A chat with CMI's Steve Lane, who will be bringing ESP and Blackstar to this year's Melbourne Guitar Show.
CMI is one of Australia’s premier distributors of fine musical instruments: they’re the ones responsible for bringing ESP and Blackstar to our stores, studios and stages. And like many Australian musicians, they’re itching to get back out there in front of an audience at the Melbourne Guitar Show. They’ll be bringing some special treats to the show this year, as Guitar & Accessories Brand Manager Steve Lane tells us:
“We’re teaming up with the guys at Belfield Music this year, who are based out in New South Wales,” Lane says.
“They’re one of our bigger ESP dealers nationally, and we’re really going to show attendees at the Melbourne Guitar Show the finer end of ESP.”
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So what does that mean?
“That means Custom Shop. That means some one-off ESP USA models. We’ve also got a kind of pretty top secret announcement. It’ll be happening from ESP on the day of the Guitar Show; we’ll be launching the three new guitars in the LTD range. So that’s very exciting. And there will be a lot of exclusive models that have just arrived in Australia on the stand for the dates.”
It’ll be a rare opportunity for Aussie guitarists to see the kind of flash that ESP regularly displays at its booth at the NAMM Show in Anaheim each year. NAMM attendees will recall the absolute glitz and showiness of the ESP booth, where you will not only see catalogue models, but also some of the finest handcrafted instruments in the world, a sort of ‘best of the best’ opportunity for the brand to really go all-out on looks and features.
“That’s right,” Lane says. “And on the ESP stand this year at the Melbourne Guitar Show, there will be at least three guitars that are in that category. We’re talking super high end; one of the guitars, for example, is from what’s called the Exhibition Series. And this guitar is really next level. The woods that are used… I mean, it says it’s quilt maple but it’s one of these maples that looks 3D in real life. You have to see it in person. Photos can’t capture it. It’s really a ‘seeing is believing’ thing. So I would definitely ask people to come over and have a look at that guitar on the stand!”
ESP has long been known for its range of signature instruments, from legacy artists like George Lynch and Ron Wood to modern players. ESP’s LTD brand even got on board with Australia’s Parkway Drive to offer signature models for Luke Kirkpatrick and Jeff Ling in 2016. There are ESPs and/or LTDs designs with members of Of Mice & Men, Testament, Breaking Benjamin, Slayer, Judas Priest, Deftones, Lamb Of God, Unearth, Korn, Mastodon, Animals As Leaders, Darkest Hour, Soulfly, Behemoth, A Day To Remember, Code Orange, Goatwhore, Rammstein and many more. And with a new Metallica album out this year, there’s gotta be some Hetfields and Hammetts on display, right?
“Correct,” Lane says. “I would say to any Metallica fans that will be at the Show, definitely swing by and see what we’ve got on offer there. Because we do have some exclusive models that I think, possibly outside of the US, Melbourne will be the only place globally to see. We’ll have those guitars on show. The Metallica signatures do well for us and having the biggest metal band on Earth obviously helps push out the message, for sure!”
CMI will also be showing off the latest and greatest from Blackstar.
“For us the show is about showcasing the force of ESP and also highlighting Blackstar’s St James Range. These are lightweight valve models which came out twelve months ago. They sound great and we’re really looking forward to seeing what people think of them. And we’ll actually have someone on the stand from ESP, a gentleman called Miguel who is coming over from the US. He works with us very closely and he’s going to be there on the Saturday, and he can talk ESP to the next level! That will be his first time in Australia and it’s going to be great to have him along as well.”