#1
I've been playing the guitar for about 15 years and have bought and sold many guitars in that time, probably about 40-50 or so. I swore I would never do this, but yesterday for the first time in my life I bought a brand new guitar. Unlike the hoards of used axes that have made their way through my frugal fingers, I plan on keeping and playing this for many, many years.

Behold! The ESP E-II Horizon in Tiger Eye Sunburst!









It is an absolute dream come true for me. Like I said I've never owned a new guitar, but my first used one was an LTD Viper and I've been an unabashed ESP/LTD fanboy ever since, forever pining after the "real" ESP guitars actually made in Japan. Granted this isn't an Original Series, but it's as close as I can get for now.

I quickly set it up like I always do: minimal neck relief with ~1.4mm action at the 15th fret. Having played various models from LTD's 1000 series for the last 7 years or so, I had gotten so used to the sound your pick attack makes when there's a bit of fret buzz, as there was almost no way to avoid it with the low action I like. But suddenly everything sounded crystal clear through the amp, all my usual licks sounded more musical, more articulate, more pristine! At first I thought it was the pickups; it's been a few years since I had a guitar with EMGs, and my ears only really remember the 81/85 set. I had never tried the newer 57/66 combo, but then I started playing unplugged and as soon as I did I realized it had nothing to do with the pickups, it's that there was NO fretbuzz anywhere. My ears had become so accustomed to the "smack" sound that occurs when the fret work isn't quite perfect and your action is low. I'm sure many of you know the sound, especially in the 10-20ish fret area - it's not fret buzz proper, though it can morph into that with heavier picking on the wound strings, but a slight "wap" at the initial attack of a note on the unwound strings.

It was totally gone! Just glorious, chiming, bell-like purity on every note! I've never felt honest saying "it plays like a dream" but damn this thing does. What a time to be alive. I am in heaven and had to share. I'll post again in 15 years when I'm in heaven 2.0 and can afford to blow $5,000 on an ESP Original Series.

#3
Very pretty guitar. Congrats!

I'm surprised that out of the 40-50 guitars you've owned in the past you've never had one that had low action and no fret buzz. I have $200 cheapos that have been run on Gary Brawer's PLEK that exhibit those characteristics. As you've just found out, it's worth what you pay to have that kind of fretwork. It's not the wood, it's not the pickups (as you've discovered). It's the quality of the setup.

I've found that most of my used guitars have come from people who don't have a clue what a really good setup is and how much of a difference that makes. My first brand new guitars came from Carvin, which arrive at your door still in tune within a few days of leaving the factory, and they've routinely delivered "Action as low as 1/16th" at the 24th fret with no buzzing frets." So over time, I've taken the time to make sure that the used guitars I've purchased have received that kind of fretwork and setup, and out of over 50 guitars that have walked in my door, only a couple have ever left.
#5
Quote by dspellman
Very pretty guitar. Congrats!

I'm surprised that out of the 40-50 guitars you've owned in the past you've never had one that had low action and no fret buzz. I have $200 cheapos that have been run on Gary Brawer's PLEK that exhibit those characteristics. As you've just found out, it's worth what you pay to have that kind of fretwork. It's not the wood, it's not the pickups (as you've discovered). It's the quality of the setup.

I've found that most of my used guitars have come from people who don't have a clue what a really good setup is and how much of a difference that makes. My first brand new guitars came from Carvin, which arrive at your door still in tune within a few days of leaving the factory, and they've routinely delivered "Action as low as 1/16th" at the 24th fret with no buzzing frets." So over time, I've taken the time to make sure that the used guitars I've purchased have received that kind of fretwork and setup, and out of over 50 guitars that have walked in my door, only a couple have ever left.


Aye, I've definitely played a lot of guitars and I'm sure some of them played as nicely as this, but I'm thinking it's taken me this many years to realize and admit that the difference is as small as it is, and perhaps that it's taken this long for my playing to reach a point where the difference is worth the money to me. What I'm referring to isn't bonafide fret buzz per se, I've had pawn shop no-name guitars that were buzz free. Its this slight high mid-range wap/slap, and is much more abrupt than real buzz - it isn't so much an obvious accessory to the note like buzz is, but more like a quality of its attack. Not sure if I'm describing it adequately. I've seen it on high end guitars (PRS custom, USA Jackson, Ibanez prestige) as well as low.

