A Hardcore Thrashing: Max Cavalera’s ESP EX Guitar

Max Cavalera ESP EX Guitar

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Max Cavalera ESP EX Guitar
The ESP EX With Urban Camouflage

Max Cavalera, metalist-thrasher, guitarist and founder of such influential bands as Sepultura, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, always packs a powerful punch when it comes to his playing.

During the last ten years or so, Cavalera has often used an ESP as his main axe. In 2011, Cavalera and ESP guitars teamed up to create the EX, which is only one model in the artist’s assorted signature series collection with the company.

The ESP EX includes all 6 strings

As a musician who has mastered an array of instruments, including the Brazilian berimbau and the sitar, Max Cavalera has gained a reputation as an eccentric artist, perhaps due to his fondness for removing the two highest strings on a variety of electric guitars.

The ESP website explains, “As many fans have pointed out to us over the years, Max tends to only make use of the bottom four strings on his guitars, saying that the high B and E strings just get in the way for his style of thrash playing.”

Similar to Max Cavalera, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has been spotted from time to time in his legendary career with electrics that were missing their lowest bass E strings. For retail purchasers of the EX, ESP sells the instrument with all six strings in place. Anyone wanting to authenticate the distinctive Cavalera sound will have to remove the B and top E strings.

Specs on the EX

The militaristic black, white and grey of the EX’s Urban Camouflage finish conveys a contemporary character of power and might, perhaps a reaction to, or maybe a reflection of, recent events around the globe.

There’s no messing around with the solid mahogany Explorer shaped body that sports black nickel hardware, Gotoh tuners and a set maple neck, 24.75″ with a rosewood fingerboard and 22 extra jumbo frets; white symbol inlays, up to the 9th fret, change to x markers at the 12th and above. At the top of the neck is a 42mm bone nut and at the other end a Tonepros locking bridge and tailpiece.

Max Cavalera ESP EX Guitar
Set Maple Neck, Rosewood Fingerboard, 22 Extra Jumbo Frets

The neck on Cavalera’s ESP EX boasts a thin U contour shape that provides added hand comfort and extended range. A single Seymour Duncan Distortion pick-up provides fierce fuel for even the most meager player.

Pricing and options

Max Cavalera’s signature ESP EX sells for around $2,400, although there is an option for players who find this price tag out of their spending range; ESP LTD Max – 200 Cavalera Signature guitar priced at about $500. Unfortunately, the specs are no match for the EX, starting with its bolt-on neck, basswood body, two LH-150 humbucker pick-ups (instead of the Seymour Duncan Distortion) and the solid snow white finish. Like everything else, you’ll get what you pay for.

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Paul Wolfle

As a vintage and contemporary music enthusiast, guitars dominate Paul’s life. He plays slide in open tunings on a National Steel Tricone resonator and electric blues, in standard tuning, on an assortment of other instruments including his white Fender Stratocaster.

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