Ken’s guitar of choice in the Barbie Movie is… a Gibson Jerry Cantrell acoustic?

Ryan Gosling holding up a Jerry Cantrell Fire Devil Songwriter acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Barbie Movie/Twitter / Gibson)

If there was one name we weren’t expecting to feature quite so heavily in our headlines this year, it’s Barbie. Just last week, we pondered whether the upcoming Barbie Movie soundtrack, which features Slash and Wolfgang Van Halen, was set to be this year’s must-hear guitar collaboration. And now we have another surprise entry-point into Greta Gerwig’s hot-pink fever dream: the unlikely acoustic guitar that features in the movie.

Given the film is out tomorrow (July 21), the reason we know a guitar features at all is down to a new video clip posted to the official Barbie Movie social media accounts. In it, Ken (aka Ryan Gosling) apologizes to BTS star Jimin for stealing his black-and-white tassel outfit, before declaring that, under the Ken code, he will be giving away his most prized possession to the K-pop musician: Ken’s guitar.

Now, given the film’s sunny disposition, we didn’t expect Ken to be an Alice in Chains fan, but there is no mistaking the guitar Gosling holds up: with that bound black body, ‘Firefly’ pickguard and telltale ‘Jerry Cantrell’ truss rod cover, it’s Cantrell’s signature Gibson Fire Devil Songwriter acoustic, which launched early last year.

But Ken’s guitar has clearly undergone a few aesthetic alterations, with the addition of a galloping white stallion to the body, not to mention his own name, which proudly uses the none-more-metal Metallica font.

What are we supposed to read into this? Can we expect Cantrell and James Hetfield to cameo in the movie? And just how shred-heavy is this soundtrack going to be?

One thing’s for sure: we won’t hear Ken tearing up the fretboard, as Gosling reveals his character can’t really play the guitar – although you can spot the living doll strumming a few chords in the sneak preview of the film’s epic power ballad Just Ken, which also features a guitar solo from Slash.

It’s likely Gosling will have actually played guitar in the movie, too – he’s previously taken up the six-string in his own rock duo, Dead Man’s Bones, while he’s also a pretty tasty bass player.

We’ve reached out to Gibson for more information on how this unlikely collaboration came to be.

It wouldn’t be the first high-profile Gibson moment in recent movie history; back in 2020, the company armed Bill & Ted Face the Music with a wealth of instruments from across its brand portfolio.

All will become clear when the Barbie Movie lands in theaters on July 21.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.