LTD K-500 Kelly Hayes review by ESP

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (2 votes)
ESP: LTD K-500 Kelly Hayes

Price paid: $ 800

Purchased from: private collection

Sound — 9
I play primarily metal so this is a dream for me, not only is it unique and dark looking.. It just seems to be built the right way. Hard to describe but it just feels right in your hands. Pride of ownership perhaps? If you want a rare, somewhat collectable piece to play with this is your baby.. Easily compete against guitars <$1350... And that tone.. Again fantastic! Great tonal qualities, played in drop c/d and 1/2 turn down on e. Clean pickups, clean tone however has the natural capacity to play deep dark rythym.. abosolutely fantastic. Passive EMG's are equipped but planning on having EMG 85 / 81's which is an easy upgrade without damaging the guitar or having to make additional holes.. battery fits in the wiring compartment fine.

Overall Impression — 10
Some Other guitars: ex-400, dkmg, les paul hybrid. As above, if you can find one of these BUY IT. In discussing with Guitar reps <LTD/ESP etc> the deal from my information gathered only is that these were made under sponsorship for a band called Cold... approximately 650 guitars were made and the sponsorship got pulled which made it a limited run. Does this make it collectable? Sort of.. it is rare however band did not do well which made it not largely sought out as the band sort of died.. so what you have is a unique guitar made by LTD under ESP which is hard to find. LTD/ESP seems somewhat recluctant to release exact run numbers as they said "they do not want to create a perception that it is colectable when it was not really"... "however the limited run does make it collectable as it is rare" In the end its your call. Similar guitars can be purchased for 599-800 new - ex ec-500.. But it will not be this. Highly recommend! don't be a lemming:)

Reliability & Durability — 9
Strap buttons are solid however I replaced with lockers, as with all ESP ltd in this era they tended to be a bit neck heavy and can dive bomb if left hanging. Solution: Grip Strap for playing live, realign front peg or just hold onto your guitar.. Really its not that big of a deal.. If you are running around not holding your guitar anyway you deserve to drop it:) Finish is flawless.. Appears to be 3-5 coats of satin.. I am basing my assumption on my knowledge of painting guitars.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Purchased used so cannot comment on original set up. Everything was set up prefectly when I received it. I had noticed that the fretboard was overly dry which I found strange coming from a private collection but a little bit of Dunlop Ultimate lemon oil solved the dryness.

Features — 10
Construction: Set neck Scale: 25.5" Body: Mahogany Neck/Fretboard: 3-pc. maple/ebony Inlays: Cold spiders w/name at 12th Fret Pickups: EMG-HZ H-4 Electronics: Volume, tone, 3-way toggle Hardware: Black Bridge: TonePros locking w/string-thru-body Binding: None Frets: 24 XJ FINISHES: Black Satin Damn Sexy guitar is all I can say Comes with optional case at new/ 300.00 option Spider Inlays in fretboard limited run -500-700 made only - do your own DD for verification

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    had the opportunity to play one of these recently, Great guitar. The picture above is incorrect though, it is a black satin guitar and does not have a spider accross the body, that is a different model by ESP Anyone have one for sale ?
    Deer is correct, the guitar pictured is the ESP kelly hayes model. the k-500 is the LTD version of the kelly hayes, and is all black satin, no spider. I have one (Actually had it twice. sold it on ebay, bought it back 2 years later because i missed it so much). I replaced the EMG-HZ's for EMG 81 in the bridge, disconnected the neck so the toggle acts as a cut-off switch. This thing is by far my favorite guitar, just feels right, and the sound is perfect for metal, especially with the 81 at the bridge. The HZ's were a little muddy.