Watch: METALLICA's JAMES HETFIELD Unboxes 'Messengers' Book
November 21, 2023
METALLICA's James Hetfield has shared an unboxing video for his book "Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield", which is being released today (Tuesday, November 21) via Permuted Press. Check it out below.
In the 400-page book, Hetfield shares his personal collection of treasured guitars and reveals the story and significance of each within his life and career as the frontman, guitarist and songwriter for METALLICA.
From the Electra OGV that defined his style, sound and attitude to the mythical MX guitars, the first in a series of iconic collaborations with ESP, and from his signature Snakebytes through his ambitious projects with renowned luthier Ken Lawrence, Hetfield shares the emotional and technical elements of the chosen tools that have shaped his singular musical journey, including exotic instruments, vintage Gibsons, and custom one-offs. He also reveals many studio secrets, including the key amplifiers and gear that sculpt his tone and create his sound.
Each featured guitar is accompanied by lush museum-quality portraits by acclaimed photographer Scott Williamson, exhibiting intimate details one can only see if holding it in their own hands, alongside Hetfield's deeply personal reminiscence. Spanning more than forty guitars, ranging from the original battle-scarred road warriors to the trusted studio stalwarts and enduring tour favorites, "Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield" is a meticulously crafted coffee table book and a mesmerizing window into the mind and soul of one of rock's greatest frontmen. These invaluable guitars have forged over four decades of music history.
A few years ago, Hetfield told Music Radar about his guitar tone: "[It's] the never-ending quest for the Holy Grail of guitar sounds. For me it's got to be percussive. It's got to push air, what we call bark. It's got to bark. But I don't want it really abrasive, so any fake fuzz to me really just takes away from the sound. And it's tough because when you turn guitar sounds down, you really hear what they sound like and when you push them up it sounds a different way. So we're trying to find that balance of enough mid push while still sounding big and what I've found is the wider and bigger you make it sound, the thinner it becomes in a way, at least depth-wise. You've got to find your space, elbow your way in there and sonically make some room. And it varies throughout certain songs. The guitar is really important in this song but this one, maybe it's all about groove. I think we're learning to be a little more forgiving on each other's need for volume [laughs] and look at the big picture."
In a promotional video for Ernie Ball, Hetfield discussed some of his early musical influences, saying: "For me it was a little more raw, the stuff that I liked. Discovering bands like AC/DC, then JUDAS PRIEST, and then the whole New Wave Of British Heavy Metal came out, and that was IRON MAIDEN, then MOTÖRHEAD and BLACK SABBATH, for sure, was a number one influence for me. Seeing that first album cover and seeing that first IRON MAIDEN album cover, it drew me right to it. I just got continually heavier and heavier as I was discovering music."
Hetfield went on to shed light on the mechanics of his guitar playing: "I'm kind of a little bit of a barbarian when I play. I'm always interested in the riff. It was the foundation of the song. Tony Iommi, he's ruling the song with his riff and everything else joins him. Johnny Ramone, lots of down picking lots of, you know, just fast down picking. That helped develop my style. So kind of a combination of punk rock and heavy rock at the time turned into just the down-picking style and with melody along with it."
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