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ESP's 30th Anniversary KH-3 Spider is a Metallica fan's dream come true

LTD KH-3 Spider
(Image credit: ESP)

GEAR 2021: It was the question on every guitar player's lips after catching Metallica on the Wherever We May Roam tour circa '91: what was that singlecut electric guitar that Kirk Hammett was playing during Enter Sandman?

This, being the pre-internet era, was a question that was later answered by guitar mags, and said guitar, the ESP KH-3 Spider, attained an almost mythical status as one of the world's precious few singlecuts with a double-locking Floyd Rose and active EMG pickups – and definitely the only one with Spider inlay and a graphic on the upper bout as drawn by Metallica's go-to illustrator, Pushead.

After three decades, with the original KH-3 resting in place at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ESP is bringing the KH-3 Spider back. The 30th Anniversary KH-3 will be released as an LTD and an ESP model, the latter handcrafted in Japan.

  • NAMM 2021 is cancelled, but we'll be covering all the big January gear announcements right here on MusicRadar.

Spec-wise, the pickups have been updated, with Hammett's signature EMG BoneBreaker humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions. These are controlled by two volume controls and a master tone dial, with a three-way pickup selector switch.

The neck-through build sees a solid alder body paired with three-piece maple neck and Macassar ebony fingerboard. We are glad to report that the fingerboard remains a nightmare for arachnophobes, has 24 extra-jumbo frets, and is scalloped beyond the 17th fret for maximum shred.

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LTD KH-3 Spider

(Image credit: ESP )
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LTD KH-3 Spider

(Image credit: ESP )
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ESP KH-3 Spider

(Image credit: ESP)

The LTD KH-3 Spider is equipped with a Floyd Rose 1000 double-locking vibrato, Grover tuners, and of course there's that big ol' Pushead Spider graphic, which is sure to administer a Proustian rush for Metallica fans of a certain vintage when the case is opened. And upon stepping on a wah pedal

As for the ESP KH-3 Spider, it has a Floyd Rose Original vibrato, but much of the fundamental spec – the Gibson-esque 24.75" scale length, Extra Thin U profile neck – is shared across both instruments.

The LTD KH-3 should be available February, price TBC. See ESP for more details.

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.