Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has some seriously cool signature guitars in the current ESP and LTD lineup, variations on his classic S-style available at all price points, not to mention the KH-3 – the ‘Spider’ singlecut that defined The Black Album era. But there was something missing.
Kirk Hammett needed a V-style, and now he has one. Meet the LTD KH-V. Hammett has had signature Vs before, most notably from the Gibson Custom Shop, but the KH-V conforms the ESP/LTD design aesthetic, and that means the headstock is sharper, the angles more aggressive, with an asymmetric body profile making for an aerodynamic electric guitar in the shape of an arrowhead.
It is not that far removed from, say, the signature ESP/LTD V-styles that we have seen for the late Alexi Laiho, but there’s a classicism to Hammett’s design that strikes the right note between the modern and super aggressive and the vintage.
The LTD KH-V marks over three decades of Hammett an ESP artist but he admitted that it still gave him goosebumps when he saw it for the first time.
“It was like the perfect hybrid of reality and my vision,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful guitar. I strapped it on and played it later that day; just jamming out with friends for four or five hours. It’s an amazing, amazing guitar.”
The KH-V is available in Black Sparkle, Red Sparkle, and Metallic Gold, with gold hardware on the latter two finish options, black on the former. It looks the bee’s knees.
It should sound good too, with a pair of Hammett’s signature EMG Bone Breaker humbuckers at the neck and bridge positions, seated in a body of solid korina with a full-length neck-through build.
The three-piece maple neck is carved into ESP/LTD’s preferred profile – i.e. a Thin U with off-the-charts speed – and it is topped with a Macassar ebony fingerboard. There are 24 extra-jumbo frets, curved pearloid wave inlays, reflecting the Hawaii resident and keen surfer’s affinity with oceanic swell.
The KH-V has a longer scale than the Flying V’s in Hammett’s collection. At 25.5”, that’ll give it quite a different feel. ESP/LTD hasn’t actually shared the fingerboard radius just yet but you can bet good money it will be the 350mm of the other models in the range.
Other features include the string-through Tonepros bridge, LTD locking tuners, and this is quite the high-end electric guitar so we are pleased to see the price includes a deluxe hardshell guitar case.
Speaking of which, the LTD Kirk Hammett Signature KH-V will set you back £2,063 / €2,260. You’ve got a few months to save for it because it should arrive in your local guitar store come June. For more details, see ESP Guitars.