Kirk Hammett debuts new custom Fender, Gibson and ESP guitars at Metallica’s Helping Hands Concert

Kirk Hammett of Metallica performs onstage during Metallica Presents: "The Helping Hands Concert" at Microsoft Theater on December 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

On Friday (December 16), Metallica played their third annual Helping Hands charity concert in support of the band’s All Within My Hands Foundation nonprofit. The metal titans used the occasion as an excuse to experiment – the night saw them perform both acoustic and electric sets, cover Thin Lizzy and UFO, tackle new single Lux Æterna for the first time, and invite St. Vincent onto LA’s Microsoft Theater stage for Nothing Else Matters.

But it wasn’t just the setlist getting a do-over: Kirk Hammett’s guitar choices showcased a wealth of new designs for the long-serving lead guitarist, and they came from a trio of companies.

Perhaps the most unexpected addition to his live arsenal is two new custom Fender American Acoustasonic Jazzmasters, which accompanied the guitarist on acoustic-electric versions of Thin Lizzy’s Borderline and Whiskey in the Jar, and UFO’s It’s Killing Me.

Both guitars seem to offer the regular Acoustasonic Jazzmaster feature set, but have been customized with horror-vibed fretboard inlays, while their satin purple and black finishes are complemented by black binding and headstocks.

We know Hammett is a fan of the Acoustasonic – he previously used an Acoustasonic Strat during the band’s Helping Hands livestream in 2020 – but we weren’t expecting to see those guitars get a public outing, let alone with their own custom finishes. Surely Hammett can’t become a signature artist with a third guitar company?

Speaking of which, it looks like we may have also received another sneak preview of the Metallica man’s forthcoming signature Gibson Flying V, as he debuted a red sparkle number for set closer Seek & Destroy.

Certainly, the specs look to match the purple V wielded by the guitarist earlier this year, with a white pickguard, black uncovered pickups (no EMG Bone Breakers here) and an achingly cool matching red sparkle headstock.

Kirk Hammett of Metallica performs onstage as Metallica Presents: The Helping Hands Concert (Paramount+) at Microsoft Theater on December 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for P+ and MTV)

Of course, Hammett remains an ESP signature artist – lest we forget, the Japanese guitar brand is releasing its own red sparkle V-style model for the guitarist next year – and the Helping Hands Concert also played host to a radical new LTD Ouija Eclipse 12-string acoustic guitar.

Built by ESP’s USA Custom Shop, the mahogany-bodied model features a Fishman Sonicore pickup and Kirk’s trademark Ouija graphics in gold on a white-finished spruce top.

The guitar was signed by all four members of Metallica after the show, and is now up for auction to raise money for the All Within My Hands Foundation. At the time of writing, bids have exceeded $20,000.

Also accompanying Hammett that evening was, of course, Greeny, the legendary 1959 Les Paul previously owned by Peter Green and Gary Moore, and recreated by Gibson as the Gibson Custom Shop Collector’s Edition Kirk Hammett “Greeny” 1959 Les Paul Standard earlier this year.

This week, it was revealed that Aquaman star and die-hard Metallica fan Jason Momoa had secured the final model to leave the Custom Shop from the highly limited run of 50.

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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.