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ESP unveils the James Hetfield Snakebyte Camo

LTD James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte Camo
(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

“I hunt, therefore I am,” sang James Alan Hetfield on Of Wolf And Man, the riff-heavy doozy from Metallica’s multi-platinum Black Album. And while Papa Het was in character, channelling the id of a wolf stalking some poor doomed moose across the north face of a mountain, his love of hunting things in the real world informs his latest signature guitar to surface from ESP/LTD, the Snakebyte Camo.

Loosely drawn from the Gibson Explorer template, sharpened and modernised strategically, the Snakebyte Camo’s shape is by now familiar. But this finish is something new, bespoke even, and was inspired by Hetfield’s favourite high-performance hunting gear manufacturer KUIU. 

Interview

We can’t guarantee that taking this guitar along to hunt grouse on the Glorious Twelfth will be a good idea or not, but it sure looks mean, echoing similar urban camo signature instruments that ESP has designed for the likes of Max Cavalera and the late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman. 

And it is certainly an electric guitar that’s spec’d for extreme sounds. Unveiled as part of the Phase 1 mega product launch, which sees a whopping 43 instruments unveiled today via the ESP website, the Snakebyte Camo has a solid mahogany body with a thin U-profile mahogany set neck, and an ebony fingerboard seating 22 extra-jumbo frets. 

Its TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece offers a no-nonsense platform for ferocious downpicking, while Hetfield’s signature EMG active humbuckers delivers the firepower. Just be sure to run it through something high-gain and monstrous when it ships in May. 

While prices are TBC, a portion of the proceeds will go to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation, which supports a range of local and national charities across the US, tackling issues such as hunger and workforce education.

“The Snakebyte Camo is based on a very specific camouflage finish that James had us implement for one of his ESP Custom Shop guitars,” said Matt Masciandaro, president and CEO of the ESP Guitar Company. “Many Metallica fans have already seen James playing his Snakebyte Camo during concerts and festival appearances. We’re happy to make this great guitar available to the public, and be able to contribute to a very worthy cause.”

The Snakebyte Camo is available in LTD and ESP Custom Shop versions. ESP’s epic 2022 Phase 1 product launch, which introduces comprehensive updates to the LTD 1000 Deluxe and 200 Series, with four new Arrow models, seven EC models and a range of new features for the LTD EX, F, H, M, MH, Phoenix, SN- TE and Viper series. 

ESP is announcing these models now (6pm UK time) via video presentation at ESP Guitars, and repeating the presentation at 10pm UK time. The Phase 1 models will be available from dealers across the globe in May. For more details, head over to ESP Guitars.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.