Just about no electric guitar model on Earth is as storied or coveted as the sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard. Few of those legendary 'Bursts, meanwhile, have as much stature as "Greeny," the near-mythical 'Burst that was once owned by Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, before passing on first to Gary Moore, then – with a few, less noteworthy owners in between – to its current owner, Metallica's Kirk Hammett.
Greeny is most famous for its one-of-a-kind, "out-of-phase" tone, a result of Green replacing the guitar's neck pickup and accidentally putting it in backwards, creating the aforementioned sound when played in the middle position.
For good reason, then, Greeny's always been thought of as a 'Burst like no other. “I’ve always thought of Greeny as an anomaly, just as a result of the way it looks and sounds and everything it’s been through,” Hammett concurred to Guitar World in an interview. “It’s a unique, solitary instrument."
A surprising recent discovery though, casts at least some of the uniqueness of Greeny in doubt. The famous guitar, it turns out, has a sibling, and it's now – at first unknowingly – in the possession of Gibson Brand President Cesar Gueikian.
“We realized the two guitars have sequential serial numbers,” Gueikian reveals in the latest issue of Guitar World, “and our minds were blown.”
Hammett and Gueikian are good friends, and, it turns out, made the exciting discovery completely by chance.
“Cesar’s my bro, and we’re constantly talking about guitars,” Hammett said. “One day over the summer he called me up and said, ‘I just got an amazing Les Paul – it’s in The Beauty of the ’Burst book.’ I asked him for the serial number, and he read it off. And as I was reaching for my copy of The Beauty of the ’Burst to look it up, he said, ‘Wait a second – what’s Greeny’s serial number?’ So I took a picture of it and texted it to him.
"He looks at it and he goes, ‘Oh my god – it’s within four serial numbers of Greeny. This is amazing!’ ”
Gueikian’s Les Paul – which he and Hammett have now named "Gemini" – is serial number 9 2204, while Greeny is 9 2208. According to Gueikian, though, no other guitars were produced between the two Les Pauls.
“I got in touch with [Gibson Head of Product Development] Mat Koehler and the rest of the team, and we figured out that the numbers in the middle are only Skylark amps,” Gueikian said. “So the guitars are sequential twins in terms of being Les Pauls and ’Bursts.”
Though Greeny's pickup situation is, of course, unique – and now confirmed to be an aftermarket mod, given Gemini's middle pickup position isn't out of phase – Gueikian is of the belief that Gemini was cut from the same cloth as that guitar, so to speak.
“Our hypothesis is that they were probably cut from the same maple billet, because the flame patterns are very similar – slightly off – and the mineral streaks are almost identical in the way that they run vertically,” Gueikian explains.
Of course, once the discovery was made, Hammett was dying to get his hands on Gemini. Hammett and Gueikian subsequently decided to meet up in Northern California for a jam session.
“I picked up Cesar’s guitar and played [Gary Moore’s] Still Got the Blues, because it’s the greatest song to play for that syrupy Les Paul neck tone," Hammett says. "And it sounded dead-on like Greeny.”
For more on the story of the Gemini Les Paul, pick up the newest issue of Guitar World at Magazines Direct.