George Lynch: ESP M1 Tiger

lynchm1Despite having monikers such as ‘Mr. Scary’ or ‘Furious George’ and a band named the ‘Lynch Mob’, George Lynch is a statesman for metal and hard rock guitar while being a pretty nice guy. His current and past bands include Dokken, xCiter, Lynch Mob, Souls of We, KXM and a multitude of projects that pit George against orchestral works, EDM, metal, pop and funk. His recordings have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide placing him as one of the most successful in the genre. Where some players perform on guitar like it was an Olympic sport, George uses tasteful phrasing, saving the burning for when it fits in the music. Take a listen to In My Dreams and soon one hears that George is helping the song but knows when to break out the full blown shred, like on Mr Scary. I think the thing I appreciate most is his absolutely brilliant vibrato (shaking a fretted note to “warble” the tone) and the sublime touch he has using the dynamics of picking and volume knob to create subtlety that is hard to match.

Lynch’s art

He is, far and away, my favorite player. I have his signature wah pedal, numerous guitar picks, instructional videos, magazines, and even a piece of the art he created with Corey at SceneFour in LA so one could say, and I admit, I am a fanboy. What I don’t have is one of his damn guitars, could never afford one though it’s on my bucket list. He has many guitars that will make their way to the Headstock Exchange but first, let’s talk about ESP, the company that made the M1 in the photo above and the maker of many of the guitars George plays.

Hisatake Shibuya opened a guitar parts shop named Electric Sound Products in 1975. His specialty? Fender and Fender-esque parts, bodies, necks and they were sought after. It was not long after this time that they also began crafting guitars under the ESP brand. Heavily favoring Fender designs, their Telecaster model attracted the eye of Ronnie Wood (still an endorser today) in 1983. ESP replacement parts were first introduced into the US that same year and ESP began crafting custom instruments for local New York artists between 1984 and ’85. Among these artists were Page Hamilton of Helmet; Bruce Kulick of Kiss, Vernon Reid of Living Color. Of great interest, however, is that ESP was making a lot of the worlds guitars at the same time. During 1980s, ESP began making the bodies and necks for Kramer, Schecter and Robin guitars as an OEM producer. Many traits of the Kramer line are still visible including neck construction and body bevels. ESP tooled up for Tom Anderson’s shaved bolt on neck heel on the Schecter bodies and this has since become a feature of their house brand. (credit wikipedia for some content)

George has the first ever ESP signature model

In 1985, George Lynch discovered ESP while on tour in Tokyo. Lynch walked into an ESP shop looking for a replacement neck and learned that ESP also built custom guitars. As a result, his famous ESP Kamikaze was made and ESP released George Lynch’s Kamikaze as its first signature model. ESP soon introduced the M1 Standard, MI Custom, Horizon Custom, and many other designs. I had an original KH-2, Kirk Hammett model that I bought in 1992. Great guitar. Anyway, the M1 tiger followed shortly after and was less about the show and more about the playing. This is George’s main guitar, this and ‘Haji’, his Snake and Serpents guitar. We’ll come back to that one in the future along with ‘Mom’.

The M1 Tiger is a soft maple body, wrapped in the tiger stripe finish that’s faded heavily and chipped all over. There’s a direct mounted pickup, initially a Seymour Duncan but now an Arcane Mr Scary humbucker in the bridge. The M1 George uses doesn’t have a neck pickup though the sunburst Tiger ESP sells today features an Arcane Desert Eagle single coil. George uses a single volume control, a la EVH with no tone control. The neck is made of hard rock maple with a rosewood fingerboard. Dunlop 6100 extra jumbo fret wire is George’s choice across the 305 mm (12 inch) radius surface. Gotoh tuners and an original Floyd Rose tremolo, recessed, with a 43 mm locking nut finish the guitar. A recessed tremolo sets into the body and direct mount sits on top. A recessed tremolo can raise pitch significantly, a top mount only a little, see the images:recessedtopmount

The left side has a recess so the bar can be pulled up. The right is top mount and has no measurable up pitch capabilities. That being said, down only Floyd tremolos stay in tune better (top mount are called down only) as the springs mounted can have more tension and the bridge can only drift flat, not sharp. George uses a string set 09-46 and a hybrid picking technique where he plucks many of the notes in a phrase. Always a purveyor of tone, George has played Marshall, Bogner, Soldano and Randall high gain tube amps and is known to mix in a Fender Twin or Bandmaster combo amps.

The Tiger and George in 2016

Lynch records and tours with the M1 and it has been on every album since 1987’s Back for the Attack, all Lynch Mob, George’s solo work, Souls of We and KXM. Though I am unable to verify, I certainly think the M1 is George’s favorite. What is it about this guitar that he keeps coming back to. Could be the perfect storm of wood, nickel and George? I don’t know but it’s good, very good. My favorite George is the aforementioned Mr. Scary (this version is a live shot recording and George improvises throughout while staying true to the original), It’s Not Love from the album Under Lock and Key (this is a desert island album for me) and for something new, I like Sanctuary off the latest Lynch Mob album Rebel, released in 2015. We will revisit George on my 25th and 50th posts but next up, an unlikely follow-up to George, Mr Chet Atkins and his love for Gretsch semi-hollow bodied guitars. Thanks for stopping by.

KSK February 2017

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