ESP’s New Cult ’86 Is a Tribute to Vernon Reid’s Original Living Colour Guitar

(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

ESP Guitars has announced the LTD Cult ’86, a tribute to the guitar that helped put Vernon and Living Colour on the map.

The guitar will be presented at the 2017 NAMM show later this month.

In the early 1980s, ESP’s USA offices first opened its doors in New York City. At the time, ESP was a young and relatively unknown guitar manufacturer, and the company was looking to get the validation of impressive players who could help spread the word about ESP’s now-legendary quality and innovation in guitar making.

One such NY-based player was a local hero named Vernon Reid, who’d already made his mark performing with innovative jazz musicians like Ronald Shannon Jackson and Bill Frisell. Right around the time that Reid connected with ESP, he was also putting together his own band, which shortly became known as Living Colour.

For their debut album, Vivid, which became a double Platinum-selling recording with a lasting cultural impact, Reid was most closely identified with his ESP guitar that he’d customized in a swirling multi-colored finish.

The LTD Cult ’86 is a tribute to that guitar. Much like the original version, the Cult ’86 is based on the ST body style, and features the distinctive multiple swirls of color that immediately make it identifiable with its original designer. It features bolt-on construction with an alder body, a three-piece maple neck, and an ebony fingerboard. It uses a three-pickup configuration, with two EMG SA pickups in the neck and middle position, and an EMG 81 at the bridge. A Floyd Rose Special locking tremolo is provided to allow for the kind of uninhibited and expressive playing for which Reid is world renowned.

We’ve included a video of Living Colour performing their hit “Cult of Personality” on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1989 below.

More information on the Cult ’86 and all the 2017 model guitars and basses in the ESP, ESP-E-II, and LTD Series is available at

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Guitar World Staff

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