Animals As Leaders guitarist Javier Reyes introduces his new, surprisingly traditional-looking ESP LTD JRV-8 signature model

Javier Reyes
(Image credit: ESP / YouTube)

NAMM 2023: It's great to see a signature artist giving the lowdown on a new model themselves, and Javier Reyes's new eight-string signature ESP LTD JRV-8 deserves the treatment. It's certainly pricey for an LTD at $2,499 but Javier thinks it's one of the most versatile electric guitars on the market.

The Metallic Gold model was inspired by ESP's Vintage Plus series and is a refreshingly traditional approach to an extended-range guitar. The finish, gold hardware and maple neck certainly don't scream 'metal'.

"I prefer having a more traditional type of guitar," says Javier who plays guitar alongside Tosin Abasi and drummer Matt Garska in instrumental progressive trio Animals As Leaders and has his own Mestis project. "So between the gold hardware and abalone inlays, everything about this guitar stands out to me."

Tonally it's as diverse as AAL's music and Javier's creative mind demand. His signature bridge Open Core Fluence humbucker features alongside two new custom Fishman fluence neck and middle single-coil pickups. "To me the single-coil sounds and represents this traditional guitar sound," explains Javier on the decision to go with an HSS combination. "When we think of our favourite classic rock tunes or '80s rock tunes, a lot of that stuff was done of single coils. So I tend to be inspired by some of these guitar tones and licks that were written with single coils. So I wanted to have that, or have access to that when it was time to write.

ESP LTF JRV-8 Javier Reyes signature model

(Image credit: ESP)

"So for me having that [pickup configuration] is the best of both worlds," he adds. "Where I still have access to that single-coil, very chimey, very transparent sort of sound; whether it's distorted tones or cleans, and still have my heavy modern metal sound with the humbucker."

The JRV-8 offers a five-way switch with two voices per Fishman pickups. The neck here is bolt-on five-piece maple and walnut with a 27" baritone scale. The guitar features a double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo and alder body. 

Find out more at ESP Guitars

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.