ESP KH-3 Spider Review & Prices

ESP KH-3 Spider Review
Add to Compare
FIND IT ON:
Amazon logoReverb logoSweetwater logoMusician's Friend logo
Set a price alert
  • From ESP's 2021 Signature series
  • Kirk Hammett Signature
  • Made in Japan
  • 6 strings
  • 24.75"'' scale
  • 13.78" Fretboard Radius
  • Alder body
  • 3pc Maple neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: EMG Bone Breaker (Humbucker/Active)
  • Neck pickup: EMG Bone Breaker (Humbucker/Active)
  • 2 volume and 1 tone Dome knobs
  • 3-way Switch
  • Floyd Rose Original bridge
  • Extra Thin U Neck-Through neck
  • 24 XL Jumbo frets
  • Grover tuners
  • Weight around 9.4lbs (4.3kgs)
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 85
Sound 79
Build quality 70
Value for money 78
Overall Score 78
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
ESP KH-3 Spider
  • Made in Japan
  • Expensive Wood
  • Locking Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Neck-Through Build
  • Tremolo
  • Retainer Bar
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $3000, which means that the ESP KH-3 Spider is around 53% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Double Locking bridge that are made in Japan.

SET PRICE ALERT

These are affiliate links. We may earn a fee if you purchase after clicking. These prices are prone to error. Make sure you're buying the right product after clicking on a link from our site. We are not liable if you buy the wrong product after following these links. As an Amazon Associate site we earn from qualifying purchases.

Videos

The Most Underrated Iconic Guitar is Back (And Better Than Ever)!! || Kirk Hammett KH-3 Spider
ESP/LTD KH3 30th Anniversary Exposure
I waited a year for this... ESP KH3.
No Talking...Just Tones | ESP KH-3 Spider Kirk Hammett Signature 30TH Anniversary
No Talking...Just Tones | ESP LTD KH-3 Kirk Hammett | Black w/ Spider Graphic
More Videos

Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

Vote

Tuning stability

Vote

Neck speed (thickness)

Vote

Neck access to high frets

Vote

Neck profile shape

Vote

Fret edges

Vote

Pickups noise

Vote

Pickups power

Vote
View all user feedback

Explore All From ESP >

Is it Easy to Play?

The ESP KH-3 Spider meets 4 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not bad for beginners, but it could be better. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

ESP KH-3 Spider
  • Comfortable shape
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners
  • Easy-to-use bridge

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the ESP KH-3 Spider's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

How Lightweight is it?

We found that the ESP KH-3 Spider weighs around 9.4lbs (4.3kgs). This was recorded from some online retailers that publish the weight of the instruments they sell.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the ESP KH-3 Spider's 24.75" scale length compared to other common sizes:

ESP KH-3 Spider Scale Length Comparison
ESP KH-3 Spider's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the scale length used in most Gibson guitars. If you like the playability of a Gibson, this guitar will feel pretty similar. It's a lot shorter than the typical Stratocaster (25.5'')

As you can see from the picture above, a shorter scale length also means shorter separation between frets. If you got really small hands, you probably will feel more comfortable playing this guitar than a Fender Stratocaster.

This scale length also allows for easier bends and vibratos because the strings will have lower tension due to the shorter scale.

Finally, another thing affected by scale length is tone. A shorter scale will give less room for the harmonics, thus resulting in a warmer, more 'bassy' tone.

Still, remember that you string gauge plays an important part in all of this. A lighter gauge will make it easier to perform bends, vibratos and will also give you a brighter tone.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

ESP KH-3 Spider Neck Profile
ESP KH-3 Spider's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

The ESP KH-3 Spider's neck thickness is approximately 0.748'' (19mm) at the first fret, and 0.827'' (21mm) at the twelfth.

These measurements were taken either from the official ESP website, or, in case this information wasn't provided, by researching multiple online marketplaces and forums where owners of this model have posted their measurements.

It has a U type neck. This shape usually has more 'shoulders' than a C neck. It's great for guitarists who love the feel of a vintage neck. Most of them are thick, which makes it better for people with big hands. However, some of them can be thin like a C neck but with more mass to the sides for a better grip.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The ESP KH-3 Spider has a 13.78" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

ESP KH-3 Spider Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
ESP KH-3 Spider's fretboard radius compared to others

This makes it more similar to Gibson guitars (12'') than Fender (9.5''). It's slightly flatter than most modern Gibson fretboards though, which makes it more comfortable for single notes, bendings and vibratos, but less comfortable for chords.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the ESP KH-3 Spider has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

ESP KH-3 Spider
This model
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
Ibanez MM1
Compare
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

ESP KH-3 Spider Nut Width
ESP KH-3 Spider Nut Width

The ESP KH-3 Spider has a nut width of 42mm (1.654''). This is considered a narrow width for a 6-string guitar. This means that this guitar will have a narrower string separation at the nut, which will affect your fretting hand.

If you are a player with big hands, you might find it difficult to play chords without muting strings. However, this is good for players who have smaller hands, as it will allow them to reach each string more easily at the nut.

Frets

The ESP KH-3 Spider has 24 frets. A lot of people mistakenly believe that having more frets will always be better because it gives you a higher octave. This is certainly an advantage, but there's also a disadvantage to this.

