Dave Mustaine Says His Kramer Guitars ’Sounds Exactly the Same’ As Gibson Signature Models, Explains the Price Difference

As if Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine getting his Gibson signature models wasn’t strange enough, the news of him getting more affordable Kramer and Epiphone variants came in late May this year. Gibson’s subsidiary companies are now offering a total of four different models with their prices ranging from $1,299 and $1,499. In a recent interview on The Jeremy White Show, Mustaine went into a few more details about these new guitars. When asked about his new Gibsons, as well as these new Kramer and Epi models, the Megadeth frontman replied (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“It’s been all pretty magic for me. For whatever reason, I left Jackson, went to ESP, wasn’t happy there, went to Dean, was happy there until the person that had brought me there passed away [Elliott Rubinson]. Because we had a common vision.

“And after he passed away, I realized that I probably should get a new start somewhere with somebody who understands me. Because I don’t want to ruin anything for Dean.

Icons: Dave Mustaine of Megadeth

“And I don’t want to certainly ruin anything for myself. So I was gonna leave and I heard about Gibson, and we went there. And the deal of me being an endorser for Gibson alone was fantastic.

“But to be an ambassador for the company, which is a whole nother level, and to represent not only Gibson but Epiphone and Kramer, to have the classic shape with the round legs on the bottom and then to have the modern shape with the pointed legs on the bottom…

While reflecting on these new guitars, Mustaine also mentioned how the Kramer and Epiphone models are all done according to the Gibson model measurements:

“It’s the best of both worlds with the shapes and all three have my hand measurements for the neck. So it’s exactly the same, every guitar.

And, what’s more, Dave said that Kramers will get the same exact tone as Gibsons:

“So you pick up a Gibson and you play it and you go ‘Damn, this is a mighty guitar.’ And then you pick up a Kramer and you’re thinking, ‘It sounds exactly the same.'”

These new guitars, however, are way more modestly priced compared to Mustaine’s Gibsons. For the comparison’s sake, his standard Flying Vs are $2,799 and $2,999 while the Custom Shop version is $6,999. Mustaine then explained:

“Of course, there is history. Gibson, this higher value instrument to some people, thus the price point. And Kramer is a guitar that is about $1,600-1,700. Whereas the Gibsons are a little bit more. Epiphone is right in the middle there.”

Epiphone Dave Mustaine Flying V Custom! - Dave's Signature Specs On A BEAST Of A Flying V!

“And like I said, they all feel the same. So they’re all using my guitar pickups too, the [Seymour Duncan] Dave Mustaine Thrash Factors are the LiveWires, depending on how you want your guitar configured, if you want an active or passive guitar pickup. And with Gibson, we started off with passives. And it was just a love affair from the very beginning.

“And then going through the other lines with Epiphone and Kramer, it wasn’t really that difficult to make these lines that, all of a sudden, have serious metal credibility.”

Reflecting on Gibson not being traditionally associated with metal bands, Mustaine added:

“As somebody said to me when I first went to Gibson, they said, ‘Gibson isn’t a metal guitar company. I said ‘It is now.'”


One thing that the interviewer pointed out is that neither of these guitars comes with a whammy bar. Asked whether he was ever a “whammy bar guy,” Mustaine said:

“No, I was not. I used it on a couple songs. I used it on ‘When,’ I used it on ‘Wake Up Dead,’ and that’s about it. I don’t really know any other parts off the top of my head that I remember using a whammy bar. And for me, my belief is that whatever you do on the guitar with a whammy bar, you should be able to emulate with your fingers.”

He also added:

“Somebody who, for example, was a master with the whammy bar who we recently lost was Jeff Beck. And Jeff was a guy that I liked to listen to his technique with the whammy bar. More so than anyone else because most other people, besides David Gilmore, did not really know how to use the trem bar.”

Dave Mustaine Flying V™ EXP Rust In Peace

“Do you soften the chords like Chris Isaac did at the beginning of ‘Wicked Ways,’ or whatever the name of that song is? [‘Wicked Game’] That’s how I think it should be used, like Dick Dale and what those early ’60s Surf bands would get that kind of weird flying carpet kind of sound that they were trying to get along with being on the beach.”

Photos: KramerGuitars.com, Tilly Antoine (Dave Mustaine au Hellfest 2022)

  • 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.

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