Dave Mustaine Addresses ’Significant Design Change’ to His Signature Gibson Les Paul to Make It More Thrash-Friendly

Megadeth mastermind and frontman Dave Mustaine recently shared a few details about his much-anticipated signature Gibson Les Paul guitar. Although a bit of an unexpected choice for a thrash metal musician, Dave has been with Gibson for a while now with a specially designed and adapted signature Flying V model.

While talking to Guitar World, Dave was asked to share a few details about this upcoming Les Paul which is still kept outside of the watchful eyes of the guitar-oriented media. Reflecting on this unconventional and 24-fret Les Paul, Mustaine explained a few details that we previously didn’t know about:

“It’s got my Seymour Duncan pickups and Grover tuners. It’s got my handpicked burst finish. We’ve shaved the back of a neck down where it meets the body for easier access for soloing. [With] most Les Pauls, access stops around the 21st fret, but with mine, you can get all the way to the 24th.”

“That extra access lets you nestle your hand in the cutaway on the back, which is a significant design change. The headstock is the classic Les Paul headstock. But it does not have the Gibson Custom Shop inlay; I’ve got my little insignia. The part I’m still working on is the poker chip. I can’t decide if I want cream or black. I’m leaning toward black, but I’m still mulling it over.”

So, obviously, one would assume that Dave was so satisfied with the signature V model that he decided to tame Gibson’s Les Paul and modify it to his liking. Asked about whether the success of his Flying V inspired the Les Paul idea, Dave replied:

“I’m known for using Vs, but I’ve been planning this with Gibson for around 18 months. I’ve always wanted to design a Les Paul for thrash players but never got around to it. And Gibson was pleasantly surprised with the orders for my V, so we made it happen.

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“I went to the Gibson factory a couple of weeks ago, and when I got there, every room had my Vs stacked up and being built. The success of the V has been incredible; I’ve never seen anything like it when I’ve visited the ESP or Dean factories.”

Going deeper into the matter, Dave was asked to explain what drew him to V-shaped guitars in the first place. He said:

“My first electric guitar was an $80 Gibson SG copy; after that, I got a Les Paul copy. Not long after I started playing in Panic, I started using an Ibanez Destroyer, a copy of a Gibson Explorer. And when I joined Metallica, I came upon the V, but I didn’t think much of it because of the weird shape. I didn’t think it was very playable, but I soon realized its versatility because I could do a lot with it once I got comfortable.”

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He also added:

“Once I learned I could rest the guitar between my legs, that was a game changer in the studio. With that, I could take my hands off the guitar and have them float instead of holding the neck upright to keep a grip. And I eventually got comfortable with it live, too. After that, I became fascinated with its beautiful shape; it’s iconic. So much so that it’s become a signature of what I do in Megadeth.”

The news of Dave also working on a signature Les Paul came in November 2022. And not only that — before the LP idea was announced, Dave and Gibson also teased a potential new Explorer signature model. In an interview with Songfacts, he said:

“Right now with Gibson I have the Flying V, we’re working on the Explorer, and we have a 24-fret Les Paul I finished creating, but this is something for next year, maybe the year after.


Apart from all of that, Mustaine also has an acoustic guitar with Gibson as well. Yes, another unexpected addition but it’s still something that people took a lot of interest in last year.

About a year ago, Dave also appeared on Gibson’s YouTube channel to share a few details about his signature Gibson Flying V. He said:

“As far as guitars are concerned, if you ask someone to draw a guitar, they’ll draw a Flying V. As soon as the opportunity came for me to get a signature line, I wanted to make it my own.

“It started with just some simple changes with input on the leg, on the inside of the leg. Second most important thing, is most of the guitars come with my Thrash Factor pickups or the Live Wire active pickups. The Thrash factors are passive and Live Wires are active. So either way, you can have the guitar the way that you wanted to pick up and put into that.

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“And the number one most important thing on the guitar was that we made it a 24-fret guitar. That, for me, is part of my favorite area on the guitar, up in the 12th fret and above area, higher strings.

“Flying V is so easily identifiable, the silhouette to me is identifiable… It’s like when you hear somebody’s voice, you know right away, you can hear their voice and you know. Like, when you hear Axl [Rose], or James [Hetfield] or me, I think those prove that you’ve become a brand that you’ve become something dependable for the public.

As of this moment, Gibson has three Dave Mustaine Flying V EXP variants. Two are regular Gibsons, costing $2,799 and $2,999. The third one is a Gibson Custom Shop and is priced at $6,999. You can get more info about these guitars here.

Photos: Selbymay (HF2022Megadeth 4), Martin Hesketh (Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus headstock (2014-08-16 06.06.49 by Martin Hesketh))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.