Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Rocks ‘Experimental Prototype’ Gibson Model Live, Gibson Brand President Hints at Possible Re-Release of This Rare Model

Back in the 1950s, Gibson explored (pun intended) some uncharted territories of the possible guitar body and headstock shapes. For a guitar like Explorer, it took some time to catch on, ultimately becoming one of the staple models. Flying V was also one of the “out there” models that were ahead of their time.

However, Gibson still had a few things that were either experimental prototypes, limited-run options, or even just sketches. Such was the case with the Theodore guitar launched in 2022.

Gibson Archive Collection | First Look at the Theodore Guitar w/Joe Bonamassa

But another model could see a reworked version soon. In a new Instagram post, Gibson Brand President Cesar Gueikian reflected on Kirk Hammet’s recent use of a special Gibson Moderne prototype during an encore of Metallica’s recent show at BottleRock Napa Valley Festival.

The said performance, taking place on May 27, saw Kirk taking a black Moderne with a 6-in-line headstock, differing from the model’s original design from the 1950s. You can check it out in the embedded player below.

METALLICA - Battery | Live | HD | BottleRock Napa Valley 2022 | Napa Ca 5/27/22

Taking to his Instagram, Gibson’s Cesar Gueikian said:

“Experimental Prototype from the Gibson Lab. The concept developed with Kirk was ‘modernize the Moderne.‘ Will we release it in the future? We don‘t know (yet)

You can check out the screenshot of the post below. Click the image to check out the post on Instagram.

To those not familiar with the model, Moderne was, along with Explorer and Flying V, one of Gibson’s old ideas to compete with Fender’s Stratocaster and Telecaster models which blew up in the 1950s. However, it went no further than the drawing board which received a very poor reception at NAMM back in 1957. There were, however, some prototypes here and there, and the guitar saw its release in the early 1980s.

In 2012, Gibson finally introduced the model. In 2013, Zakk Wylde got one of these as well, the so-called Moderne of Doom. The headstock was obviously changed, although it retained the 3+3 tuning machine formation. The one used by Kirk during a recent live show comes with a 6-in-line headstock. By the looks of it, it’s an Explorer headstock design.

Photo: Anna Hanks (Kirk Hammett (10678428174)), Instagram screenshot, YouTube screenshot


  • 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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.