James Hetfield Built a Guitar Out of the Garage Where Metallica Wrote Its Early Records

James Hetfield (2009). Photo by: Jeff Fusco / Stringer. Getty Images.

Like so many bands before it, Metallica spent much of its earlier years playing in a garage. But in its case, years after writing classic metal albums Kill ‘Em All and Master of Puppets in said garage, the group was in a position to relocate the building into its current and considerably larger practice space.

In Metallica lore, the garage has taken on historic importance, having been namechecked on 1987’s The $5.98 E.P.—Garage Days Re-Revisited and the 1998 covers album Garage Inc. For Record Store Day this year, the band will be re-releasing the Garage Days Re-Revisited EP.

James Hetfield talks about his new guitar on Metallica TV.

As James Hetfield said in an interview yesterday with Metallica TV, he thought it’d be "pretty fucking rockstar-like" to take the garage from the house on Carlson Boulevard in El Cerrito, California—where Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich lived from 1983 to ‘86—and bring it inside the group’s new expansive room.

Unfortunately, the garage had been torn down some time before. But after reconnecting with some friends from the area, Hetfield learned that some of the wood had been saved. He brought the boards to luthier Ken Lawrence, who has built Explorer-style guitars for Hetfield before, to craft a new ax from the old structure.

As you can see in the video above, Lawrence went all-out to preserve the roughness of the original boards, even keeping bent nails in the guitar’s body. And on the neck inlays, Lawrence created an artistic scene that preserves the memory of the band and its late bassist Cliff Burton—who agreed in 1983 to join the then-L.A.-based band only if they moved to El Cerrito.

Check out the video above for the full story of the guitar and Hetfield’s plans for showing it off on the road.

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