INTERVIEW: Buz McGrath on his new LTD Buz-7 signature model

Massachusetts modern metal monsters Unearth are currently here in Australia for the Soundwave festival, and guitarist Buz McGrath is rocking a pretty unique guitar for the shows. Buz was a longtime Ibanez endorser with some of the coolest Ibanez LA Custom Shop guitars in the biz, but although he still has a soft spot in his heart for that company, he recently decided it was time for a change. That led him and his unique custom ideas to find a new home with ESP, who recently introduced the LTD Buz-7 (click here to preorder it from Bmusic). Black bound maple fretboard, Snow White Sunburst finish, reverse headstock, neck-through-body construction, maple neck, alder body, 25.5″ scale, extra thin flat neck contour, 24 extra jumbo frets, EMG 707 active pickups, Grover tuners, Floyd Rose 1000 series bridge… it’s one of the sexiest 7-strings ESP or LTD has ever produced. I managed to grab some time with Buz to ask him what the deal was.


You were an Ibanez guy for a million years. What happened?


It was about a year ago that I felt like I couldn’t really do much with them. They were very good to me the whole time I was there. They made me some amazing custom guitars. Mike Taft, he was awesome. he would give me whatever I asked for. But I just felt like I needed a change. Part of my motivation was a signature model – not that that should be the be all and end all of a company, but that was part of it, and I saw that with ESP I would at least have a chance to get to that point. Whereas Ibanez has so many great players in much bigger bands than me who don’t even have that on the horizon. I thought that if Oli Herbert from All That Remains doesn’t get one then I don’t think they’re going to give me one. Or Chris Broderick [Megadeth], who ended up leaving for Jackson.


But I love Ibanez guitars. They were always good to me, but ESP made some goals of mine happen, and that’s rad. Not to mention I was always a fan of those guitars too, so it was always an easy choice.


The new signature model is really cool. It reminds me of your old Ibanez silverburst custom.


I wanted to do something white but not just white. It’s actually a whiteburst. It looks silver, but it’s a little bit more white. Maple fretboard, which I think is a bit of a rarity on seven strings. I made it similar to the Ibanez S Series body. It is an ESP Horizon shape but I wanted to make it more thin and streamlined. That was always my motivation when I had a custom made. I wanted to make it like a Horizon because I love that body shape, but I wanted to make it super-thin, because ESP didn’t have anything like that. I thought it would be unique to not just take a body style and mix and match headstocks and options but to kind of make my own body style.


It has some really interesting features, like the tremolo rout which goes off at an angle. 


Yeah, it does it right on the edge of the Allen screws. That was something they did anyway. I saw that on one of my customs and I said “Can you make it like that?” Because that’s a nice little option. It looks kind of cool.


Have you gotten into the 8-string ESPs yet?


No. Y’know what, those 8-strings are standard scale, so I’m not going to mess with that. An 8-string’s got to be at least 27 inches. The Stef Carpenter 8-string is that, so I’m hopefully going to get one of those, but the regular LTD ones, I don’t know why they made them standard scale for 8-string. I have no idea why they would do that.


My guess is that it’s easier for kids who walk into music stores and pick one up to relate to it and not feel completely lost. So what pickups are you using? 


Just EMG 707s.


Are you much of a pedal guy?


I just use the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor and the Ibanez Tube Screamer.


And amps? 


The EVH 5150III.


Oh boy. I checked out the mini version at NAMM.


Yeah! I’m waiting for my guy to send me out one of those. I’m going to get one of those and, like, two 1X12s for my bedroom for one 12″ in one corner of the room and another one in the other one, and just riff out on them.