If nothing else, NAMM is worthwhile just to take a gander at sweet limited edition guitars. For instance, these new offerings from ESP.
The first is a celebration of Metallica’s seminal Ride the Lightning, released three decades ago to the date this Sunday. It features the iconic album cover over an alder body, maple neck, and ebony fretboard, on a 25.5″ scale. The pickups are an EMG 81 in the bridge and 85 in the neck. I have no idea if those are actually the pickups used on the record, but it’s certainly possible, as they were released in 1979. I know that somewhere on the internet there are scans of Ride the Lightning engineer Flemming Rasmussen’s recording notes, but I’ll be damned if I can find the right phrase that will coax Google into presenting them to me. But I did track down this interview in Ultimate Guitar, which states that the guitars were tracked with an SM57 45 degrees off axis, and a room mic, so you’ll have to settle for that nugget of info.
Also in the spirit of commemoration is a new Jeff Hanneman 2014 Urban Camo guitar, to celebrate the life of the Slayer guitarist who sadly left us last year. It makes available to the LTD line a custom finish that was heretofore only available on the higher end ESP signature model. Like the Lightning guitar, the JH Tribute is an alder/maple/ebony combo with EMG 81/85s for pickups. Yet unlike the Metallica guitar, a portion of the Hanneman proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, one of Jeff’s charities of choice.
“Jeff Hanneman and Slayer helped define the entire genre of thrash metal guitar,” says Matt Masciandaro, President and CEO of the ESP Guitar Company. “He was a good friend to many of us at ESP, and his passing last year was a shock to us all. For his family and for Slayer fans around the world, we felt that commemorating his contributions to music and supporting the Wounded Warrior Project via this new model was an appropriate measure.”
My Gear Gods partner-in-crime Trey Xavier snapped a few photos of these beauties on the NAMM show floor, so give them a look:
Only 300 Ride the Lightning guitars will be manufactured, and the Jeff Hanneman tribute is limited to just 100. You can get more info at ESP’s website.