James Hetfield’s 1969 Gibson SG Standard

James bought this guitar in 1979 from a friend from high school who played in the school’s jazz band. His mother helped him out with the payment, which was around $200.

There was a kid in my high school, Downey High, who was in the jazz band, who was selling his guitar. He had – I think it was a 69 SG with the tremolo and he wanted to sell it. He said “You want it?”, and I said, “Yeah how much do you want?”.

He said 200 bucks, and so I begged my mom and, you know, did chores, did whatever I could and she said yeah – she bought me my first real guitar.

Metallica’s James Hetfield At Guitar Center
James Hetfield, aged 16, playing his SG guitar. Thanks Tom for the photo.

James used this guitar to write some of his first songs, and while playing in a couple of high school bands, including “Obsession”.

By the time Metallica came together, James had transitioned to using a white Flying V guitar, and the SG was no longer in his possession. Hetfield explained that he had exchanged the SG for a PA system, as he was aspiring to become a singer – a dream he ultimately fulfilled.

And the second guitar I had was, like, a ’69 SG that some kid sold me in high school for $200. I traded it for a PA because I wanted to be the singer, because everyone was looking for a singer back then.

James Hetfield – source unknown


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