the "Kirk's Guitar" label so famous from the original version. It is custom-built by some of the best luthiers in the world in ESP's custom shop in Japan. You can find it at guitar retailers for about $5000. It also has:

  • A neck-thru-body
  • Alder wood
  • Extra-thin U-shaped maple neck
  • 24 extra-jumbo frets
  • Kirk's classic skull and bones inlays
  • High-end Gotoh tuners
  • EMG 60 neck active pickup
  • EMG 81 bridge active pickup

It's so unique, it comes with an ESP Certificate of Authenticity.

The Classic Metallica Sound

If you want the sound that Metallica used to breathe fire on the music world, look no further than a Kirk Hammett guitar. ESP makes them with quality ingredients, and they have an elegant touch to them behind the fierce metal that reflects Hammett's diverse playing style. They also look extremely cool, which never hurts.

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Kirk Hammett Guitars