Anyways, whatever it is, it's not to be found on this neck and I'm really diggin' it.
#6
HNGD! Horizons FTW!
ESP E-II Horizon FR
Gibson Flying V HET SET
ESP Eclipse II FM JB/Jazz
ESP M-II Deluxe EMG 81/SA
Marshall JCM2000 DSL/ JCM800 1960a cab
Tama Drums/ Sabian
#8
HNGD that is one beautiful quilt top, congrats
"A well-wound coil is a well-wound coil regardless if it's wound with professional equipment, or if somebody's great-grandmother winds it to an old French recipe with Napoleon's modified coffee grinder and chops off the wire after a mile with an antique guillotine!"
- Bill Lawrence

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#9
That's gorgeous, HNGD
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#10
Beautiful guitar! I am a fan of the 57/66 combo. Many congrats to you!
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#12
Quote by lumberjack
Its this slight high mid-range wap/slap, and is much more abrupt than real buzz - it isn't so much an obvious accessory to the note like buzz is, but more like a quality of its attack. Not sure if I'm describing it adequately. I've seen it on high end guitars (PRS custom, USA Jackson, Ibanez prestige) as well as low.


There IS another component that I've identified that's become part of my regular "new to me Good Initial Setup," and that's the contact level of the frets with the fretboard. I've been having the frets superglued. Originally, it was simply a way to keep from having flyaway frets crop up with climate changes, but I noticed that there's a difference in the clarity of attack as well. I went back to older guitars that had been built with glued frets (mostly Titebond) in addition to being pressed in, and those guitars exhibited the same quality. The methodology of supergluing the frets is simply to wick very thin superglue into the tang cavities, filling them and increasing the contact of the fret material with the fretboard. It's eliminated dead frets and (IMHO) made a difference in the tonal qualities as well.

Come to think of it, I've done one other thing in the last five years or so that seems to be making a difference -- I've switched to heavy acrylic-type picks (in my case, a 2mm pick made by Gravity Picks). Hmm.

In any case -- lovely looking guitar and I'm glad it's making noises you like.
Last edited by dspellman at Dec 29, 2016,
#13
That's a gorgeous guitar. Here's to many years of joy!
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#14
lumberjack

I like my action really low too, sometimes a bit of fret buzz cannot be avoided but it can almost be completely eradicated but not completely.
#15
Very NICE!!!
Guitars:
Jackson Kelly KE3 - MIJ (Distortion/Jazz)
Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
ESP E-II Eclipse Custom (JB/'59)
ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
Fender MIM Strat

Amps:
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Laney IronHeart IRT-Studio
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .
#16
That does look bloody amazing.

I have to agree with the comment about the strings being chocked out on the higher frets. My FGN is the same. Every note has loads more sustain and sounds just like all the other frets because the frets are properly level.
Quote by TheSennaj
And well yes, I'll enjoy the carpal tunnel and tendonitis, because trying to get one is clearly smarter than any word you have spoken thus far.
#17
Beautiful!

Looks defective though. I'll take that off your hands and dispose of it for a small fee
My God, it's full of stars!
#18
Good lord.

I've been looking at that same guitar in the same finish every time I browse sweetwaters website. As good as it looks in their HD pictures... your's is easily 100000 times sexier.
#19
That is a beauty. My problem is that I would be scared to use it. It is so very nice to get a guitar that works with a low action.

Quote by dspellman

I'm surprised that out of the 40-50 guitars you've owned in the past you've never had one that had low action and no fret buzz.It's the quality of the setup.

I've found that most of my used guitars have come from people who don't have a clue what a really good setup is and how much of a difference that makes..


I tend to be the same. I have bought used guitars for the same reason that I buy used cars..........another dint won't make me want to commit Hari Kiri. I have also found that many are sold because they really need a good setting up of the sort that that the regular person can't do. So it is quite enjoyable fettling a used guitar to make it worthwhile owning. And of course there is cost - I'd be frightened to death of using the OP's beautiful guitar. I buy new but inexpensive ones or costlier but used ones.
When the blue light flashes I am kidding.
#20
That's awesome bud. Your living the dream!
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#21
Nice guitar… totally not my kinda guitar, but I'd probably still give both my legs to get my hands on something like that. Hope it lives up to your expectations! Have fun with it!
#22
Quote by NewDayHappy
lumberjack

I like my action really low too, sometimes a bit of fret buzz cannot be avoided but it can almost be completely eradicated but not completely.


Yeah, as I futz with it more and play more/different things I'm noticing that it's still there on some notes, just less of it and in less positions compared to my other guitars. It was a little disappointing; I'm beginning to wonder if I'm asking the impossible from my idealized "number one guitar" in regards to action/playability?

