Price paid: A$ 800
Purchased from: Private Sale
Features: This guitar was hand-made in Japan in 1989. It has 22 XJ frets. The neck is made from ebony, and is smooth and fast. The action is a bit high, I thought, given its reputation as a bit of a 'shredding' guitar. The body is a light, thin, moulded Strat-style body made from mahogany and painted metallic blue. The finish is very, very good considering the age of the guitar. The bridge is a Floyd Rose Licensed double-locking floating bridge tremolo. The pickups are passive and the guitar has one humbucker in the bridge and one single coil hot rail in the neck. Both pickups are ESP brand. Each pickup has a volume knob, and they share a tone knob. There is a toggle Switch to select either or both pickups at once. The tuners are ESP branded.
This particular guitar has had strap locks fitted at some point. They are secure and solid.
NOTE: I'm not 100% sure about the neck and body wood - I was told this by a guitar tech at a local store. // 8
Sound: This guitar has a 'hot' sound. The bridge pickup is bright, but solid. It is tough and it does a good metal sound if you ask it. The cleans are nice - the hot rail is quite smooth. I find it to me much smoother than the neck pickup of my Fender Stratocaster. The pickup level is also higher than my Strat.
I like to play classic rock, hard rock and a bit of metal. This guitar can cover all those styles adequately. I still prefer my Strat for a lot of things, but this ESP is great for any metal or fast playing that I want to do. It has such a ballsy grunt when playing power chords, much more intimidating and full than my Strat. The cleans do leave a bit to be desired though. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: It's fairly difficult to speculate on factory setups as this guitar left the factory almost 21 years ago. But, as far as I have found, it's perfectly made. There are no gaps, no flaws or anything (apart from some superficial damage from the previous owners knocking it around a little). It is in really good condition. The finish is superb, and feels great. It must have been brilliant when it was new. The hardware is a bit grungy. It needs a good clean. There is slight oxidisation present. // 9
Reliability & Durability: As I have said, this guitar is 20 years old and as far as I can tell, it works as well today as it did then. The guitar is very solid. The hardware is tough but precise, and I can yank the knobs around without fear of breaking them. The strap lugs have been upgraded to strap locks, which are very secure. This guitar is solid and trustworthy. However (and honestly, who ever would?) I would not gig without a backup (for this or any other guitar) because I could run into issues like broken strings or anything... but it is very solid so far.
There is one flaw - the jack is a bit dodgy. Occasionally I get a static noise through to the amp, though inspection of the jack hasn't helped. I am going to get it fixed/replaced. // 8
Overall Impression: This guitar is called an ESP Horizon Custom Shop, and I don't know how comparable it is to brand new guitars carrying that name. It has quite different features and such. I was a bit apprehensive when I bought it, as I bought it sight unseen. It was just a random thing that I happened to come across it, and I bought it on a whim. I hadn't played it, but the price seemed too good to pass up. Anyway, I didn't really know what to expect, but I am happy with how the guitar plays and in many ways it is much better than my Strat.
This guitar isn't very complicated. It does hard, full distorted tones really well. The clean is okay, but there are better guitars to use for such things. This is a tough guitar with a fast neck and I really really like it. // 8