Price paid: C$ 900
Purchased from: Steve's Music
Features: This is the Reign in Blood 25th Anniversary guitar, Made in 2011 in Korea. 24 Extra Jumbo frets, alder body, bolt on maple neck with ebony fretboard, Slayer inlay at the 13th fret position going up to the 11th and pentagram inlays at the 1,3,5,7 and 9th frets. Thin U neck contour. String through Alder body with a TOM bridge, non locking ESP tuners, black nickel hardware and a black finish with the Slayer Reign in Blood graphic (based on the original album artwork). EMG 81/85 pickups, one volume and one tone knob. Includes Certificate of Authenticity signed by all four members of Slayer(actual signatures as the ink from Tom Araya and Jeff Hanneman's markers leaked through to the other side of my certificate) also stating that the model I have is number 87 in the total of 250 produced worlwide. Pointed headstock with LTD logo in Vintage Slayer font. Lots of features but for the price paid, ESP could have thrown in a hardcase or even a gig bag. // 9
Sound: Look, I thought this guitar wouldn't be for me from the moment I saw pics of it. I fell into that closed minded crowd thinking that this would suit Metal or shredding only. Boy was I wrong!
I own a Vox AC-30 and a Marshall AVT-50 and this guitar sings through both of them! I play everything from Funk to Metal, to Classic rock to Reggae and this guitar suits everything I've thrown at it! I've heard alot of folks talk crap about the EMG 85 at the neck being "emptier" sounding than the 60 as far as clean tones go...I sincerely disagree. I've owned an Eclipse II with an 81/60 and my personal opinion is that the 81/85 is far more versatile for an advanced player. Very quiet at high gain and high volume, perfect balance of mids and lows on clean settings and surprisingly clear string definition. Not super bright sounding, but it's not a tele...it gets as bright as you would expect active pups to be! The tone and volume controls are very responsive and effective at adding to this axe's versatility. If you know what you're doing, you should be able to dial in what you're looking for with these two simple controls.
It's a bolt on but has sustain for days! The alder body is light and comfortable. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: The set up out of the box was ok, but the action was a little too high for my taste. Also for some reason, the Bridge pick up was way too high, almost to the point of touching the strings! I lowered the action and set the pick ups to my taste easily. Had some issues with the low E string fret buzz with the factory installed strings, but after changing to my preferance of 10-52's it seems to have disapeared.
The neck is smooth,thin and fast. It fits my hand perfectly. Doesn't have that sticky, too much gloss kinda feel to it. The neck plays like butter, it's honestly my favorite feature on this axe. Kind of like a cross between a Gibson SG standard, a Deluxe Telecaster and a Les Paul, not too wide, not too thin.
No flaws on the finish that I could see, tuners seem great... Does not easily go out of tune. The finish is absolutely gorgeous, very well detailed collage of the original artwork. Does not look as faded and jumbled as it does in the photos online. You really have to see it to appreciate it. // 9
Reliability & Durability: This guitar has withstood live playing. Of course pack extra batteries for the EMG's, but I have yet to have any electronic or hardware issues and do not forsee it happening anytime soon. I've always loved ESP's strap buttons, they feel solid and have this odd, wider than normal shape on the head of it. If you use good straps, it's a struggle to get them on and off of these buttons! Finish is definately high quality, will not wear off easily for sure. // 9
Overall Impression: Okay, I'll be honest- I saw pics of this guitar when it was first unveiled at NAMM and I really thought it wasn't for me. In pics, the finish looks faded and Hawaian shirt like. I hated the idea of the Slayer inlay and the Pentagrams, it seemed like a little too much for me. I'm not a die hard Slayer fan and felt no need to profess my love for them on stage. I went to the store with the intentions of buying either a Viper or another of the EC series, but after playing both of those models, I was very disapointed as they lacked the "feel" I was searching for(especially the Viper, not for me at all!). The sales guy told me he just received one of the Slayer guitars and he could bring it down for me, but I didn't even want to see it! I was sure I would hate it! After getting it in my hands, I realized how wrong I was. It was exactly the sound and the feel that I have been looking for. The graphics look amazing in person and the inlays are beautiful. The finsih reflects the lights on stage so well and really makes the guitar stand out. Everything is put together so well on this guitar that it really does not look cheesy like you might think. It's versatility and mojo were the big selling points for me, it just felt right. In the end, it doesn't matter if your guitar costs $100 or $1000. It doesn't matter if it has Custom graphics or if it is HOT pink! What really matters is how it feels and sounds to you. If you're comfortable with the feel of your axe and enjoy playing it, then you've gotten your money's worth. This is a high quality guitar made by a reputable company. In my opinion, it is a guitar made for not only fans of Slayer, but for guitarists who really want to add a secret weapon to their arsenal. This axe has no Floyd Rose and only two control knobs, but I would put it up against anything else out there for a showdown!
If it were lost or stolen I would buy another one, but with only 250 of them being made I don't think I'd have much luck! In a way I like that its so limited, feels like it was Custom made for me! Its sad to think of the misconceptions people are having of this guitar. I really hope that whoever buys this axe will actually play it and appreciate what it can do. It's not a gimmick folks, I have been playing for 11 years and trust me I know gimmicks when I see them! I have owned Gibsons, Fenders, Ibanez, Godins, Gretchs, Squiers, B.C Rich and Epiphones. My ESP/LTD Slayer 2011 is my absolute favorite that I have in my collection. If you find one, give it a chance and play it. I don't think you'll be disapointed. // 10