I was basically hoping for a perfect instrument, and as I play this a little more and the warm fuzzy glow of the GAS honeymoon fades, I note that it's got some of the same gripes I had from the other guitars I own, just to a lesser degree, which is still kinda hard to swallow after paying what I did. I'm not a fan of Michael Angelo Batio anymore, but I remember going to see him do a guitar clinic about 8 years ago and I got to play his guitar which had just been set up for the show/session, and I remember thinking "what the hell this action is low and it's easy to play but the buzz is straight up bad" and then recalling that I'd seen a number of videos out there featuring virtuoso players where you could actually hear the string buzz picking up on room mics and such during their demonstrations. Do people just get over it and accept that in exchange for very low action even on very well made guitars? I've owned really nice guitars but not for about 5-6 years; I usually felt bad about having that much money tied up in one place so I'd move them on and have pretty much stuck to the sub-1k world since.

I hate to have posted this and been all rah-rah and now double back with a more conservative eval but I'm also a realist. This guitar definitely plays better than any I've got, but it's not perfect, and the difference between it's raw playability and the playability of my other LTD 1000 series guitars is maybe about... eh, 10%. It's immediately noticeable, but the difference is small. The difference in other areas is much more drastic; the fit, finish, balance, beauty, assembly, tonewood, etc. are all easily superior.

BUT I'm a playability/fretwork guy. That's my deal breaker - if a guitar plays well it finds a home in my stable. Do you guys with more experience in the nicer guitar realms want to chime in on the playability/fretwork of more expensive instruments and whether or not I'm looking for something that doesn't exist? I've owned stuff from PRS, Gibson, Jackson, and Ibanez's core/flagship lines but it's been years and I don't remember ever thinking "damn this guitar plays flawlessly". They always look great; the more money you pay the prettier and better sounding guitars tend to get, but after you hit the $800-$1000 mark I'm wondering if the diminishing returns in the pure playability/dollars ratio after that benchmark is just harsher than I remember. It's always been hard for me to evaluate this because I usually play 9s with very low action in E-standard with a very light touch due to some tendon issues I've developed from (surprise!) playing too much; few guitars are set up for that kind of play in shops, so it's been hard for me to get my hands on real "data" . This is compounded by the fact that I've gotten better and more picky as a player, so I might not have even been aware of this as much 5-6 years or so ago when I was playing nicer instruments more regularly.

Observations/experiences/insight welcome.
Last edited by lumberjack at Dec 30, 2016,
#23
Truth is, even Gibson & Fender have issues with their higher end models... Both my Gibsons & my standard strat all had to be setup and tweaked before they were playable. Absolutely blows my mind how a standard strat/les paul can come out of a factory with setups so bad, then make it past Sweetwaters 55-point inspection & then shipped to me. I don't know man. I've only been playing seriously for 7 years, so take what I say with a grain of sand. The only way to get the perfect setup is to do it yourself. It's easier than you think. Most guitar techs are stoned pothead high school drop outs with no future. Do you really want someone like that touching your brand new $1,500 guitar? The answer should be no. You are better than that. I am an average guy and I learned how to do my own adjustments through Dave's world of guitars & Woodeso on YouTube. Both of these guys have phenomenal channels. I practiced on cheaper guitars & had friends comment and say stuff like "wow, this setup is perfect.." It's really not hard man. It's really hard to fuck up in all actuality. If you have gone through so many guitars, something is wrong. It can't be the guitars, it's you. Especially with an E-II, I am a Gibson guy through and through, but I have played Eclipses before and they are extremely solid guitars, something is wrong on your end, not the guitars.
#24
Quote by NewDayHappy
Truth is, even Gibson & Fender have issues with their higher end models... Both my Gibsons & my standard strat all had to be setup and tweaked before they were playable. Absolutely blows my mind how a standard strat/les paul can come out of a factory with setups so bad, then make it past Sweetwaters 55-point inspection & then shipped to me. I don't know man. I've only been playing seriously for 7 years, so take what I say with a grain of sand. The only way to get the perfect setup is to do it yourself. It's easier than you think. Most guitar techs are stoned pothead high school drop outs with no future. Do you really want someone like that touching your brand new $1,500 guitar? The answer should be no. You are better than that. I am an average guy and I learned how to do my own adjustments through Dave's world of guitars & Woodeso on YouTube. Both of these guys have phenomenal channels. I practiced on cheaper guitars & had friends comment and say stuff like "wow, this setup is perfect.." It's really not hard man. It's really hard to fuck up in all actuality. If you have gone through so many guitars, something is wrong. It can't be the guitars, it's you. Especially with an E-II, I am a Gibson guy through and through, but I have played Eclipses before and they are extremely solid guitars, something is wrong on your end, not the guitars.


