Dave Mustaine’s Epiphone and Kramer signature models are finally here – and it looks like they’ve been worth the wait

Dave Mustaine's Epiphone Flying V Custom and Prophecy, and Kramer Vanguard signature guitars
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has unveiled the latest additions to Dave Mustaine’s ever-growing collection of signature guitars: a trio of long-awaited Epiphone and Kramer electric guitars.

More affordable Epiphone and Kramer signature models were promised way back in February 2021 when the Megadeth frontman’s partnership with Gibson was first announced, with these V-style models joining the flagship Gibson Flying V EXPs.

As such, they take the total tally of Mustaine-named Flying V models to a very generous six, with both brands closely following the precedent set by their parent company's premiere EXP Vs.

For fans of Mustaine, the Kramer and Epiphone models will no doubt be some of their most anticipated releases of the year, not least because of the price tags associated with the Gibson models – indeed, the most premium EXP available weighs in at $6,999.

Here, though, the prices are far more digestible: $1,399 for the Epis and $1,299 for the Kramers.

Starting with the Epis, a Stop Bar tailpiece-loaded Flying V Prophecy and String Thru-designed Flying V Custom make up the drop, with both featuring the same core components.

That means bound mahogany bodies, Artist Profile necks, Graph Tech nuts and bound 24-fret ebony fingerboards are present across the board, with the 24.75”-scale models also flashing bound headstocks and “Dave Mustaine”-embossed truss rod covers.

Elsewhere, similar control layouts have been employed – two volume controls, a tone pot and three-way switch – though each model comes equipped with slightly different pickup sets.

The Prophecy, which takes cues from Mustaine’s standard Gibson EXP variant, swaps out his signature Seymour Duncan Thrash Factor humbuckers for Fishman Fluence alternatives. As such, a push/pull tone pot has also been selected.

The Custom, meanwhile – which is more reminiscent of the $6,999 Limited Edition EXP – retains the Thrash Factors and a standard tone knob.

Other model-specific specs, aside from the hardware and electronics, can be found in the cosmetic department. While the Prophecy arrives in Aged Dark Red Burst – which is a nice nod to the EXP’s Red Amber Burst – the Custom is a no-nonsense Black Metallic.

Cosmetically speaking, it’s really only the finer details that set the two examples apart: the Gibsons, unsurprisingly, add some finer flourishes in the form of Black Watch Hat knobs and Mother of Pearl Mustaine inlays, while the Epiphones stick with knurled metal knob covers and standard dot inlays.

“It’s mind-boggling to think, ‘If I didn’t look at the headstock, I couldn’t tell this guitar apart from my Gibsons,’” Mustaine said of his new Epis. “I have to admit, I knew nothing about the Epiphone Flying V when I was offered my ambassador role with Gibson guitars. 

“I’m happy to say I know a lot more now about Epiphone, the manufacturing, the playability, and the incredible sound that they offer. My favorite is the red antique model, but we’re just getting started.”

The Kramers are perhaps the most anticipated of all Mustaine models, and not only mark the Megadeth maestro’s first-ever signature Kramers but also the most affordable Mustaine signature electrics currently on offer.

Weighing in at $1,299 each, the Kramer Dave Mustaine Vanguard is available in Ebony, Silver Metallic and a limited-edition “Rust in Peace” Alien Tech Green, with each flashing identical spec sheets.

With an ever-so-slightly longer scale length – 25.5” instead of 24.75” – and an altered symmetrical Vanguard body shape, these sigs are aesthetically even more metal than the Epis, though come loaded with Seymour Duncan Thrash Factor humbuckers for similar tones.

There are no surprises in the spec sheet, with a mahogany body, custom profile neck and 24-fret ebony fingerboard once again making the cut. Dot inlays are also utilized, as is a String Through design, two volume controls and master tone knob.

What's also notable is the fact there's no sign of the Natural-finished Vanguard that was showcased back in 2021. Whether that specific model has been shelved or will arrive further on down the road remains to be seen.

Whatever the case, the guitars themselves have already seen live action, with Mustaine using them extensively throughout Megadeth's recent Crush the World tour.

“I get handed my guitar each night by my guitar tech and I head out onto the stage to do my job,” he said. “Imagine my surprise when I was a few songs into our set and I realized I was not given my Gibson signature Flying V, I was given my new Kramer signature Flying V. The playing ability of this guitar is superb.”

These Vanguards – which have been wielded on stage by Mustaine – might be the first in a number of signature Kramer models to bear Mustaine’s name, after the heavy metal heavyweight teased the existence of a Super Strat-style Kramer late last year.

In that same post, Mustaine seemingly confirmed an upcoming Explorer signature guitar, so brace yourselves for even more signature models in the coming months.

For more information, head over to Epiphone and Kramer.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.