#1
Buckle up! First a quick review of this absolutely lovely ESP Horizon NT-II in Black Aqua loaded with Bareknuckle Aftermaths, followed by the last chapter in the 16-year-long saga that has been my search for guitar perfection.

Spoiler: it doesn't exist.

This model is no longer made so I had a hell of a time finding it it the color I wanted, but this particular beauty was forged in the Japanese fires of shred on Monday, April the 25th, 2011. It was the 4th guitar produced that day, so I'm betting it was finished before noon, at least so says the paperwork. Pics first, words later.







Righteous! Pardon the dust. The research and used-market scowering that lead me to this guitar all started in this thread after I bought a new E-II Horizon, pictured below, the guitar that was supposed to replace the Standard Series Horizon which is no longer made.




So! The gist of that thread is that the E-II didn't play what I considered to be "perfectly", so I sent it back and tracked down this Standard Series, which is supposed to be the ESP holy grail, shy of the custom shop and Original Series that is. Unfortunately, when I got this Standard Series it played waaaaay worse than the E-II; in fact, it even played way worse than my trusty old LTD MH-1000. But another outcome of that thread was my determination that a good set up was what these guitars really needed to become the actualization of guitar perfection I had in my mind.

I did some MORE research and ended up taking this to the same shop that Michael Angelo Batio takes his guitars in the suburbs of Chicago; the Music Gallery, home of one of the only PLEK machines (and techs with enough experience to use it) in the mid-western USA. I was so sure this was the answer I was looking for, but alas, $250 later and although the guitar played significantly better than it did before, it *still* had the buzzing here and there that I thought was unacceptable.

I had a long talk with the techs there, who also have worked on guitars for countless big names besides Batio; the lead guitarist from Survivor, Frankie Sullivan, was literally in the shop when I was there this afternoon. Their consensus was that this ideal of perfection, a guitar that plays flawlessly with every single note on every fret on every string ringing out truly and purely despite "shred-worthy" levels of low action, is simply an impossibility. The electric guitar is just too organic and mercurial to demand that kind of mechanistic precision. The techs who work on all these rock stars' guitars admitted there's just always some buzz to be dealt with if you want to play with lower action, and you have to decide where you're going to draw that compromising line for yourself; what gauge are you going to play, how low are you going to play it, how hard are you gunna pick, and what amount of buzz can you tolerate?

They really indulged my curiosity and invited me to play all the Fender Custom Shop, PRS Private Reserve, and Ernie Ball Music Man guitars they had in the store while we talked shop and passed guitars around, noting that each guitar had its own little quirky twangs and buzzes, while listening to the way different players brought different things out of the instruments. Each of the guitars was worth between $3,000 and $9,000. Today was a revelation for me, and they all laughed as they shared stories about times they had shelled out for multi-thousand dollar guitars and realized after the fact that the playability you can get out of a well-made $800-$1000 guitar that's got an excellent fret level done to it is about as good as you can ever hope to get in the "raw playability" category. The expensive stuff looks better, is better fit, balanced, finished, and made of more excellent tone woods that result in a better sound unplugged, and a far more appealing aesthetic presentation. But once you plug them all in and actually start performing?

Anyways, I could go on and on about this so I'll try to finish up. I've been playing for about 16 years now, and this was a huge step forward in my understanding of the instrument. I've been setting up my own instruments since I was a teenager, but I always imagined there was some "something" out there between me and this ideal of perfection, and if I could just find the right PRS that Paul actually inspected, or just the right ESP that the "real" Japanese luthiers made, I could achieve it. Nope! Just doesn't exist.

Below are some pictures of the ESP Standard which used to retail at around $2,000 when it was made, plus $300ish for the value of the pickups, plus $250 for the PLEK job, all next to the lowly LTD MH-1000 I got on eBay for $325, costing me about as much as the pair of chrome Bareknuckles in the ESP Standard. If 100% is the idealized level of perfect playability I dreamed of, this Standard Series is about a 95%, and the LTD is about a 90%. The LTD buzzes a bit more here and there, and its unplugged tone isn't quite as loud or rich, but the difference is pretty minimal. In fact, once I'm plugged in, the LTD sounds better to my ears because the Aftermath's are a little too dry and clinical sounding for my taste. Fear not: I've got some Holy Divers en route. The figuring on the Standard's maple is way better, but the LTD ain't too shabby looking either.





TL;DR - If the principle criterion by which you evaluate the value of a guitar is playability and plugged-in tone, buy a $1000 guitar used for $400-$600, plop in a well-made set of pickups, get it PLEK'd, and you'll be just about as well off as you can get in this life. If you want something else out of a guitar in addition to said qualities, pony up and enjoy yourself!

Guitars are great, and you don't have to spend a million to be happy with your main axe. I'll keep playing, buying, selling, and trading all levels of them 'till I'm dead.

