Metallica’s James Hetfield on the “fast” guitar that changed everything

Cliff Burton and James Hetfield in 1984
(Image credit: Pete Cronin/Redferns - Getty)

Metallica’s James Hetfield will release a new coffee table book later this year focusing on his guitar collection.

Titled Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield, the 400-page book will be published on October 17 through Permuted Press and feature portraits by photographer Scott Williamson, who previously worked with the Metallica frontman on his book Reclaimed Rust.

It’ll take the reader through Hetfield’s history with the instrument, from his first guitars through to “exotic instruments, vintage Gibsons, and custom one-offs.”

Hetfield will share stories about the guitars that have made an impact on his life and career - including his "cheap" Michael Schenker-inspired Electra Flying V – which he initially thought was a Gibson – as Metallica were starting their career.

In an excerpt from the book, Hetfield reflects: “Lars was as excited as I was and 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. 

“I’m not being overly dramatic in saying that if there was a guitar that changed the course of my history, it was the Electra OGV. It was a whole other level, and besides its shape and its stark whiteness, it demanded your eyes and attention. It wanted you to look at it, maybe because it’s shaped like an arrow, or maybe it just sounds and looks fast. It’s one of the fastest guitars I have to this day.”

He adds: “It gave me extra confidence, almost like a shield."

Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield is available for pre-order now.

Metallica, meanwhile, are gearing up to release their new studio album 72 Seasons on April 14. They'll then head out on the road across Europe and North America.

Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield

(Image credit: Permuted Press)
Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.