ESP Responds To CITES Amendments

ESP Guitars has announced its plans for moving toward sustainable materials in guitar/bass design and manufacturing in response to the changes to CITES regulations, and while their various manufacturing facilities gradually begin the switch to new materials, they are far enough along in the process that they have made their first public statement about the new materials to be used, on a series-by-series basis.

Here’s the statement.

ESP Guitars has always been a company who takes seriously our responsibility as a manufacturer of wood-based instruments. With the most recent amendments to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), all instrument manufacturers face increased scrutiny to ensure that the raw materials used in their products meet the requirements as designated under this international treaty.

Particular to the current version of CITES is the use of the wood genus Dalbergia, with several species known commonly as rosewood, which has been overexploited in the wild. To remain compliant with CITES, ESP has researched a number of replacement materials for use in some of our products’ fingerboards. Note that in some cases, the replacement materials are a running change via our various manufacturing facilities, and as stock is depleted on earlier versions, the use of new materials will go into effect.

LTD “200 SERIES” & “400 SERIES” INSTRUMENTS
Moving ahead, fingerboards on this series of instruments will use jatoba to replace rosewood. Jatoba is a wood found in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America that is commonly called “Brazilian cherry” due to its appearance. Some of the current 200 Series instruments have replaced rosewood with Blackwood, an engineered wood made from sustainable pine. Both materials have been tested by ESP’s specialists for tone and aesthetic appearance, and meet all of our standards for high-quality instruments.

LTD DELUXE “1000 SERIES” and LTD SIGNATURE “600 SERIES” INSTRUMENTS
ESP is making two changes to these instrument series. First, most of the guitars in these series formerly offered with rosewood fingerboards will soon be manufactured with Pau Ferro. While Pau Ferro is colloquially referred to as Bolivian rosewood, it is not actually part of the rosewood genus that is restricted via CITIES regulations, and is an excellent, high-quality substitute for rosewood on guitar and bass fingerboards. Second, on certain models that had been previously offered with rosewood fingerboards, we are making a design change to offer them with Macassar ebony. We are also changing current models in these series being offered with African ebony to using Macassar ebony instead. This is a wood native to Indonesia, and is much less vulnerable than true Rosewood or African ebony as a sustainable material.

LTD ACOUSTIC GUITARS (AVAILABLE ONLY OUTSIDE THE USA)
For all LTD acoustic models that previous used rosewood for fingerboards and bridges, the guitars have been manufactured since January 2017 using Blackwood, and beginning in July we have started to produce them with jatoba as described above. Any model that previously used rosewood for its back and/or sides will now make use of black walnut.

LTD “10 SERIES” INSTRUMENTS
For our instruments designed for beginning musicians and to be made available at the lowest possible cost, the fingerboards of LTD 10 Series has been switched to a manufactured wood material that will act as an acceptable rosewood substitute. This is a running change that is still in progress, and we will announce the specific material at the earliest opportunity.

We are sure that you share ESP’s commitment toward staying in compliance with the current CITES regulations, as well as our enthusiasm for helping to conserve these important natural resources for the planet.

Gus G Leaves ESP For Jackson

Gus G Jackson

Photo by Tim Tronckoe

Didn’t see that one coming! Gus G has left ESP and hooked up with Jackson, making him the first Ozzy guitarist since Randy Rhoads to be a Jackson player. Nice. And Gus says he’ll continue to use his Seymour Duncan Gus G Blackouts, which are killer pickups. Here’s the press release.