Since the fretboard will be longer, the neck pickup will need to be placed closer to the bridge. And as you may know, the further away the neck pickup is from the bridge, the warmer it sounds. This means you'll have a brighter-sounding neck pickup when using a 24-fret guitar, even if you use the same pickup on a 22-fret guitar.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

ESP KH-3 Spider Fret Size Comparison
ESP KH-3 Spider's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The ESP KH-3 Spider's frets are XL Jumbo size. These are extra-large frets, which are perfect for people who truly want the least resistance for techniques like vibrato, bending, tapping, and just playing fast in general. You won't be able to feel the fretboard with these frets, so if you press too hard you'll get the notes out of pitch. It might take a while to get used to them because of this.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 90
Chord Playability 75
Solo Playability 90
Playability 85

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Alder wood pattern used for guitar building
Alder Body
Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple Neck
Rosewood wood pattern used for guitar building
Rosewood Fretboard

Alder Body: This is a lightweight type of wood that was popularized by Fender. According to them, it's a wood that offers a balanced tone but that favors the upper midrange slightly.

Maple Neck: This is one of the most popular types of wood used in all kinds of guitars. It's heavy, strong and compact, which makes it great for necks. However, it's also used for fretboards, bodies and tops due to its light color, resistance and beautiful patterns. When it comes to tone, it highlights the mid and high frequencies.

Rosewood Fretboard: Since the ban of Brazillian Rosewood, this has become a rare and expensive wood. It's not usually used for guitar bodies because of this, and also because it's heavy. Instead, it's used mainly for fretboards. Sometimes it's also used for necks because it's an extremely hard wood (even harder than maple). Its tonality tends to favor warm tones.

More made with the same wood:

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: EMG. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

These are active pickups, so you can expect a lot of output with a highly compressed signal that will give your tones more distortion while retaining a clear, defined sound, which is what many Heavy Metal players need. However, they have the disadvantage of sometimes lacking a fully clean sound when playing without distortion.

The ESP KH-3 Spider's configuration is HH. With this pickup combination, you'll get warmer tones and more output than using single coils. Humbucker pickups cancel the noise that single-coil suffer from, which also results in a warmer tone. This pickup combination isn't only for high-gain music like Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. Their warmness is also popular for Jazz, Indie, R&B, Blues and more.

More with the same pickups

ESP KH-3 Spider
This model
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
EMG Bone Breaker Bridge Pickup
EMG Bone Breaker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
EMG Bone Breaker Bridge Pickup
EMG Bone Breaker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
EMG Bone Breaker Bridge Pickup
EMG Bone Breaker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
EMG Bone Breaker Bridge Pickup
EMG Bone Breaker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Fixed Bridge
EMG Bone Breaker Bridge Pickup
EMG Bone Breaker Neck Pickup

Versatility

It comes with the popular 3-way switch that is present in most guitars. For more versatility, players tend to prefer a 5-way switch, although it all depends on what you want to use your guitar for.

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

Diagram

ESP KH-3 Spider pickups switch and push knobs diagram
ESP KH-3 Spider's switch options

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with HH configuration and Active pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Heavy Metal or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 85
Sustain 85
Versatility 61
Tuning Stability 85
Sound 79

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The ESP KH-3 Spider is made in Japan. You should expect a high-quality guitar with excellent quality control. It can be compared to guitars made in the US, which is why they're also expensive.

Bridge

Floyd Rose Original: With this type of tremolo bridge, you'll be able to perform dive bombs and pinch harmonics without getting out of tune. This type of bridge gives you the best versatility, but it also makes it harder to set up your guitar correctly, especially when changing your strings.

More with the same type of bridge:

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the ESP KH-3 Spider has a Locking nut. Instead of the typical nut, this nut locks the strings in place and will make them stay in tune even after heavy tremolo use. This type of nut provides the best tune stability, but they also make the guitar more expensive.

It also comes with a retainer bar for the locking nut, which is a helpful addition. Without it, the strings would change pitch once you lock down the nut, so you'd have to make more micro-adjustments at the bridge to tune it correctly.

More with the same nut material:

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Neck-Through neck joint. Many people believe a neck-through build delivers the best sustain because some of the vibrations from the neck aren't lost like with other neck joints. However, no one has been able to prove this. What we know is that a neck-through build is usually the most comfortable when playing the upper frets because there's nothing on your way at the neck-body joint.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 51
Features 75
Quality Control 85
Build Quality 70

All Specs

ESP KH-3 Spider
General
Brand: ESP
Year: 2021
Configuration: HH
Strings: 6
Made in: Japan
Series: Signature
Colors: Black
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Alder
Bridge: Floyd Rose Original
Neck
Neck Joint: Neck-Through
Tuners: Grover
Fretboard: Rosewood
Neck Material: 3pc Maple
Decoration: Spiders and Skulls
Scale Size: 24.75"
Shape: Extra Thin U
Thickness: 1st Fret: 0.748'' (19mm) - 12th Fret: 0.827'' (21mm)
Frets: 24 XL Jumbo
Fretboard Radius: 13.78"
Nut: Locking
Nut Width: 42mm (1.654'')
Electronics
Switch: 3 Way
Knobs: Dome
Volume Controls: 2
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: EMG Bone Breaker (Humbucker / Active)
Neck Pickup: EMG Bone Breaker (Humbucker / Active)

More Popular Comparisons With This Guitar

User Reviews

Help others by sharing your opinion about this guitar. Note: to avoid spam, your review will be submitted for approval before appearing here.

You're reviewing as anonymous. to comment with your account.
Your Rating: