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James Hetfield's Equipment list

ESP Guitars
James' ESP Explorers
They are all based upon the standard ESP EXP series and were built or overseen by Matt Masciandaro. Meanwhile the EXP series has been replaced by the ESP EX standard series which has a sharp shape for its ends and headstock instead of the old EXP series which was comparable to the rounded shape of the Gibson Explorers.

The difference between the EXP model and James' Explorers
In difference between James' Explorers and the standard ESP EXP series, James guitars have set-necks (glued joint) instead of bolt-on necks. Besides the "Black Album" guitars' fingerboards consist of ebony instead of rosewood.

Identical to the EXP model
The body consists of mahogany, the neck of maple and the fingerboard (with its 22XJ [XJ=extra jumbo] frets) of rosewood. All hardware (the tune-o-matic bridge, the stop piece and tuners) is black. It has one volume control for each pickup.


ESP Guitars


Black Explorer - deer skull inlays

Black Explorer - dot inlays jbexp.jpg (5943 bytes) Except the usual differences James' ESP Explorer got to the standard models this Explorer is very similar to a common one.

Black Explorer - eagle inlays

Black Explorer - "FUK EM UP"

Black Explorer - man to wolf inlays mantowolf.gif (46399 bytes) This guitar is the same model as most of James' ESP Explorers, being the difference on the inlays. This particular guitar has a man turning into a wolf as inlays. It starts as a man on what seems the 22nd fret, and finishes as a wolf on the first fret.

Black Explorer - N.R.A. (National Rifle Association) inlays

Black Explorer - snake inlays jsnake1.jpg (7742 bytes) This guitar is mainly used to be played D-tuned.

Black Explorer - woodburned elk skull, barbed wire inlays On the body is an elk skull graphic and on its headstock a barbed wire graphic which were both made by Dino Murdian. It has the 4-M-star logo burnt on the back.

Black JH-1 Flying V - red hot rod flame jh1a-02.jpg (9300 bytes) Maybe a reason for why he uses the green V instead of the red one could be because of the strap button locations. If you look closely, the strap button on the red one is at the very tip of the V, but on the green one it's "inside" the V. The green one is easier to wear.

Or he simply used the red one for "Load" and the green one for "ReLoad" gigs.

Black JH-1 Flying V - green hot rod flame jh1b-01.jpg (12318 bytes) The original ESP JH-1 series was constructed in an amount of 200 guitars (only the red flame guitars). The authenticity of the ESP JH-1 signature series is provable by an individual numbering for each of the 200 original guitars which were constructed.

Black JH-2 Explorer - black diamond plate (body), deer inlays jh2-01.jpg (9968 bytes) The surface of the guitar's body is a black diamond plate.


Black JH-3 Rounded Top Eclipse - flag inlays jh3-01.jpg (12795 bytes) This electric-guitar is the signature ESP JH-3 Rounded Top Horizon. It has custom flag inlays. Its 22 jumbo fret large fingerboard consists of rosewood, the body of mahogany and its neck of maple. It has a golden hardware - the purchasable version has black hardware. The guitar is set-neck constructed.

Black Explorer - black diamond plate blackdplate.gif (34116 bytes) The surface of the guitar's body is a black diamond plate.

This guitar is mainly used to be played D-tuned.

Black Explorer - black diamond plate- 4M logo at 1st fret and diamonds at the rest blackdplate2.gif (35529 bytes) This is the same model as the JH2 Black Explorer - Black Diamond Plate (above) but it has a particular feature which is the 4-M star logo on the 1st fret and doesn't have the deer skull's on the remaining frets.

Black Explorer - chrome diamond plate (body & headstock) #1 mother2.gif (42083 bytes) James used this guitar at the MTV Movie Awards in the year 2000 edition where Metallica performed I Disappear live. It has the 4-M star on the first fret made in mother of pearl.

Black Explorer - chrome diamond plate (body & headstock) #2

White Explorer - "EET FUK" (1st ESP) eetfuk.gif (24837 bytes) This was James' first ESP guitar. Is has "EET FUK" written on it as you can see on the photo and the inlays are of extended middle fingers.

White Explorer - dot inlays favoriteesp.gif (36350 bytes) This is James' all time favorite ESP guitar. It is covered with many stickers, one saying "So Fucking What" (top left) and other of "Mud flap woman" (bottom right). It was James' main recording guitar for The Black Album and Load album.

LTD "The Grynch" - green flames jgrynch0.jpg (6540 bytes) This signature model guitar of James has custom green and red metallic flames on its headstock and on the front and back of its body. At the 12th fret is written "Grynch". This guitar has 6 strings but is tuned down to B like an usual 7 string guitar. So the higher E string is missing.

Other Guitars Used For On-Stage
White Gibson Explorer - So What sowhat2.gif (34426 bytes) This Gibson white explorer has black headstock and a different knob display than the current explorers. It has a couple of different stickers one that says "so what". James first used the explorers after he broke the headstock on his Gibson V.

White Gibson Explorer - MORE BEER beer1.gif (34800 bytes) White with black headstock, has Seymore Duncan pickups. Different knob layout than his current explorers.
Has sported different stickers - "More Beer" and a Jagermeister label (picture on the side)

Ken Lawrence Explorer kenlaw1.jpg (30738 bytes)

The specialty of the Kenny Lawrence Explorer:
In difference between this Explorer-shaped guitar James' other Explorers, this one has a modified headstock. This guitar is no "stock product" - it's a special design.

Otherwise Ken Lawrence is specialized in building hand-made basses which makes a guitar built by him even more unusual.


Fender reissue '52 Telecaster w/Parsons-White B-Bender system
(Only used live once at the American Music Awards in 1998)


jftele52.jpg (7661 bytes) This electric-guitar is a butterscotch blond colored reissued version of the Fender '52 Telecaster model. It has 21 frets and a black pickguard. Its body consists of ash and its fretboard of maple. This guitar is equipped with a Parsons-White B-Bender system.

National ResoLectric resolectric.gif (41191 bytes) The body is made of African mahogany topped with a highly figured maple veneer. Has a single layer ivoroid for both binding and the pickguard. The neck is 14 frets to the body, made of eastern hardrock maple. There's a P-90 pickup in the neck position combined with the Highlander IP-1X pickup in the saddle. There are three volume controls, one for each of the two pickups and one Master volume, wired in conjunction with a 3-way toggle switch.

National Reso-Phonic Style "O" resophonic.gif (43947 bytes) The brass body of STYLE "O" single resonator guitar is etched with the traditional Hawaiian motif front-and-back plus a side-stripe; then it is nickel plated. The hand-carved hardrock maple neck with slotted headstock has an ebony fretboard bound in crossgrain ivoroid. The tuners are open gear, nickel-plated, 3-on-a-plate.

Gibson Chet Atkins Accoustic/Electric

1963 Gibson SG - Cherry Red

(Used for Turn The Page Video)

j63gibsn.jpg (8870 bytes) This electric guitar is 1963 Gibson SG model. Its neck consists of mahogany and its fingerboard of rosewood.


Other Guitars Used For Recording/Non-Stage


1966 Martin D-28 (acoustic) martind28.gif (39815 bytes) This acoustic guitar was probably used by James to record Mama Said, from Load. It's a D-28 model from Martin guitars. It has a total of 20 frets (14 clean).

Late '50's Gibson Les Paul - Sunburst Standard

Late '50's Gibson Les Paul - Gold Top

Late '50's Gibson Les Paul - Custom

Gibson EDS-1275 (double neck) "Nothing Else Matters" video

Gretsch White Falcon II (model 7594) gwf2-01.jpg (9605 bytes) In Gretsch's tradition this guitar was constructed by hand. It is a reissue of the original White Falcon serie which has been constructed for the first time in 1950. In contrast to the 'White Falcon I' serie that reissue has a double-cutaway. The maple body has two F-perforations. The 22 frets large fretboard consists of ebony.

Coral Electric Sitar (Red)

Jaymz's broken Guitars
Epiphone Flying V

Jackson KV1 (King V - Dave Mustaine signature series)

Black Double-Neck Explorer - Duck inlays dnduck01.jpg (7424 bytes) This electric-guitar is a black double-necked ESP Explorer with a mahogany body and a rosewood fretboard. This guitar has 12 strings on the top neck and 6 strings on the bottom neck. The inlays are ducks.

Jaymz get burned with that guitar during a gig in Montreal on the 8th August '92 when the pyros to the song "Fade To Black" set in. It happened because the pyro-tech didn't inform the band that new pyro would be going along with the old pyro which only ignited along the wings of the stage. James assumed that the new pyro canceled out the previous pyro, so he stood on a point where a 12 foot flame from the old pyro ignited.

He also used exact the same double-necked ESP EXP model later on Woodstock'94. So this guitar either has been restored or rebuild for this show.


Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 Power Amps
Mesa Boogie Mark IV
Mesa Boogie Triaxis Preamp (Stock)
Mesa Boogie Triaxis Preamp (Modified)
Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier
Mesa Boogie Custom Graphic E.Q. Unit
Mesa Boogie Amp Switcher
Mesa Boogie 4x12 Speaker Cabinets
Roland JC 120
Celestion Vintage 30w Speakers


Bradshaw RSB-12 Switching System and Pedal Board
Bradshaw Patch Bay Custom
Boss SE-50 Stereo FX Processor
Juice Goose Rack Power 300
Aphex Parametric E.Q.
Morley Rack Mount Unit Custom
Peterson 520 Strobe Tuner


Other Equipment
Sony 820 Wireless Receivers and Transmitters
Nady 950 UHF Receivers and Transmitters
Pro Co Sound Cables
Ascot Road Cases
Ultra Case Guitar Stand
Earth III Guitar Straps


Ernie Ball Strings (.010-.046)
Gibson Strings


Dunlop Green Tortex .88 mm Guitar Picks





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