“For 40 years, guitar manufacturers have been trying to get me to flaunt their product”: Lars Ulrich turns his hand to guitar demos for the first time – while Kirk Hammett shreds on a Strat

Metallica demo the Juanes signature Strat
(Image credit: Kirk Hammett / Brett Murray / Instagram)

There was no question that when Fender launched a Stratocaster spec’d up by and bearing the name of Colombian guitar superstar Juanes that it was going to sell. This HSS Strat even has an onboard mid-boost preamp. Sheesh! 

But it doesn’t hurt to have some organic marketing pushing the thing, a little help from your friends, and Juanes could count on Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Rob Trujillo and Lars Ulrich, who have put together a demo video for his new signature guitar.

Posted to Kirk Hammett’s Instagram page, shot by Metallica’s touring photographer, Brett Murray, it is not going to put the wind up Andy Martin anytime soon – there’s some work to be done on the production values to challenge the top-tier gear demo pros.

But in the years to come, this demo might be looked upon as a culturally significant document, then moment when Ulrich broke his 40-year taboo on promoting guitars – and finally felt comfortable playing guitar for his public. 

For 40 years, guitar manufacturers have been trying to get me to flaunt their product

Lars Ulrich

No, Ulrich is not entirely sure that what he is holding is a Strat – Kirk can confirm to the affirmative – but that’s not what’s important right now.

“We fuckin’ love you and you know that!” says Ulrich to camera, directed to Juanes. “You know what? I just want say one thing, you know we love you. For 40 years, guitar manufacturers have been trying to get me to flaunt their product. It took your guitar, and your signature… Strat? It took this for me to free myself to the point of sharing my guitar-playing abilities with the world.”

As such we get some open chords, strummed up across the fingerboard a la Keith Richards, and the feeling that Ulrich is holding back on us. This is one half of the most powerful writing duo in metal history – he knows what’s what.

Besides, Hammett was on hand for shred duties, ripping some pentatonics on the neck pickup to show us what this Juanes Strat can do. “Cool guitar, man. It’s a really super-cool guitar,” says Hammett.

And it is. Finished in Luna White – the color named after Juanes’ oldest daughter – it has a solid alder body, a bolt-on maple neck with a Deep C profile that fills out as you ascend the fingerboard, and very modern compound 10”-14” radius. 

And it really is a “do anything Strat”, with its HSS pickup configuration featuring a pair of Custom Juanes Ultra Noiseless single-coils at middle and neck positions, with a Custom Juanes Alnico II humbucker. But the pièce de résistance is an onboard mid-boost preamp capable of applying an extra 12dB of oomph to the mids at the touch of an S1 Switch.

“I like going straight into the amplifier when I can, or might just use one pedal here and there,” Juanes told Guitar World. “But I decided that having a boost on my actual guitar could come in handy, especially when I’m playing shows. I have everything right here in my hands and it’s all very clear for me.”

You can read all about the Strat and more in GW’s in-depth interview with Juanes, and find out more at Fender. As for Hammett, Trujillo and Ulrich, is this the start of a demoing career? 

If so, Juanes approves.

“I can’t believe this! Thank you guys so much,” he wrote, commenting on the post. “This is absolutely fucking cool! Such a honor to know you guys have my guitar.”

What else do you want to see Metallica demoing? An Epiphone Dave Mustaine Flying V Prophecy? John 5’s Ghost Telecaster? Answers on a postcard.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.