I’ve been a Metallica fan since I was 16 when I was a fourth former in SDAR. Thanks to my kutu dorm-mates, I’ve to add.

I remembered wowing aforementioned dorm-mates with acoustic solo bit to Puppets (at about 3:30) and that was the only thing I could play. James Hetfield was pretty much the band member I kinda looked up to when it comes to guitar playing, as I could never emulate Kirk Hammett even if my life depended on it. So, when it came to buying a Metallica-inspired guitar, the choice of an Explorer was an obvious one. I did think of getting an ESP Explorer[1] like Hetfield, but the ESP (or LTD) ones available for plebs like me at that time had bolt-on necks. They also cost more than the Gibson. Hence, believe it or not, I had no choice but to buy a Gibson. And I didn’t even own a Gibson Les Paul yet then[2].

I opted for a cherry finish (the other finish available was black) when I made an order at Sheffield’s Sound Control on Paternoster Row in 1999, as I already owned two black guitars, an unusual colour for an Explorer. However, there’s a stupid story behind this. I never thought the ‘cherry’ in the description provided by Gibson meant the finish as what you’d get with an SG. Gibson at one point did make a natural finish for the Explorer and that was where I got confused[3]. Don’t ask.

The Explorer has a mahogany body and its weight almost broke my back[4]! Playability is otherwise superb. I find that she is best played slung low, and emulating Hetfield isn’t the only reason as I find downstrokes are way easier. She has a set mahogany neck and the fretboard is rosewood with dot inlays. She comes with a 500T “Super ceramic” humbucker at the bridge position and a neck 496R “Hot ceramic”. I initially thought of hotrodding her with a EMG 81/60 set, but it would’ve been overkill. I wouldn’t have afforded them anyway. The stock passive pickups are already of the high output ceramic types, and it’s loud enough.

When I first bought it, I mainly used it to jam with my Live Shit: Binge & Purge DVD at home[5], and occasionally jamming with mates at a rehearsal room. I didn’t get to gig with the Explorer until 3 years later at the Malaysian students’ gig at Northumbria Uni in Newcastle and the infamous Temasya Pria Mambo 2 in Sheffield. I will regret posting this up in this entry, but here is yours truly (trying too hard) performing a cover of Staind‘s For You:

The Explorer is currently holed up in the house back in KL. She really needs some sprucing up, especially her frets!

Anyways, Metallica or not, in line with my other guitars, the Explorer has been christened SAKURAchan. For obvious reasons.

[Post updated 21.2.2017]

[1]ESP has since stopped production of the Explorer shape for the non-Japanese market. Despite popular belief, this wasn’t due to ESP being sued by Gibson but more of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that ESP wouldn’t make them available outside Japan (Mune Nagahama, ESP Japan executive VP). The ESP EXP model that were then available for the non-Japanese market had bolt-on necks.

But if you were to get the Japan-only MX-250, which costs a bomb, these ones will have set necks as you would a Gibson.
[2]The Epi Black Beauty doesn’t count. :P
[3]This was the finish that I thought I was getting. D’oh.

[4]“Do you want hea-veyyyy? Metallica gives you hea-veyyyy, bay-beyyyyy!!!” Uh huh.
[5]I am sad like that.