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Reader Guitar of the Month: ESP George Lynch Skull N’ Bones

Reader Guitar of the Month: ESP George Lynch Skull N’ Bones

After 15 years of pining, a guitarist finally scores the ’80s hair-metal guitar of his dreams.

Name: Mike Lisante

Hometown: Maywood, New Jersey
Guitar: ESP George Lynch Skull N’ Bones

As a born and bred ’80s guitarist, I grew up on a steady diet of hair metal. Dokken, with their super-talented guitarist George Lynch, got steady airplay on my Walkman. In the early days of MTV, the infamous video for “It’s Not Love” (featuring George and crew riding a flatbed truck through the streets of L.A.) left a lasting impression on me. In that video is where I first saw his now famous “skull and bones” guitar.

Legend has it that the guitar was built by George’s neighbor, Johnny “J. Frog” Garcia, a Hollywood special effects artist. He carved the body from a solid piece of maple, and even added his own tooth to the skull.

Upon presenting the guitar to George on the video set, ESP reps wasted no time applying the ESP logo to the headstock. (George was endorsed by them then, and continues the relationship today). After years of duty, the guitar now hangs silently in New York City’s Hard Rock Café.

In 1999, ESP created a limited run of 25 replicas, each numbered and with a certificate of authenticity signed by George himself. At age 24 then, I was a broke college grad with no means of affording the $4K price tag. Earlier this year, I was surfing eBay when I came across Bones #04 in mint condition (with its original owner). I threw down my bid, sold two guitars to finance this beast, and hoped for the best. When the auction closed, I couldn’t believe I’d won.

The guitar needed some TLC. It was kept in collectors’ condition, so the frets were in perfect shape, but they needed a pro leveling job. I brought it to my buddy Steve Koenke in Teaneck, New Jersey, and it came back stage ready four days later. It’s been rocking ever since and I even play it at gigs. It always gets more attention than me and hopefully I’ll go to the grave with it. After all, it is a bones guitar.

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