Growing up as a Metallica fan in my teenage years, I have come to appreciate Kirk Hammet’s playing style and since then I wanted to shred along one of his epic solos in his gear, specifically his signature ESP KH guitars. However, they cost a fortune and even now that I have a good job I cannot justify spending that much money on a single guitar.
To my rescue came the ESP LTD KH-202, while not as refined as the premium model, it is still a Kirk Hammet signature. It is designed throughout from Kirk Hammet and there is simply no better feeling knowing that your childhood hero has laid its touch onto it. This guitar has a great vibe, style, and playability, let’s dive deeper and see what this guitar offers. The best part is that its an electric guitar under $500.
As a first impression, I couldn’t differentiate the ESP LTD KH-202 from the premium signature KH models. It looks very simple, it has no decoration or flash to it. It looks like a plain black super Strat, however, it justifies itself as a signature model with its reverse headstock and iconic skull and crossbones inlays that Hammet has on each of his guitars.
The ESP LTD KH-202 uses solid basswood as a tonewood with a glossy black finish that I simply cannot take my eyes of it.
The maple neck is bolt-on to the body and is very sturdy, in addition to that it has a thin U-shape to ensure smooth playability and super-fast shredding that heavy metal fans will love. On top of that, it has a roasted jatoba fretboard with 24 extra-jumbo frets that allow for superstring bending.
This guitar is not the lightest in the market but it doesn’t feel heavy, it feels substantial and of high-quality and provides much-needed comfort and playability. It is very appropriate for gigs.
The ESP LTD KH-202 is designed for the lead guitarist and it features special components to provide such as the Floyd Rose Special Tremolo with a locking nut. This layout allows for extreme bending and divebombing as you please without ruining your perfect tuning.
When it comes to electronics the ESP LTD KH-202 is equipped with a set of ESP LH-301 humbuckers that are positioned at the bridge and at the neck, these provide plenty of high-output that is perfect for metalheads. To go along with that there are a good set of controls such as two volume knobs for each pickup, a master tone knob, and three-way pickup selector switch, very simple setup that is efficient and gets the job done.
When I first started playing this guitar, I went light, but this guitar wants to be played very hard indeed. On top of that, it provided extremely clean sound that is very satisfying and with a bit of warmth and naturality to it. I would most likely want to test this with a distortion pedal to see its limits but even without it this was very mighty and sharp with lengthy sustain.
A perfect guitar for Kirk Hammet fans that is extremely affordable in comparison to the premium models without compromising much.