NAMM 2024: “It's heavy, thick, and unique. It feels great”: ESP brings Bill Kelliher’s long-awaited double-cut custom model to the masses with LTD Royal Shiva signature guitar

Bill Kelliher and ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva Silver Sunburst
(Image credit: Aldara Zarraoa/Redferns/Getty Images / ESP)

NAMM 2024: ESP has finally released Bill Kelliher’s latest long-awaited signature guitar in the form of the LTD Royal Shiva.

Early initial sightings of the double-cut Eclipse-style model can be traced back to 2021, when the Mastodon riffmeister gave fans a sneak peek of the wild silverburst-esque six-string during promo for his signature STL ToneHub plugin.

At the time, Kelliher confirmed a prototype of some sort was indeed in the works, and shared a few telling details: namely, it would be very, very heavy – up to 13 lbs, specifically.

It would seem the prototype Kelliher was playing around with – with its deep grooves and thick body ergonomics – eventually became a one-off ESP Custom Shop model purpose-built for the man himself, rather than for a wider ESP artist series release.

Speaking in an upcoming interview with Guitar World, Kelliher discussed how that original Royal Shiva was in fact inspired by his nine-string First Act Custom model, which he sent to ESP in order to have a dedicated six-string version built in 2020.

ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva Silver Sunburst

(Image credit: ESP)

“They basically made an exact copy of it, and I love it,” he revealed of his initial custom model. “It's heavy, thick, and unique. It feels great, and the neck is incredible. And it's heavy, but that's okay because the weight of a guitar is very important to me. The thicker, the better.”

Fast-forward to 2024, and the model has finally been given the wider release it deserves in the form of an LTD version, which is based on that very same ESP Custom Shop model.

That means it has the attention-grabbing double-cut Eclipse-style body, which is composed from mahogany with a maple cap. There’s been no official word on whether the LTD matches the sheer weight of its ESP counterpart, but one thing’s for sure: it certainly looks thick enough to meet the mark.

ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva Silver Sunburst

(Image credit: ESP)

“I like a guitar that feels solid,” Kelliher admitted in his upcoming GW interview. “I know I'm getting older, and running around the stage with such heavy guitars isn't great for my back and shoulders, but I like 'em heavy.”

As per the Mastodon maestro’s exacting specs, the 25”-scale LTD model also has a three-piece U-shaped mahogany neck, topped with a 12”-radius Macassar ebony fretboard adorned with large mother-of-pearl block inlays. 22 extra jumbo frets and a 43mm bone nut can also be found.

Another notable appointment can be found in the electronic department, which boasts Kelliher’s Mojotone Hell Bender pickups – a set of signature humbuckers that arrived this time last year, and lined up to be among the most versatile metal pickups on the market.

Bill Kelliher with his ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva Silver Sunburst

Bill Kelliher playing his ESP Custom Royal Shiva (Image credit: Aldara Zarraoa/Redferns/Getty Images)

These sonically versatile humbuckers are given extra flexibility thanks to an intuitive control layout that comprises push/pull volume and tone pots. That means both the neck and bridge humbuckers can be coil-split.

Finishing touches include LTD locking tuners, TonePros Locking TOM bridge and Tailpiece, and white body binding. It’s also worth giving that glorious Silver Sunburst finish – which spans the entire body and neck – another shoutout.

The Royal Shiva is available to preorder now for $1,999.

Head over to ESP to find out more.

For all things NAMM 2024, head over to our guide to the latest NAMM 2024 news.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.