One day, while we were sitting around at ESP (previous to the lockdown, obviously), someone pointed out a photo recently posted by one of our ESP All Access community members. The member was Frederick Bell of Mount Holly, North Carolina, and his collection of LTD guitars was impressive to say the least. Taking a look at his All Access user profile, we were astounded to see that indeed, Frederick was the proud owner of 14 (or more) of our guitars. We reached out to Frederick to find out a little more about him.
You’ve got an outstanding collection of our guitars. What first got you into collecting LTD models?
I started out playing acoustic guitars. I’ve played some friends' Fenders years before I really started playing acoustic. In February of 2015, I went to Guitar Center to purchase my first electric guitar. Didn’t know what I was going to purchase. I only knew Fender and Gibson at that time, So, I spent the entire day playing all of the guitars. They should’ve made me staff that day after being there the entire day. LOL. But I wanted to make sure it was the guitar for me. I kept going back to the look and feel of the MH-100 QMNT, so I finally purchased it for my first ESP LTD guitar.
Do you actually play all of the guitars you own?
With the exception of the LTD V-401B, I play all of my guitars. I have guitars set for different tunings, so as I play different music and genres, I can quickly pick up a different guitar and start playing. I have a guitar playlist that I use to practice with, so they all range between E Standard, E Flat, Drop D, C Sharp, etc. Having an awesome guitar line up makes the switch between tunings seamless. Call me lazy, but much easier than excessive tuning. LOL.
You seem to have a preference for the EC Series guitars. What makes those right for you?
I like my MH-1001NT and MH-1000ET models, but the EC models fits my body the best. I mainly play rhythm guitar, so the EC guitars fits snug, and doesn’t go anywhere. It fits so comfortable on my body, so it allows me to play for hours. With me loving Thrash and Death Metal , the feel of the EC model makes playing feel effortless. I can then just get lost in the music.
Of all the models you own, which ones are your current favorites?
I enjoy the new Phoenix-1000, MH-1001NT, MH-1000ET, and my Gary Holt GH-600NT, but spend the most time on my following EC models: EC-1000S Fluence, EC-1000 Fluence Tiger-eye, EC-1000 Vintage Black, EC-1000 Black, EC-1000 Violet Shadow, and the EC-1000 QM Black Cherry. Each one has their own character, feel, and sound. That is why I have two of the same models with many, because I will put in a set of Fishman Fluence Modern pickups in one, and EMG Gary Holt pickups in the other. That way, I can have the same great feel with different tone. And I also enjoy doing some customization to some of them to express myself even more through my awesome axes. You can see some of the photos of some of the customizations that I’ve done on my ESP profile.
What kinds of tones are you generally looking to achieve?
I look for tones that represent me, so I mainly look for aggressive active pickups in my guitars. There’re some beautiful 2020 models with Seymour Duncans that I may have to try out my wood working skills to put in either Fishman Fluence or EMGs. LOL. But finding the right tone has been a long journey of the right amp and pedals. I’ve finally been able to achieve that tone with ESP LTD guitars of course, and with my Peavey 6505+ 1x12 combo amp. But last but not least, from the brain of James Brown, my Amptweaker pedals. I think I went through every pedal out there from Boss, Wampler, Empress, Fender, MXR, but the only one that really expresses me was Amptweaker. That is no disrespect to Brian, Jim, and the other guys out there doing great things with their pedals. I’m only talking about being able to find the tone to express who I am as a person, individual, and guitarist. The ESP LTD craftsmanship is a big part of that tone as well. The sustain in the set-thru neck is awesome. My 2015 Anniversary EC model is a set neck, and I can tell the difference when playing. But even with all of the gear out there, it’s going to come back to the quality of the guitars.
Where do you usually get your guitars?
Being that I’m not an ESP Artist, LOL, I usually use four avenues to purchase my guitars. I’ll purchase some directly from ESP. Sometimes, I’ll pay in full or monthly payments, so I’ll use Zzounds.com, AMS (americanmusical.com), and Reverb.com. I do have the ESP Custom Shop on my bucket list. The Custom team create some wonderful pieces of work, and I also want something painted by Spongebrick using his mad skills.
What are you doing musically and how can people listen to your stuff, if you have anything you’d want to share?
I spend a lot of time doing covers to work on my skills, and learning new things. In the day and age we now live in, playing guitar helps me to relieve stress. I stopped playing for a year with being so busy with work a couple of years ago, and ended up getting pretty sick from the levels of stress from work. Don’t think I will stop playing guitar again. Lol. Due to COVID-19, I’m really playing a lot more now. I have some older videos posted on my YouTube channel, but I’ve since moved into a house and built a studio. I need to post new videos with the new setup. But depending on when things gets back to normal, I will look for a local thrash/death metal band looking for a rhythm guitarist. Would love to do some shows on the weekend.
Photos courtesy of Frederick Bell