The ESP LTD SH-7 Brian HEAD Welch Signature Guitar

July 1, 2023
Signature Guitars
brian head welch signature guitar-Feature Image of Artist playing live and image of full guitar front and back
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The ESP LTD SH-7 Brian “HEAD” Welch Signature Guitar

Who Is ESP?

In 1975, Hisatake Shibuya opened a new musical instrument shop called Electric Sound Products/ESP in Tokyo, Japan, making custom replacement parts for guitars and basses in a small allocated space within the building.

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of ESP company Logo

ESP Guitar Company Logo- Image courtesy of Wikimedia and is in the public domain

Over 4 decades later, ESP has grown into a Guitar/Bass manufacturer, making Custom Shop, Signature and Standard Models in more than 100 countries, and has been recognized for its continued high standards in quality and craftsmanship.

Breaking Into The US Guitar Market

ESP replacement parts were first introduced in the US in 1983 for the local New York Music scene, along with their first 400 Series guitars between 1984/85, grabbing the attention of players like…

  • Vinne Vincent (KISS/Solo Artist)
  • Bruce Kulick (KISS) & 
  • Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones)

Brand Support

The company went on to make bodies and necks for other guitar manufacturers like Kramer & Schecter, providing brand support, with ESP-inspired shaved bolt-on-neck heels on the Schecter bodies, still being featured presently.

First Signature Guitar

While on tour in Tokyo (1985) with his band Dokken, George Lynch was looking for a replacement neck and went to see ESP, resulting in the company producing its First Signature Kamikaze model for the famed guitarist with Screamin’ Demon/ESP SH-120 single coil pickups, Floyd Rose Bridge and more.

With the success of this venture, the company discontinued its replacement parts division and expanded its production line of guitar models.

Moving To Los Angeles

1993 saw the company move its headquarters from New York to Los Angeles and create the “LTD” Series in 1996.


ESP technically has two lines, with the top end being for the US and Japan and the LTD line considered lower-end /budget version guitars that are more affordable and are Korean or Indonesian made.

Increased Costs

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of ESP LTD company Logo

With increased Supply Chain costs, ESP stopped selling most Japanese-made flagship guitars to the US in the early 1990s, except for the Artist Signature Series.

But due to the popularity among the heavy metal and hard rock players who could afford the increased price tag, the company resumed the supply chain of its high-end instruments a decade later.

Law Suits

ESP, like Ibanez, also made high-quality replicas of famous American Guitars, including…

  • Strat-style guitars
  • Les Paul-style
  • Flying V and others.

A player could get a guitar from these Japanese companies, still get the design lines of the iconic brands and be playing a quality-made Guitar for less money.

When the famed American companies realized the extent to which these Japanese brands were taking out of the market sales of their guitars, they filed lawsuits to prevent these replica guitars sales in the US, with both companies having to redesign their lines to be less similar to the American Models.

ESP & Jackson

Jackson Guitars was to be ESP’s main competitor in the 1980s and 1990s.

Jackson saw its brand diminish due to the buyout from Fender,

Players Loyalty Change

Many of its players saw the sale of Jackson to Fender as a negative choice to the purity of the famed brand, resulting in many switching over, making ESP one of the year’s fastest-growing companies in 2002.

Brand Champions

The company has continually built on their Brand champions, which include…

Along with the artist whose signature guitar we are looking at today…

Brian HEAD Welch

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the artist playing live

Brian “Head “Welch, Playing live in Konzert, Livekonzert, Livemusik, Rock im Park, Utopia Stage-3 June 2022-Author Fred Gasch-Image courtesy of Wikimedia & is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Brian Philip “Head” Welch is an American guitarist, composer, singer and co-founder of the band KoRn.

Along with fellow guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer, Welch helped develop KoRn’s distinctive sound that defined Nu-Metal in the mid-’90s.

Also called Aggro, this new alternative metal sub-genre combines elements of industrial, grunge, funk and heavy metal, heavily syncopated and based on guitar riffs with the music rarely featuring guitar solos.

7 String & Next Gen Metal

To get a heavier sound associated with this type of Next Gen Metal, players would look to use a seven-string guitar down-tuned, with the vocals adding screaming, rapping and growling to the singing.

KoRn’s Beginnings

Formed initially as LAPD, the group lost their singer and hired Welch and a new vocalist Jonathan Davis (1993), renaming the band “Creep.”

Inspired by the new lineup and the 1984 horror movie “Children of the Corn.” the band changed its name.

Early Years

Being a big fan of Ozzy Osbourne and initially interested in drums, at the age of 10, Welch’s father convinced him to play Guitar.

The nickname ‘Head” came from his friends during his teenage years, saying…

“Guys said my head looked like it was too big for my body, and so they started calling me ‘Head.’ I guess it stuck.”

Early Gear

His first Guitar was a Peavey Mystic, which he later sold along with a practice amp to bandmate “Munky.”

Brian referred to his Peavey as…

“Maybe the most metal-looking Guitar you have ever seen.

The Journey

Starting with the band’s self-titled debut album “KoRn (1994), they went on to record

  • Life Is Peachy (1996)
  • Follow the Leader (1998)
  • Issues (1999)
  • Untouchables (2002)
  • Take a Look in the Mirror (2003)

Blending heavy down-tuned guitars, electronic elements, and unrestrained vocal melodies, KoRn has remained one of the biggest top-selling heavy nu-metal bands since they debuted, playing to sold-out arenas.

Solo Projects

Leaving the band in 2005, Welch released his debut album, Save Me From Myself (2008), followed by “Paralyzed” (2011).

Welch also announced that he had re-dubbed his album after his autobiography of the same name in 2007. (More on this later)

Love & Death

In February 2012, Welch re-branded his music and formed a new band lineup under Love and Death.

The group went on to release…

  • Chemicals (2012)
  • Between Here & Lost ( 2013)
  • Perfectly Preserved ( 2021)

Back In The KoRn Lineup

Reuniting and rejoining the band in 2013 and after 10 years, Welch recorded The Paradigm Shift.

Followed by…

  • The Serenity of Suffering (2016)
  • The Nothing (2019)
  • Requiem (2022)


  • Welch and Shaffer were ranked at No. 26 on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time.
  • In 2000, KoRn won their first Grammy for Best Music Video, and in 2003, their 2nd for Best Metal Performance.
  • In 2009, Welch joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians’ careers.

Brian HEAD Welch In Print

Save Me From Myself is an inspiring story of Welch’s secret addiction to drugs and alcohol, which forced him to leave the successful band.

After a decade-long battle with depression and continuing as a solo act, along with trying to create a new brand and finding spiritual support/guidance through religion, the journey eventually carried him back to his former bandmates. (See Image)

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the artists book

Save Me from Myself (2007) – Image courtesy of Amazon -Tap to see more

The book peaked at No. 63 on the Billboard 200, while on the Hard Rock charts, it reached 13 and 21, respectively.

Musical Equipment

The Ibanez UV7 OP

2013-2020 saw the release of the first Steve Vai 7 String Universe Signature Model, which Vai used to amplify his expression & virtuosity in the studio and on tour (See Image)

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the UV70P Steve Vai Signature Universe Guitar

The S Style Solidbody UV70P Steve Vai Signature Universe Guitar – Black-          w/ locking Tremolo, Bolt-on Construction-25.5″ Scale length-Maple Walnut Neck and HSH Pickup Configuration.-Image courtesy of

KoRn took the new instrument and was undoubtedly the first to thrust the 7-string into the new mainstream Metal genre as a Guitar that could be used for heavy riffing.

Want To Know More About This Guitar? Tap Here

Champion For Ibanez


Welch almost exclusively played Ibanez, eventually leading to the two guitarists having their own K7 signatures and LA Custom Shop baritone guitars.


It is a guitar with a longer Scale Length, typically a larger body, and heavier internal bracing so that it can be tuned to a lower pitch; many brands produce it, but due to low popularity, done in small quantities.

Baritone Guitars offer certain sonic advantages, especially for players who want to tune down the lowest string and even the entire Guitar a whole step or more.

Scale Length refers to the distance between the saddle and the nut, with the standard on a 6-string electric guitar being between 24″ (610 mm) to 25.5″ (648mm) and 25.5 to 27′ (685mm) for most 7-string models. (More on this later)

New Brand, New Champion

In 2017, after 24 years, Welch left Ibanez switching endorsement to ESP Guitars and releasing his first signature model, the SH-7ET. 

The Guitar

Working closely with the development team, Welch ensured the Signature instrument captured his ideal look and sound.

It includes a Neck-thru-body design, a Flamed Maple top in See Thru Purple Finish, a contoured, comfortable basswood body and sleek, streamlined Superstrat body-style horns.

It employs a 3-piece Maple neck with an Ebony fingerboard and is equipped with Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker pickups, EverTune bridge system and more. (Read On) 

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the ESP LTD SH-7 signature guitar

The ESP LTD SH-7 “Evertune” Signature Series Brian “Head” Welch  Guitar in See-Thru Purple w/FFM Pickups, Neck-through Body & More. Image courtesy of Amazon- Tap Image to see more.

Tech Specs


  • Guitar Model – SH-7 Evertune Brian Welch Signature
  • Body Shape – Double Cutaway S-Style (S-Style is used to describe a Super Strat-styled body design)
  • Body Type – Solid
  • Body Material – Contoured basswood
  • Top Wood Material & Style – Maple Cap-Flamed
  • Number of Strings – 7
  • Orientation – Right-handed
  • Country of Origin – Indonesia
  • Item Weight –10.25 lb/4.649 kg
  • Years in Production – First available February 21, 2017, to present
  • Product Dimensions – 44 x 4 x 16 inches
  • Item Model Number – LSH7ETFMSTP
  • Body Finish – See-thru Purple Gloss and Matching Headstock


  • Neck- 3-piece Maple
  • Fingerboard Radius – 14″ (350mm)
  • Fingerboard Material – Macassar Ebony
  • Neck Profile – Extra Thin U
  • Neck Joint ConstructionNeck-Thru
Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the ESP LTD SH-7 signature guitars neck construction

The ESP LTD SH-7  Signature  Guitar w/Neck Through Construction -Image courtesy of Amazon – Tap Image to see more.    

  • Scale Length – 25.5″

Benefits Of A 7 String w/Standard Scale Length

With a longer Scale length, you may find reaching the wider Fretboard difficult or awkward with your fretting hand.

A 7-string with a standard 25.5-inch scale will make moving instruments comfortable.

  • Neck Finish – Satin
  • Nut Width – 1.97 in. (50 mm)
  • Nut Material – Ebony
  • Nut Type – Molded
  • Number of Frets & Size – 24-XJ (Extra-jumbo)


The SH-7ET uses the Fishman Fluence® Modern Humbucker pickups for incredible Sonic ranges and tones.

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the ESP LTD SH-7 signature guitar power station and hardware

The ESP LTD SH-7 w/Alnico & Ceramic HH Pickups, MV/MT Controls, 3-way switch and Evertone Bridge system- Image courtesy of Amazon – Tap to see more.

  • Pickup Configuration – HH
  • Neck Pickup – Fishman Fluence Modern Alnico Humbucker
  • Bridge Pickup – Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Humbucker
  • Pickup Cover Material– Black Nickle
  • Pickup Switch – 3-way
  • Controls– Master Volume/Master Tone (Push/Pull)


The push-pull tone pot lets the player access two different voicings.

Down Position on the Master Tone gives you an Active sound, and if you pull the Tone Switch up, you get a Passive tone.


Watch To See How The PowerStation Works Video 1

Hardware & Controls

  • Finish– Black
  • Strap Buttons – Standard
  • Tuners – LTD Locking
  • Bridge Type –Fixed Bridge/ Adjustable
  • Bridge Design- ET Evertune (F model)

Who Is EverTune?

EverTune is an American company (est 2010) that produces a guitar bridge designed to maintain stable tuning and spot-on intonation all over the Neck in nearly any condition ( temperature or humidity) from changing string tension caused by bending.

“When a string stretches or slips, the springs apply the opposing force necessary to compensate for the shift, thus maintaining the correct tension and tuning.”


Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the ESP LTD SH-7 signature guitar bridge system

The SH-7ET with Evertone F Model bridge design- Image courtesy of guitarcenter -Tap image to see more

How It Works

The Bridge Design uses a mechanism to keep the string tension constant through a spring and lever system, one for each of a guitar’s strings. (See Image)

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the Evertune mechanism

The patented EverTune spring & lever mechanism -Image courtesy of Wikipedia and is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0

Added Benefit

This System allows the player to tune with a screw on the bridge instead of the Headstock.

Special Features

  •  Glow-in-the-dark side position markers. (See Image)
Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the neck with GITD Position markers

The ESP LTD SH-7 w/Glow-in-the-dark side position markers-image courtesy of (some models may vary)

Headstock with “Sir Headly”

The Headstock sports the name that inspired this instrument, “Sir Headly.”