Click here to buy Jackson guitars
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Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher Switches To ESP

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Whoa, didn’t see this one coming. Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher’s Gibson signature models have been some of the coolest guitars Gibson has released in years, but now Bill has switched to ESP with two new sigs, the ESP Bill Kelliher and the LTD BK-600. ESP writes; “We’re proud to announce that Bill Kelliher of world-renowned American metal band Mastodon has joined our family of endorsed artists. But equally big news is that we’re also announcing the introduction of two new Signature Series models: the ESP Bill Kelliher and the LTD BK-600. Visitors to our booth at the Summer NAMM Show in Nashville later this month will be able to check out Bill’s new signature guitars in person. They will be available at ESP dealers later this year.” Read More …

INTERVIEW: Unearth’s Buz McGrath

Unearth

Unearth have been slogging it out on the metal scene for 15 years now and have proven themselves to be real stayers, helping to remind folks that seven-string guitars can be used for more than just open-string chugging and showing that you can combine the punishing groove of Pantera with the melodic sense of Sweden’s Gothenberg sound and the power of traditional metal, all filtered through an aggressive metalcore lens. New album Watchers of Rule (3Wise) is a consistently brutal chunk of metal by anyone’s standards. But this far into Unearth’s career, it’s almost exhilarating to hear them continuing to release vital albums full of songs that are destined to live on in the setlist. I caught up with guitarist Buz McGrath right after the album’s release.

Want to win a copy of the album? Email iheartguitarblog@gmail.com with ‘Unearth’ in the subject line and I’ll draw five winners! Australia only.

Let’s start with the guitar stuff. What did you use on this album?

We used a Rhodes amp. I don’t know what it is. And I think we used one of Ken’s old custom Ibanez RGs that won the shoot-out. Usually what happens is we go through a stack of about 15 guitars and we record the same piece of music, the same riff, with each guitar, and you go through and listen to which guitar is sounding the best with what you’ve got, and that one won. It was between that one and, Ken had a custom three-pickup Ibanez Iceman with EMGs in it. That thing weighed a fucking tonne but it sounded sick. But the other one just beat it out by a little bit. We recorded with a Kemper via DI, and then [producer] Mark Lewis took it back to his studio and re-amped it through various amps, which I wasn’t a part of the process for. He would send me mixes with different amps and I’d say ‘this one sounds good.’ So I never even saw the amp. It’s a real weird way of doing it but it worked out good. Read More …

SPONSORED POST: YourInstrument.com

As you guys know, I’m a huge guitar geek and my tastes range from pointy, neon-coloured shred axes with Floyd Roses to classic semi-hollowbodies with Bigbsy vibratos. So when the fine folks at YourInstrument.com asked me to write a sponsored post, I thought the perfect thing to do would be to have a look around at the wide variety of instruments for sale. Because a) it’d be a great way to show the diversity of instruments that folks like you and I are using the site to buy/sell, and b) because nothing is more fun than looking at electric guitars for sale, except for playing them. So let’s see what’s there this week. And you can always keep up with what’s online at this very moment by checking out the site.

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PRS SE Mikael Akerfeldt
This is the signature model for the Opeth frontman. It’s one of the first SE models to include old-school bird inlays, and it rocks 24 jumbo frets, PRS designed tremolo bridge, SE HFS and SE Vintage Bass pickups, volume and tone control with a 3-way toggle switch. You can see Mikael playing these on the road. Read More …

INTERVIEW: Testament’s Alex Skolnick

Alex SkolnickAlex Skolnick is one of metal’s great enigmas: he’s ridiculously intelligent, well-read and well-spoken, and he’s a virtuoso of jazz guitar, yet he also plays in Testament, one of the most brutal bands ever to pick up instruments and dish out thrash metal power. There are many who feel that the name ‘Testament’ should be spoken in the same breath as ‘Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax,’ thrash’s ‘Big Four,’ but Testament is about much more than thrash, always pushing their sound onward and into genres such as death metal and extreme metal. Skolnick’s lead guitar is a key ingredient of the classic Testament sound, veering from traditional metal aggression to fusion-influenced intricacy and back again, often within a single phrase. With Testament heading to Australia for the Soundwave festival in February and March (and with a new DVD, Dark Roots Of Thrash, out now), I caught up with Skolnick for a chat about what he’s been up to. Read More …