Hands On With James Hetfield's ESP SnakeByte

Image (c) ESP Guitars Inc.

Over the years, Guitarist has been fortunate to get our grubby mitts on just about every ESP James Hetfield signature guitar that's been made available, often in strictly limited numbers, to the metal-loving public.

Sadly we missed out on the JH-1, a Flying-V resplendent with green flames, but we were successful in securing the JH-2, an Explorer topped with steel diamond plate, the vaguely Les Paul-shaped JH-3, Truckster and Iron Cross, and even The Grynch, a monstrous baritone.

But new for 2011 is probably our favourite Hetfield so far, the magnificent SnakeByte. We'll be featuring a huge review in the the September issue of Guitarist, which is on sale 31st August, so for now here's some documentation of our first few minutes with the LTD version.

Thanks to EMG's awesome Solderless Installation System, we'll be able to easily swap out the 81 and 60 humbuckers fitted as standard to the guitar and replace them with a brand new set of Hetfield's signature pickups. We'll compare and contrast, and see if there's any difference in tone (hint: there is...!).

Here's Hetfield smashing seven bells out of a black ESP Truckster and don't miss our SnakeByte review in the September issue.

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Guitarist magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.