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the guitars headstock with Sir Headly etched on the guitar

The LTD Locking tuners, 3-piece maple neck, and guitar name inspiration – Image courtesy of Amazon – Tap to see more.

More FAQ

Brian Head Welch Talking His Guitar Video 2

Pros & Cons

  • Contoured, Comfortable Basswood Body w/Flamed Maple Cap
  • 3-piece Maple Neck w/Macassar Ebony Fingerboard
  • Neck-Thru Joint Construction
  • 25.5″ Scale Length
  • Fishman Fluence Humbucker Pickups
  • Master Volume/Master Tone (Push/Pull)
  • EverTune Bridge Design
  • Glow-in-the-dark Side Position Markers
  • Versatile
  • Pricey
  • Heavier Weight Because Of The Maple Cap
  • The Scale Might Be Too Short For People Accustomed To Longer Baritone 7-string Guitars

Final Thoughts

I first saw KoRn in 2015 in the video “Did My Timefor the movie Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, and I was drawn to their sound and started down my 7-string journey.

This Brian Head Welch signature guitar has exceptional build quality, tuning stability and looks excellent.

Also, I am a big fan of the Neck-Through Constructions and the Push Pull Tone Switch, corresponding to the two different pickups.

The GITD neck markers were a great idea when I first saw them on the Steve Vai JEM and still are today, along with the standard Scale Length.

Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the playing live and image for CTA

Should You Get This Guitar


If you need this kind of sound or want a 7 Sring in your arsenal.

Based on the design, it can be versatile, but as signature guitars go, it is a bit pricey.

Did You Like This Article?

Check out my James Hetfield Signature Guitar ESP LTD Iron Cross review. 


Leave your comments in the section below, and if you want me to review a favourite guitar.

As always, stay the course and keep playing.

See you in a couple of weeks for my next post.

Feature Image of complete guitar (Front & Back) courtesy of Amazon 
Feature Image of Brian “Head “Welch, playing live at Konzert, Livekonzert, Livemusik, Rock im Park, Utopia StageAuthor Fred Gasch Image courtesy of Wikimedia and Licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 de
CTA image Brian performing with Korn at the 1st show of the reunion tour on May 15, 2013, Belle Vernon, PA-Image courtesy of Wikimedia- Author Josie Borisow -And is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Brian Head Welch Signature Guitar-Image of the website logo

To Get Back To The Home Page – Tap On The Image Above

The ESP LTD SH-7 Brian HEAD Welch Signature Guitar


Basswood Body w/Flamed Maple Cap


Neck-Thru Joint Construction


25.5" Scale Length


Fishman Fluence Humbucker Pickups


ET EverTune Bridge Design



  • 3-piece Maple Neck
  • Master Volume/Tone (Push/Pull) Options
  • Glow In The Dark Side Position Markers
  • LTD Locking Tuners
  • "Sir Headley" On Headstock


  • Pricey
  • Heavy

Starting A Journey At 7 Years Of Age, The Love For The Guitar Only Became Stronger Going Into My Teens. This Leading To An Exciting Time Of Teaching, Performing, And Recording. Join Me Now As We Can Bring The Love Of This Instrument To Other Musicians Globally.

  • I would definitely try that! I have an LTD Arrow and I really admire the craftsmanship from ESP. Though I had a few issues with quality control, Its the most comfortable guitar I’ve ever played with and it’s a very important point to focus on when buying a guitar.

    Though I swapped the stock EMG 81 pickup for a Fishman. I like the option I get by switching to different voicings but the 81 sounded better for my taste… The Fishman is a lot cleaner in terms of feedback though. Do you have a preference?

    How about a review of the Arrow? Do you like it? I have the Black Metal edition and it really looks like a signature guitar, Max Cavalera has one!

    Oliver July 2, 2023 4:49 am Reply
    • Hello Oliver 

      Great to meet you, and thank you for the site visit and feedback on this guitar.

      I will add that the body is very comfortable playing, so thank you for the suggestion.

      Regarding pickups, I already own a few guitars with the EMG 85N/81B Configuration and find it an excellent combo for filling a room.

      So having the Fishman Fluence is a nice change, especially with the voicing change option you get with the push/pull tone pot option.

      I will also look into the BME LTD Arrow and get a post soon.

      Do not hesitate to read our other posts and share your thoughts.


      admin July 4, 2023 11:46 pm Reply

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