ESP / LTD James Hetfield Snakebyte Signature Series Guitar

TTK takes a look at the new James Hetfield Snakebyte line on display at NAMM 2011. It has a modified Explorer shape, ebony fingerboard, a custom snake inlay at the 12th fret, an awesome TonePros locking bridge, Sperzel locking tuners, and EMG pickups.  The black one is the $3,500 ESP version, and there is a $999  LTD version as well. Be aware that the LTD version also comes in black. For some reason that doesn’t seem to be made obvious in much of what is floating around out there presently on the Snakebyte line.

Don’t think nostalgia when checking out the Snakebyte but, rather, a forward-looking design that points to the future. The headstock design is bold and aggressive, the body—which clearly alludes to Hetfield’s older Gibson Explorer body style—is a bit of an homage tip of the hat to James’ old fave but with a crisp new body design that has a more aggressive vibe about it built off of the old Explorers. It’s like having an Explorer on steroids, especially with those active EMG’s in it. This isn’t going to be for just anyone. You know who you are. The combination of EMG 81/EMG 60 active humbuckers produces powerful high output tone, chunky rhythm, and blisteringing solos.   

Set necks typically provide a warm tone and, depending on the quality of the dovetail joint, you will likely see an increase in sustain.   The Snakebyte is clearly an awesome guitar to consider upgrading to. A big TTK thumbs up to ESP on the new James Hetfield Snakebyte line. 

Here are most of the specs with a few observations:

  • Set-neck construction
  • 24-3/4″ scale
  • Mahogany body (yes, mahogany for under a grand!)
  • Mahogany neck
  • Ebony fretboard (If you have never felt an ebony fingerboard, it has a smooth and luxurious feel to it that you’ll notice if you’ve never played one before.)
  • Pearloid snake inlay (visually and aesthetically awesome!)
  • 42mm nut width
  • Thin-U neck contour
  • 22 XJ frets
  • Metal logo on headstock (the raised metal is a nice and noticeable touch)
  • Black hardware
  • Sperzel locking tuners
  • TonePros locking Tune-o-matic-style bridge/tailpiece

The next time you have the strings off of your guitar, hold your bridge between your thumb and index finger while it still rests on your guitar and wiggle it. If it moves, you are not getting optimum intonation and harmonics. The TonePros bridge sets like granite in your guitars body and makes it more alive and responsive with harmonics, not to mention vastly better intonation. TonePros bridges will be all that’s left in place after Armageddon.

  • EMG-81 active bridge humbucker ( the tone cuts like a knife with razor sharp attack and the noise level is quiet, crucial for high gain players—a great bridge pickup choice)
  • EMG-60 active neck humbucker (the perfect compliment to the 81)
  • Case included

The Snakebyte is a guitar for the future. Also, a big TTK tip of the hat on the quality components that went into this ESP design. ESP and Mr. Hetfield have a winner with the Snakebyte. Check out the Snakebyte in person if you can and see for yourself, you’ll be glad you did.

Watch a clip in HD 1080 from Winter NAMM 2011 :


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