Last edited by lumberjack at Feb 4, 2017,
#3
Beautiful axe score!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#4
Really enjoyed reading that.Interesting NGD and nice axe
#5
nice guitar, and a refreshing take!
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#6
That's a cracking guitar but your thread title doesn't really make sense ,

Regardless of whether or not it's used that's still an expensive guitar, you just didn't pay full price for it. Buying used makes a lot of sense with guitars, especially with more expensive ones as they depreciate a lot and are also more likely to have been looked after than a $200 beater - it's a lot like cars in that respect.

Also if I read this right in total you've spent close to a grand on that guitar, and I think it's totally worth it but again, $1000 is still what most people would class as an expensive guitar.
Actually called Mark!

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#7
Cool thread and I agree with you on most accounts.

I remember when Freddie and I chatted a bit a few years ago in a Sam Ash store. He is a great guy. We both agreed that a 50 watt marshall head and a BF fender super reverb could possibly be the best amps ever made. And everyone needs one of each.

I've got to get out to the music gallery.

Congrats on the ESP!
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#8
Price does not determine playability. My best playing guitar is one of my cheaper ones. I bought it used because of the playability but I still play my other ones guitars that play different make you play different. I really lie the look of the blue one with the blocky pickup covers.
#9
This WAS the key: "what gauge are you going to play, how low are you going to play it, how hard are you gunna pick, and what amount of buzz can you tolerate?"

I have a $200 Agile AL-2000 Floyd. It's a B Stock (finish issues) LP-style guitar with a 14" radius and 24 jumbo frets, all held together on a maple neck, mahogany body with what's probably the least expensive Floyd Rose clone around. Gary Brawer in SF tossed in on the PLEK and set it up for me. At the same time, he did a Gibson Axcess Custom (about $4K), wit a 12" radius, 22 frets, mahogany/mahogany, OFR. I like the action really low, .009's, and I pick with a Gravity Razer Standard, about 2.5mm.

The two guitars play identically aside from radius and neck shape differences. They both play exactly how I'd like them to, and I couldn't ask more. Whatever reasons I have for buying the most expensive guitar over the least have little/nothing to do with their playability at this level. But that's a lesson I learned long ago.
#10
Quote by steven seagull
That's a cracking guitar but your thread title doesn't really make sense ,

Also if I read this right in total you've spent close to a grand on that guitar, and I think it's totally worth it but again, $1000 is still what most people would class as an expensive guitar.


Not sure which guitar you're referring to; the LTD is about $800 new and I got it for $325 used, both numbers I'd consider affordable. The ESP Standard retailed for about $2000 new, I got it for $1350 used and put approximately $600 into it in pickups and setup afterwards, which I'll call "expensive". My 2 points in comparing them were that: 1) after spending that much more money on the ESP Standard, the guitars are still very, very similar in terms of playability and plugged-in tone, and 2) the major difference you pay for in the cost gap between affordable/expensive guitars comes down to looks, balance, fit/finish, name brand etc. not raw playability and tone.

For what it's worth, this is just the one instance of this dynamic that happened to bring it to my awareness, there are plenty of others; I have a mid-80's MIM Strat that sounds better than any USA-made strat I've ever played. I don't know why it sounds so good, and I don't care. It just does! There's tons of other examples I could draw from my personal experience; you can set up an SE PRS to play just as well as a Custom 24/22, or a decent Epi SG to play as well as a Gibson SG, etc. Finally getting my hands on this Japanese ESP and comparing it to its much cheaper counterpart (even after a PLEK) just happens to be the example that helped my dim-witted self connect the dots .
Last edited by lumberjack at Feb 4, 2017,
#11
Some people will never admit it, but it's obvious to many of us price doesn't always dictate playability or quality in some circumstances.

The Jackson DKMGT in my avatar is every bit the guitar my SL2HT is. That's $849 Japan made vs $2700ish USA made.
#12
Quote by steven seagull
That's a cracking guitar but your thread title doesn't really make sense ,


Also if I read this right in total you've spent close to a grand on that guitar, and I think it's totally worth it but again, $1000 is still what most people would class as an expensive guitar.


Not...most people. And not even remotely close.

That might be the case here on Ultimate Guitar, where there are a LOT of beginning guitar players, but if you'd walked through NAMM in January or even just the used guitar show in Orange County at the fairgrounds held around the same time, you'd know that $1000 is, at best, midrange or low midrange for most of the guitar world. Guitar Denters these days have walls full of cheapos in the electric section, but my Taylor 814ce was in the $3K range, my Axcess Custom was around $4K, the Taylor T5 was creeping pretty close to $3K, the Trussart I'm looking at is $5200, and Fretted Americana had a pair of Gibsons they're *still* trying to talk me into that are $8200 each ("I'll give you a great deal if you take both..'). I have seven Carvins -- there are some that are expensive, but I'd classify them as higher midrange. ESP just sent me a bid on a guitar they have available that will run nearly five figures to the left of the decimal point. The *real* PRS guitars are mid four figures. Suhrs can easily run $4K and up. Ditto Tom Andersons. A USA-made Variax will run $3K - $5K (the Koreans are in the $1000-1200 range, the single Japanese model below that). Danny Alcatraz can rattle off at least ten manufacturers who make over $3K instruments. I can supply an additional ten. Nik Huber's guitars can easily go above that point.

