James Hetfield’s 1984 Gibson Explorer 83 “More Beer”

This guitar served as James Hetfield’s backup from approximately 1984 to 1988 and was essentially a twin to his first Gibson Explorer. While at first nearly indistinguishable from the iconic “So What” Explorer, over the years the two sported various stickers that set them apart.

Sticker History

The first sticker that appeared on the guitar, which was sometime in 1985, was the one reading “PHA-KOUGH”. If you have any trouble understanding what this could mean, just say the words out loud and it should all become clear.

James’ Explorer reading “Pha-Kough” on the body.

Regarding the next phase in the “sticker timeline”, the information is conflicting. Depending on some sources, the guitar that sported “PHA-QHO” and a big “middle finger” sticker was not actually this guitar, but the one James borrowed from Bobby Gustafson from Overkill.

According to other sources, the “Pha-Qho” guitar was the same guitar that previously sported the “Pha-Kough” words.

Be that as it may, shortly after that, the guitar was seen with the words “More Beer!” written on a piece of tape, and some weirdly shaped stickers (or drawings) below the pickups.

The latter however quickly disappeared, and it seems that by 1988, James placed a large “Jegermeister” sticker on the body, and a piece of black tape on a headstock which masked the original Gibson logo. Many have assumed that he had done this because at that point he signed a deal with ESP Guitars, and there was a conflict of interest in him playing a Gibson-branded guitar.

Specs, Recent Usage

This guitar essentially followed the same timeline as James’ main Explorer. It started off as a stock “83” Explorer, finished in white, with two humbuckers (allegedly Seymour Duncans). Around 1987 he installed a set of EMG 81/60 active pickups, and that’s how the guitar remained to this day.

A more recent photo of James with the guitar. Credit: Mission Metallica Facebook page.


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