James Hetfield’s 1987 ESP MX220 “Eet Fuk”

This was the first guitar that James started using after signing an endorsement deal with ESP guitars in 1987. It was his main guitar during the “And Justice For All” era, and he used it both in the studio and during the live tour.

James was seen using the guitar for the majority of the
James was seen using the guitar for the majority of the “Live Shit: Binge & Purge” gig in Seattle, in 1989.


The guitar has a mahogany body with a set neck, a rosewood fretboard featuring custom “middle finger” inlays, and it was equipped with a Tune-o-Matic bridge, Gotoh tuners, and EMG 81/60 active pickups.

It was based on a Gibson Explorer, a guitar that James was familiar with from his earlier years. The body shape is practically identical, with some minor differences in contours, and the headstock is slightly different from the one he had on his old Explorer.

I said (to Matt Masciandaro, ESP CEO) I was looking for the Explorer shape, which fits my body well, and that I wanted it made out of a heavier wood, a little denser, and a little darker. I wanted the headstock bigger and the same color as the guitar.

I liked the Gibson shape, but the neck was a bit too big in the back. The radius was too round. I wanted something a little flatter, a little faster feeling.

James Hetfield – original source needed

According to James, he preferred the headstock to be bigger and even wrapped this one with gaffer tape in other to achieve that.

The headstock is bigger. I said I wanted it looking more lika hockey stick, and the Scary Guy gaffer tape was my attempt at that by wrapping tape around it.

James Hetfield – original source needed

Also, the controls are different – on his old Explorer, there were two volume and one tone controls, while on the ESP he only had one volume and one tone, and of course, a toggle switch.

The Stickers

The guitar got its nickname from a sticker that James placed on the upper left corner of the body, reading “Eet Fuk”. If you haven’t guessed by yourself, this sticker basically describes two of James’ favorite activities, eating food, and – you can work out the other yourself.

Sticker on James' ESP reading
Sticker on James’ ESP reading “EET FUK”.

Apart from that, the guitar had a sticker reading “WELL’ARS Stiffy Boyz” on the lower portion of the body, below the pickups, but that one didn’t stay on it for too long. The third sticker, or actually it was a drawing, was on the headstock, and showed the “Scary Guy” design from the “Live Shit: Binge & Purge” cover.

It seems however that nowadays, the design on the headstock is somewhat different, and almost resembles a Kiss band member more than the “Scary Guy”.


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