Greek guitar virtuoso Kostas Karamitroudis, better known as Gus G, discussed the decision to move on from ESP to Jackson. Gus G, best known for his work for Ozzy Osbourne, is famous for his unique-looking signature guitars which were originally made by ESP.
During his recent appearance on “Talk in the Fast Lane” podcast, Gus G was asked about his endorsements and what’s the difference between his current Jackson and previous ESP guitars. He replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):
“I mean, look, the specs pretty much are the same for both guitars. If we’re going to compare brands, to me, they’re both great manufacturers. I love the guitars ESP made and I love the guitar that Jackson are making for me.”
Going further into it, Gus explained that this was nothing else than a business decision since some of the people he was in contact with in ESP had left the company. He continued:
“I mean, the reason why I had to move from ESP was purely a business decision. A lot of the people that I was working within the company, they left. Sometimes that happens, when people move from a company and the team sort of falls apart. And you’re not looked after, and things like that.”
Despite everything, Gus G still has nothing but good words to share about ESP:
“So yeah, I felt like my time with ESP was coming to an end. But they were good to me for many, many years, and we created some great instruments.”
Going over to Jackson, he said:
“And the same is happening with Jackson — they have a really nice team, great manufacturing team, great master builders. I have been to their factories in California, we were always like discussing ideas together when we were designing new guitars.”
“So it really is a blessing for me to be able to work with some of the biggest companies in the world, make instruments, and put my signature on there. It’s incredible.”
Gus G teamed up with ESP back in the mid-2000s. Before that, he had an endorsement deal with Washburn where he had the Culprit model with a somewhat similar body design, also resembling the Explorer body.
During his time with Ozzy Osbourne, Gus G was seen playing his ESP guitars. However, in 2016, he officially switched over to Jackson. It bore the same “star” body shape, originally designed by Wayne Charvel back in the day. It’s also widely believed that Wayne was inspired by Eddie Van Halen’s modified Ibanez Destroyer guitar, but that’s a whole different story that we can probably get into some other time.
During the same interview, Gus G also discussed some of his most important musical influences. Asked about how he got into music in the first place as a kid, Gus replied:
“Well, my father had a few vinyls at home — mainly Greek music — but he had a couple of vinyls that he brought from America when he visited my uncle in the States, and some of the rock vinyls were like, Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’, it was ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’, it was Queen.”
“So there was like, three or four rock vinyls at home. And I remember being attracted to that sound rather than the Greek folk music as a kid.”
Going into more detail about rock legend Peter Frampton, Gus recalled how he was mesmerized by his use of the so-called “talk box” effect:
“And I remember when I heard Peter Frampton doing the talk box guitar, being fascinated with it. And I think that’s what kind of sparked the idea of me playing guitar, you know?”
Since these are all classic rock albums from the old days, Gus was also asked about whether he still brings those early influences into his own music today. He explained:
“I don’t know, man, I think anything that we listen to, in that we’re influenced by it, somehow it translates it subconsciously in the mind. And some of these ideas come out.”
“It’s hard to say really, what goes where, but all these influences… they live. They live within us, all these things that we have. It’s what we call having a style. When you dissect somebody’s style, you probably can figure out a lot of things.”
“Because it’s never somebody’s personal style. It’s never like one thing, it’s probably different influences throughout his life.”
“So yeah, I think my guitar style is probably comprised of many guitar players, anything from Eagles and Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix to Tony Iommi and heavy metal stuff and shredders of the 80s and so it’s just like one big mixed bag.”
As of this moment, Gus G is still active both with his band Firewind and with his solo project. And, of course, these days, you’ll mostly see him playing his signature Jackson guitars.