ESP Vulture or Snakebyte?

Michael V.

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well in this crazy world we are living in! I have decided that I want to have an official piece of James Hetfield history! Normally I am not keen on the idea of signature models, but I since James was one of my biggest inspirations I want to get an ESP. I an torn between a white Snakebyte and the Vulture. I have two Gibson Explorers, a 2003 in Black and a 2019 in Natural, already and I do not have any flying Vs. Admittedly I really do like the Vulture's looks and it would be different and unique in the collection. Which would you choose? Sadly I'll never be able to play them before I buy as I know that would be the best way to choose!


Thank you for reading and have a great day!!

Papa Fiq


Honestly speaking, both are great instruments and they each have a unique character of their own. Looking at your circumstances, where you have not own a flying V, I would say try the Vulture. But you will not go wrong with any of the two. And personally, the ESP Snakebyte is totally different than a Gibson Explorer, both feel and playability point of view. 


I would agree. Vulture is a great guitar and if you are interested in a V then I would recommend it.  


if you're a seated kind of player...I would say snakebyte all the way


I second this; was about to jump in here and say the same thing.


If you're on the fence about it, try picking up a used ltd version of both. Play them a bit and decide. Less likely to lose a lot of money if you buy used, and you get the feel for both. Then sell the ltds and order your ESP once you've made a decision or keep the LTD and beat on it while keeping your ESP nice.

Michael V.

Thank you for the responses everyone! Pinian you bring up a great point I never thought of. To be honest the guitar I really want as a collectors piece is the Iron Cross, but I have that in LTD already so I never thought about it. It has some set up issues as it never seems to be 100%. Maybe I should get the Iron Cross instead. I never see them for sale. There is only 1 on reverb while there are multiples of the others. Dang it! haha

Michael V.

While I like what you are thinking Pinian 18k is not in the budget haha. I was thinking the White Iron Cross. The issue is I already have the LTD of that (my only Hetfield signature thus far) so would it make sense to get another one? Also is it worth that kind of money for a signature model? I have wanted to do this for years and quite frankly I keep talking myself out of it because I can't help but think all that extra cost is just because of Jame's name. I really wish someone somewhere would stock one of these damn things so I could try it out to see for myself if it is worth the extra money from a playing standpoint!!! No store I can think of near me ever has ANY ESP guitars. Only LTD. Damn First world problems! lol


I currently own a gloss black Vulture (E serial number, 2019), ESP Baritone Snakebyte (E serial number, 2019), a black Snakebyte (SS serial number, 2011). I’ve previously owned a white IC (E serial number, 2014 IIRC) and an LTD IC (2014 also).

In terms of playability, they’re all probably relatively similar. The LTD absolutely stacked up against the ESP IC, although the build quality on the ESP just feels that 10% or so more solid. Personally, my favourite is the Vulture just because it feels very lively and just has something the others don’t.

If you’re stuck between the Vulture and Snakebyte, the Vulture feels a little less like a signature guitar, if that makes any sense. It’s just a really damn good piece of gear that happens to also be a Hetfield sig, while the Snakebyte is very much ‘this is a Hetfield guitar’.


I know that might not come across very clearly in text form, but it’s difficult to articulate any other way they’re both equally comfortable standing or sitting, both very well balanced and the specs as far as pickups, hardware etc is identical. The difference is in the machine heads (Gotoh vs Sperzel) but it’s so minor it’s not really worth thinking about very much.


I should really put a few pictures of my own collection up sometime


A gloss Vulture? I never knew that was a thing! We need pics!


Wow, so you are also one of the 7 that owns the esp snakebyte baritone CS? That’s 3 now from the forum. 


I think there’s 8 bouncing around! The last guy I saw talking about them listed 7 but no-one knew about the one that I have at that time. I’ve had it since August last year and honestly just never thought to mention it, haha!

Michael V.

Those purple Snakebytes are awesome! I don't have a need for a baritone guitar though. Metallica is actually the heaviest band I listen to so it would have no purpose for me. I am so torn between the Iron Cross, Snakebyte, and Vulture. I want to get essentially one collector guitar. As I said before I have the LTD Iron Cross and that design is my favorite, but why have two of the same thing? I guess I'll just have to struggle with this until I can make a decision! I appreciate all of your thoughts. If you were going to get one as a collector guitar would you go for your favorite even if you have the cheaper version already? I wish I was made of money then I would just get all three haha, but alas I am not. 


IMO the vulture is more exclusive. I think it’s less populair than the snakebyte. It’s shape is starting to grow on me. I guess it’s a matter of personal taste, but I would go with the vulture. 


The Vulture is definitely rarer in the wild. I’ve never seen an ESP Vulture other than my own (and Hetfield’s, but that doesn’t really count!), while I’ve seen a few people with ESP Snakebytes before.


IMO my Vulture is a better guitar, but that’s basically nothing more than opinion because, spec-wise, they’re identical. It basically comes down to picking whichever body shape you personally prefer!

Michael V.

One more thought to confuse things. The Iron Cross(white) is probably my favorite signature of his but I already have the LTD version of that which is currently my only signature guitar. Would it be dumb to go ESP for that and have both? One collector, one player I guess....that is when the truss rod cooperates.


If the Iron Cross is your favourite, it’s your purchase so you should get the one you like most. I previously had an LTD IC and an ESP IC, let them go just because I don’t really get along with the body shape, but if you’re thinking whether to do it for being judged or something, in the nicest way I can say it, who cares? Buy the guitar you want to buy most, because when we close our forum tab you’re gonna be the one sat holding the guitar in the end.

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