It has been five months since my last post and although I have been striving to get that solo under my belt to Metallica‘s ‘Enter Sandman’, it is still not quite there yet. In the meantime, to celebrate having reached three years of dedicated guitar practice and debut my relatively new ESP electric guitar, which replaces my Gibson, I have recorded a cover of Linkin Park‘s ‘New Divide’.
So, a new video and a new guitar. It has been a long and rather eventful five months since my last post and a lot has happened.
Whilst, I have indeed reached another milestone and am excited that I can celebrate having reached three years of dedicated guitar practice, it hasn’t all been exactly a smooth journey recently. My once-beloved Gibson Les Paul died before its time and whilst at the authorised Gibson dealer to be resurrected, apparently got further damaged resulting in the Gibson dealer simply calling me one day to announce that it had been refunded back to my bank account.
Shockingly, that wasn’t the first Gibson I had gone through in my pursuit of acquiring a genuine Gibson Les Paul, as the former acquisitions also experienced a few significant issues too, resulting in a brief succession of Gibson guitars exchanged and then ultimately refunded one after the other, somewhat destroying my dreams of owning this iconic Les Paul that I once heralded as my dream guitar. After receiving the phone call informing me that I would not be seeing it again, despite loving the immortal Les Paul shape, I finally decided to explore other options.
During this search, I discovered ESP guitars. I had known of them previously but never given them a real look and after exploring their range experienced a reaction reminiscent of an explorer who had just discovered that the world isn’t actually flat.
To my delight, I found a Les Paul-style guitar in their hand-built range, that featured a very similar overall shape and exactly the same layout of control knobs and selector switch, as a Les Paul. The specific model I was interested in, the ESP Eclipse-I CTM, was equivalent to the Les Paul Custom, in gloss black and with that iconic binding, albeit in ESP’s own unique style. It also featured the perfect combination of a mahogany body, maple top, mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard, as featured on a Les Paul Custom.
Further investigation revealed a good reputation for quality, and after all, if these babies are good enough for Metallica’s James Hetfield, then they are damn well good enough for my humble efforts. I was soon to discover as well, that their active EMG pickups [EMG-81 (Bridge), EMG-60 (Neck)] would take distortion to whole new levels of aggression, which somehow seemed comforting at the time!
The icing on the cake was awesome customer service by the UK Head Quarters for ESP, who very kindly also introduced me to Kepur straps, which finally solved my problem of wearing out strap-locks, and the complimentary ESP t-shirt they sent me just forever gave them a special place in my heart!
Note: Anyone reading this and concerned that these comments somehow represent professional sponsorship or commercial endorsement, should kindly check out my humble playing in the above video, then feel free to laugh very loudly to themselves! …all in good time though!
With the new metal-oriented axe, it appears I am even better equipped to finally pay tribute to Metallica with a more-complete version of their ‘Enter Sandman’, which was my first ever song on the guitar, but the current reality is that my attempts at the legendary Kirk Hammett solo are still not up to speed.
Despite that, as indicated by the above video, I gave myself a break and decided to learn another new song and chose Linkin Park’s ‘New Divide’, requiring some cool octave rhythm playing, though this definitely requires a subtley of touch that will hopefully improve with time.
So, here I am once again, still practicing regularly, still desperately needing to get sooo much better and ever-increasingly frustrated by the unacceptable level of my current ‘ability’. I use the term loosely.
Honestly though, I love playing more than I can describe and when things are going well I feel like the roar from my new metal-natured beast could rip a rift right through reality, opening up the gates of hell and ferociously slaying any demon that would dare stand in my way.
The flip side to having all that power from those devastatingly aggressive pickups, is that when I don’t get it right, the ESP really lets me know it, in a way that definitely does not require extra-sensory perception to discover how badly I am playing on such days.
In reality though, I am learning to adjust settings accordingly to taper off the volume on the guitar’s dials a bit and wield only so much power as my current skills can just about manage, though the temptation to crank up the volume is always there, and on the rare occasion I do get it right …oh my God!
Having clocked up three years now, the desire is always there to keep improving so I can try to get it right more often than not, but the reality is a fusion of enthusiastic adrenaline-fueled delirium and frustration. A lot of frustration. But I love playing and vow to get better, which is more essential than ever given the thunderously super-charged forces of nature that EMG call pickups.
One day though, I will learn to more masterfully harness their power and ride the lightning!
– Joel BB