Owned first by Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, then by Gary Moore, and finally – with a few, less famous owners in the intervening years – by Metallica's Kirk Hammett, the legendary 'Burst possesses a unique, "out-of-phase" tone.
A product of Green replacing the guitar's neck pickup and accidentally putting it in backwards, the one-of-a-kind tone surfaces when the guitar is played in the middle position. For this reason, Greeny's always been thought of as a singular guitar, unique even among the legendary ranks of sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standards.
However, a recent discovery puts at least some of Greeny's singularity in doubt. As it turns out – Guitar World reports – the famous 'Burst has an older brother of sorts, and it's owned by none other than Gibson Brand President Cesar Gueikian.
Amazingly, Gueikian discovered his Les Paul's close relationship to Greeny completely by chance, while on the phone with Greeny's current owner.
“Cesar’s my bro, and we’re constantly talking about guitars,” Hammett told Guitar World. “One day over the summer he called me up and said, ‘I just got an amazing Les Paul – it’s in The Beauty of the ’Burst book.’ I asked him for the serial number, and he read it off. And as I was reaching for my copy of The Beauty of the ’Burst to look it up, he said, ‘Wait a second – what’s Greeny’s serial number?’ So I took a picture of it and texted it to him.
"He looks at it and he goes, ‘Oh my god – it’s within four serial numbers of Greeny. This is amazing!’ ”
Stranger still, according to Gibson records, Gueikian's Les Paul – which he and Hammett have lovingly dubbed "Gemini" – is, despite being four serial numbers ahead of Greeny, the guitar's closest relative.
“I got in touch with [Gibson Head of Product Development] Mat Koehler and the rest of the team, and we figured out that the numbers in the middle are only Skylark amps,” Gueikian explained. “So the guitars are sequential twins in terms of being Les Pauls and ’Bursts.”
Of course, Greeny's pickup situation remains unique – Gemini's middle position tone isn't "out of phase" – but Gueikian believes that Gemini still bears some striking similarities to its more famous sibling.
“Our hypothesis is that they were probably cut from the same maple billet, because the flame patterns are very similar – slightly off – and the mineral streaks are almost identical in the way that they run vertically,” Gueikian said.
Shortly after the chance discovery, Hammett and Gueikian got together in Northern California and, naturally, switched Les Pauls.
“I picked up Cesar’s guitar and played [Gary Moore’s] 'Still Got the Blues,' because it’s the greatest song to play for that syrupy Les Paul neck tone," Hammett said. "And it sounded dead-on like Greeny.”
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.