Metallica have been some of the most loyal artists on the ESP roster, having used the guitars for well over 20 years. As such, both Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield have had a slew of signature models over the years ranging from full scale, mass produced models to limited run, exclusive collector editions. ESP sent the Guitar Interactive team the latest signature models to check out – the KH-WZ Kirk Hammett and the James Hetfield Iron Cross Ltd model. These two guitars are both in the mid to high price range, with high quality hardware and custom finishes that certainly stand out from the normal black designs you might have expected!
The guitar construction is pretty standard for the Metal and Rock genre with a solid alder body, 25.5” scale maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and bolt-on neck joint. The neck features a ‘Thin U’ shape contour, 24 extra jumbo frets, Floyd Rose bridge, locking nut and LTD tuners. The pickups are active EMGs, with an EMG60 in the neck and an EMG81 at the bridge, matched with a 3-way switch and standard volume and tone controls. The neck features very cool and intricate spider inlays with a large bat covering the 10th to 13th frets.
Overall, the design is very much in the superstrat vein but features softer horns and less aggressive look than some other companies have gone for of late and whilst it would certainly look out of place at a Jazz gig, it’s a design that is more widely appealing than other ‘Metal’ guitars. Completing the package is a superb, custom design case made by The Tombstone Case Company, although bear in mind that this appears to be specific to certain territories and may not be available everywhere.