NAMM 2023: ESP launches long-awaited Kirk Hammett LTD KH-V signature models

ESP LTD KH-V
(Image credit: ESP)

NAMM 2023: Last summer, ESP made waves at NAMM by giving guitar fans a glimpse of an upcoming LTD Kirk Hammett signature guitar – the KH-V, which was inspired by the Metallica maestro’s exclusive custom shop ESP V electric guitar.

Nine months after confirming the six-string was in the works, ESP has now officially introduced three KH-V models, which have arrived in Black Sparkle, Red Sparkle and Metallic Gold colorways.

As many noted back in June last year, these three uniquely finished LTD KH-Vs are based on a trio of ESP custom shop models that Hammett had built back in 2019 – dubbed the ESP USA V-1 – and look to be near-enough like-for-like recreations of those high-end instruments.

ESP LTD KH-V

ESP LTD KH-V in Metallic Gold (Image credit: ESP)

Aesthetics aside – each finish matches up to an ESP custom shop counterpart – the LTD KH-V nods to Hammett's ESP USA V-1 with its slightly offset V body, which is similar to that of the standard-run ESP USA V-II.

Build-wise, the 25.5” scale LTD KH-V is confirmed to have a korina body and three-piece extra-thin U-shaped maple neck, as well as a Macassar ebony fingerboard that’s adorned with 24 extra-jumbo frets.

Flashing a neck-thru-body construction, the guitar also comes fitted with a TonePros bridge and LTD locking tuners, with a set of Hammett’s signature EMG Bone Breaker pickups lining up alongside volume and tone knobs, and a three-way selector switch.

ESP LTD KH-V

ESP LTD KH-V in Black Sparkle (Image credit: ESP)

Other notable appointments include color-matched headstocks and shark tooth-style inlays – all of which could be found on Hammett’s flagship ESP custom shop V. In fact, aside from the LTD logo on the headstock, these look to be identical visual replicas of those ultra-boutique models.

“I actually got goosebumps when I saw the KH-V for the first time,” says Hammett. “It was like the perfect hybrid of reality and my vision. It’s such a beautiful guitar. I strapped it on and played it later that day; just jamming out with friends for four or five hours. It’s an amazing, amazing guitar.”

ESP LTD KH-V

ESP LTD KH-V in Red Sparkle (Image credit: ESP)

ESP president and CEO Matt Masciandaro adds, “For over three decades, ESP has been honored to create the guitars Kirk Hammett uses as an integral part of Metallica’s sound. The KH-V is yet another distinctive guitar that Kirk will use to further Metallica’s legacy.”

The KH-V will be available later this month – with a deluxe ESP hardshell case included – for $1,799.  

Visit ESP Guitars for more information.

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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.