Gibson teases Moderne reissue as Kirk Hammett uses prototype onstage with Metallica

Earlier this year, we got our first look at a potential Kirk Hammett signature Gibson Flying V. Now, it seems, Hammett has publicly taken another Gibson prototype for a test drive onstage with the thrash titans.

When Metallica emerged for the encore of their May 27 headline set at the BottleRock Festival in Napa, California, Hammett was wielding a black electric guitar that clearly resembled Gibson's (mostly) lost Moderne model.

In a subsequent Instagram post, Gibson Brand President Cesar Gueikian confirmed that the black-finished guitar was indeed a legit Gibson Moderne. You can see it in action – in fan-filmed footage of the band's performance of Battery from that evening – below.

The guitar, Gueikian explained in the caption of his post, is an "experimental prototype from the Gibson Lab."

"The concept developed with Kirk was 'modernize the Moderne'," Gueikian added. "Will we release it in the future? We don’t know (yet)."

Envisioned by Ted McCarty, the Moderne design was patented by Gibson in 1957, along with two other Gibson designs you might have heard of – the Flying V and the Explorer.

All three of those futuristic models were initially met with broad skepticism from the nascent guitar industry and buying public, but the latter two, of course, eventually caught on. The Moderne, however, wasn't so lucky.

Far ahead of its time, the guitar didn't even go into limited production following its chilly reception, and wasn't issued in any form until the early '80s. Even then though, the model sold in limited quantities and quickly fell out of production once again, before getting resurrected a second time in 2012.

How would a 2022 Moderne model fit into Gibson's, erm, modern lineup, then? Well, we have a hunch...

Back in March, the storied company announced the creation of a new Archive Collection with a brand-new model called the Theodore. Sketched out by none other than Ted McCarty in 1957, the Theodore was – 65 years later – brought splendidly to life by the Gibson Custom Shop.

One wonders if the Moderne will be next in line for the Archive Collection...

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.