You may well be right, but maybe not - I used to build guitars, and did repairs and maintenance on electrics and acoustics for a living for a brief period. I've built and fretted necks and would like to think I know my way around a fingerboard and/or setup mechanics. Maybe not though! Everyone needs practice and I stopped doing that kind of work for money.

Perhaps the flaws I'm describing are sounding overly dramatic. My goal is finding a *perfect* fingerboard, so the discrepancies between that and the guitar I have here is pretty slim. I'd love a perfect axe, but on the other hand I'm willing to accept that getting flawless, buzz-free playability on every string in every position when your action is hovering somewhere around 1/16" might be an unreasonable goal. I guess I'm hoping someone can provide counter examples that will inspire me to keep hunting
Last edited by lumberjack at Dec 31, 2016,
#25
Quote by lumberjack


Observations/experiences/insight welcome.


I've posted mine.

These days it's rare to find guitars that come from the factory with glued, truly level frets. It's an extra couple of hundred bucks to get a really good tech to glue the frets and run a proper PLEK and set the guitar up to a player's spec. Most players won't pay that (most techs *can't* do that, frankly). They'd rather spend that money on pickups or a pedal or two. Most players, honestly, won't know the difference, and most players set up their guitars (if they do at all) using Kentucky windage. And for some, that's good enough.

Most factories do a casual setup before they send the guitar out; Gibson has, for years, cut their nuts a bit too high and told everyone that "best tone comes from medium action." By the time we get a guitar it's come 6500 miles from Asia, or it's been sitting around for eight months in a warehouse or, worse, on the wall of a brick and mortar. Not much wonder why it's out of rig (if it was ever IN rig).

It's probably unreasonable to expect that any guitar, no matter how "high end," will play as well as it possibly can after time and distance have worked it over.
Spend the money, get the work done and enjoy your guitar.
Last edited by dspellman at Dec 31, 2016,
#26
Quote by dspellman

Spend the money, get the work done and enjoy your guitar.


Thanks for the advice! I'll start poking around and see if there's a place near me where I can get this work done right.

EDIT: There's a PLEK in Chicago right near me! What luck. I'll post back with a comparison once I've gotten the work done if there's anyone curious.
Last edited by lumberjack at Dec 31, 2016,
#27
Quote by lumberjack
Thanks for the advice! I'll start poking around and see if there's a place near me where I can get this work done right.

EDIT: There's a PLEK in Chicago right near me! What luck. I'll post back with a comparison once I've gotten the work done if there's anyone curious.


Here's a caution: Work with the tech (a good one will suggest this anyway) to get the best results. Ideally, he'll want to know how you like your action and he may want you to play a bit for him (this will tell him how hard you grip things when you fret and what your picking is like). He may also want to know whether you spend a lot of time on the upper frets or the lower.

Here's the process for supergluing frets (before the PLEK job): http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Neck_Building_and_Repair_and_Setup/Super_glue_your_frets_for_better_tone.html A really good tech will probably already be doing this.

You may be able to see, on the monitor, where any leveling issues lie -- this is what the measuring part of the PLEK process is all about. There'll also be a *re* measuring process afterward, both done with strings at full tension. You should be prepared to hand him a set of new strings, BTW -- you don't want this done on old strings, and they should be the strings you ordinarily use (and, of course, in the gauge that you prefer). The PLEK process is precise enough that it could carve your name in the space between strings on the nut.
#28
I own that guitar except mine has the duncans. What a great guitar. Bought it about a year ago and gradually broke it in. Now I find myself playing it more than my Les Paul and Fenders. I like it because it is very comfortable to play and does more than one thing well. The Gibson and Fender do their things VERY well, but this one does more than one thing well and is comfortable. It has a streamlined design and is accessible all over the neck.
#30
a good set up is nice..a custom setup by a true tech is heaven..my new les paul classic came with factory set up..which some may find playable..I do a lot of chord work up the neck so very low action and clear true tone is a must..I am fortunate to have a shop in my small city that does work for many name players and groups..I met the tech that would be working on my guitar..told him exactly what I wanted and waited to have his feedback on what he would do exactly and did he really know what I want and need..and he said yes he did..and would rework it if it was not to my liking ...D scale from 17th fret to 22nd-pure and true..I would watch Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour play Les Pauls up the neck and evey note was clear .. so I know it can be done..just finding the right techs is the key...at least for me..yep it will cost .. but worth every penny
play well

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Jan 2, 2017,
#31
HNGD! That looks lovely, I was seriously looking at the old Nt-II model Horizon before they changed to having the EII series etc, and ended up with my Suhr instead.

Thats a lovely finish too
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