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.
Unearth’s Buz McGrath always had some of the freaking coolest custom Ibanez models. So many of us screamed bloody heresy when he switched to ESP. It’s not that ESP guitars are bad or anything – c’mon, they’re amazing – it’s just that Buz’s ideas always worked so well with Ibanii. Would his ideas translate over to the ESP aesthetic? Well get a load of this:
Ooooh yeah. That’s the LTD Buz-7 right there, my friend. I especially like the subtly angled trem cavity (it’s really like that, yeah? It’s not an optical illusion?), the black bound maple fretboard, the Snow White Sunburst finish and the reverse headstock. Other features: neck-through-body construction, maple neck, alder body, 25.5″ scale, Xtra Thin Flat neck contour, 24 extra jumbo frets, EMG 707 active pickups, Grover tuners, Floyd Rose 1000 series bridge. More info here.
Lots of cool stuff coming from ESP in 2012, including an entirely new Kirk Hammett signature model shape, ditto for Slayer’s Jeff Hannemann, a Michael Wilton (Queensryche) acoustic, killer sigs for Suicide Silence, Whitechapel and Unearth, and some wild new finishes.
Here are some highlights from ESPguitars.com:
Nearly everyone in the entire band Whitechapel got new LTD Signature Series models for 2012. The LTD AW-7 (Alex Wade) is a 7-string model based on the M Series, with a neck-thru-body design, alder body with flamed maple top with a Blood Red Sunburst finish. The guitar also features DiMarzio pickups and a fixed bridge with string-thru-body and locking tuners. The LTD BS-7 (Ben Savage) is a 7-string custom version of the MH Series guitar, with a neck-thru-body design, a See Thru Black finish on an alder body with flamed maple top, a teardrop-shaped headstock, maple fingerboard, EMG active pickups, Floyd Rose bridge, and locking tuners. Zach Householderʼs new signature model, the LTD ZH-7, is also a 7-string guitar based on the MH Series. It features a mahogany body with quilted maple top with a See Thru Black Satin finish, large block inlays, EMG active pickups, a Tonepros bridge, and locking tuners. Bassist Gabe Crisp also gets a signature model with the LTD GC-4, a customized Viper bass with neck-thru body design, a mahogany brown finish, ebony fingerboard and an EMG pickup set.
New Kirk Hammett models
Celebrating his 25th year as an ESP player, Metallicaʼs Kirk Hammett has three new models for you. The ESP KH-DC and LTD KH-DC are a brand new double-cutaway body style based on the Eclipse/EC, with a set neck design at 24.75” scale, and an attractive STBC (See Thru Black Cherry) finish on its flamed maple top. Like other EC models, the guitar offers a mahogany body and mahogany neck, with a rosewood fingerboard. The KH-DC features gold hardware, including gold-covered EMG 81 (bridge) and EMG 60 (neck) active pickups, and a Tonepros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece. The ESP version of the new Kirk Hammett model includes Sperzel locking tuners, while the LTD version offers ESP locking tuners.
The limited-edition LTD KH-25 has black distressed finish and graphics designed to emulate Kirkʼs famous KH-2 Vintage model. The KH-25 has bolt-on construction at 25.5″ scale, with a basswood body, maple neck, and a Floyd Rose Special bridge. The guitar also features ESPʼs new ALH-200 active pickups.