As one of the most influential and iconic guitarists in the history of heavy metal, Kirk Hammett of Metallica has made his mark with his unmistakable sound and electrifying performances. Central to Hammett’s signature style are his beloved “Greeny” guitars – a pair of modified vintage axes that have become synonymous with his playing and the band’s music. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Kirk Hammett’s Greeny guitars, their history, modifications, and the enduring legacy they hold in the world of rock and metal music.
The Origin of ‘Greeny’ Guitars
The tale of Kirk Hammett’s Greeny guitars begins with a fateful encounter in a guitar shop in San Francisco in the early 1990s. Hammett came across a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard with a faded sunburst finish, and he was instantly captivated by its unique appearance and tone. The guitar had already been modified, with its original PAF humbucker pickups replaced with Seymour Duncan pickups, but Hammett saw its potential and acquired it, affectionately dubbing it “Greeny” due to its distinctive greenish hue.
The exact history and provenance of Greeny are a subject of debate among fans and experts alike. Some sources claim that it was originally owned by blues legend Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, while others attribute its origins to a different Les Paul with a similar finish. However, Hammett himself has stated that he doesn’t know the guitar’s true origin and that its history remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the allure of Greeny lies not in its backstory, but in the modifications and distinctive sound that Hammett has coaxed from it over the years.
Modifications and Sound
Kirk Hammett’s Greenie guitars have undergone several modifications to suit his playing style and tonal preferences. One of the most notable changes is the addition of a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, which allows Hammett to execute his signature dive bombs, squeals, and other whammy bar techniques with precision and stability. This modification, in combination with the guitar’s stock Seymour Duncan pickups, has contributed to Hammett’s distinctively searing and expressive lead guitar tone.
In addition to the Floyd Rose tremolo system, Hammett has also added his own custom touches to Greeny, such as a sticker of the classic Universal Studios monster movie character, the Mummy, on the guitar’s body. This sticker has become one of Greeny’s most recognizable features and has become synonymous with Hammett’s stage presence and showmanship.
Hammett’s affinity for Greeny is not limited to just one guitar, as he has acquired a second Greeny guitar, known as “Greeny #2,” which is a replica of the original with the same modifications and features. Both Greeny guitars have been mainstays in Hammett’s live performances and studio recordings, contributing to the iconic sound of Metallica’s music, particularly on classic albums such as “The Black Album,” “Load,” and “Reload.”
Legacy and Impact
The impact of Kirk Hammett’s Greeny guitars on the world of rock and metal music cannot be overstated. As one of the most influential guitarists of his generation, Hammett’s playing style and tone have helped shape the landscape of heavy metal music, and Greeny has been an essential tool in his arsenal. The guitar’s distinctive look, unique modifications, and powerful sound have made it an instantly recognizable symbol of Hammett’s artistry and Metallica’s music.