This doesn't even take into account vintage guitars, which are mostly ordinary production guitars that have pricing that's gone mental.







...And yeah, that last one is a real '59 Burst.
Last edited by dspellman at Feb 4, 2017,
#14
Tend to agree with dspellman here - the average UG user is not representative of the average guitar playing and buying demographic. I joined this forum as a cash-strapped teen just like most folks on here, and at the time I could barely scrape together $350 for a used guitar.

$1,000 is expensive when you're a 17 year old working at Dunkin' Donuts. I say so because I remember thinking $1000 was the most money I could Imagine spending on anything besides a car at that age, and I happened to be working at a Dunkin' Donuts at the time, which was actually a great job! I think most people use the word "expensive" to mean something excessive and/or beyond their budget; at 17 years old $1000 was more than expensive, it was unattainable. However, now that I can afford it, $1000 for a guitar seems a lot more normal.

"Expensive" might not have been the best word to use, now that I think of it. Now I think of ESP's from the Takada and USA custom shops as expensive, so if anyone wants to finance the *real* end of this story, I'll send you my paypal link. There's really only one way to settle this debate once and for all so please send approx $10,000 so I can get two. For science.

Quote by Ippon
Very nice review. Congrats!

BTW, what happened to your builds (GB&C)?


Ha! Nice to be remembered. I got offered a job at some guitar boutique in Europe as a designer/builder back in 2009, but I declined because I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I also ran out of money trying to finance that pursuit and had to sell my tools, so I haven't built in years. I've always wanted to get back to it though! I moved to a dinky apartment in Chicago, which is absolutely the worst; can't play loud, don't have a shop, don't have tools etc.

I've got some projects in mind though, and will definitely share them as they come along. Remember when Ormsby used to post on there? Look at him now! Damn, maybe I should have taken that job after all
Last edited by lumberjack at Feb 4, 2017,
#15
I'd agree that most people on UG aren't exactly normal ( ) dspellman, but at the same time I'm not sure those people you're hanging out with are either...
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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#16
This is how NGD threads should be done!
OBEY THE MIGHTY SHITKICKER
#17
Great review and story! Im always happy to see ESP NGDs

I've often wondered if instruments $2K and beyond really would ever be worth it to me. I really do end up only caring about plugged in tone and playability after a short while of owning an instrument. I saw Sanctuary a year and a half ago and talked to one of the guitarists afterwards. He was using just a basic white Schecter Hellraiser and he was making it sound like a million bucks.

My Schecter C-1 Classic is to date the best playing guitar I've ever touched. sadly the frets need some work. I'd almost consider driving/flying to Chicago to visit this Music Gallery place so they can work their magic!


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#18
Quote by dspellman
Not...most people. And not even remotely close.

That might be the case here on Ultimate Guitar, where there are a LOT of beginning guitar players, but if you'd walked through NAMM in January or even just the used guitar show in Orange County at the fairgrounds held around the same time, you'd know that $1000 is, at best, midrange or low midrange for most of the guitar world. Guitar Denters these days have walls full of cheapos in the electric section, but my Taylor 814ce was in the $3K range, my Axcess Custom was around $4K, the Taylor T5 was creeping pretty close to $3K, the Trussart I'm looking at is $5200, and Fretted Americana had a pair of Gibsons they're *still* trying to talk me into that are $8200 each ("I'll give you a great deal if you take both..'). I have seven Carvins -- there are some that are expensive, but I'd classify them as higher midrange. ESP just sent me a bid on a guitar they have available that will run nearly five figures to the left of the decimal point. The *real* PRS guitars are mid four figures. Suhrs can easily run $4K and up. Ditto Tom Andersons. A USA-made Variax will run $3K - $5K (the Koreans are in the $1000-1200 range, the single Japanese model below that). Danny Alcatraz can rattle off at least ten manufacturers who make over $3K instruments. I can supply an additional ten. Nik Huber's guitars can easily go above that point.
Of course there are crazy expensive guitars for people who want to spend crazy amounts on a guitar, but most guitarists are hobbyists and I really doubt any of those models are anything but an unthinkable extravagance for the vast majority of them. So yeah, even if "people" only includes guitarists, I do think most of them would consider a grand, at best, the absolute top end of what's reasonable to spend on a guitar Vintage, custom and generally high-end stuff is all marketed to a relatively small group of people with a lot of money that they're willing and able to spend on guitars. Whether that's because they're a successful musician, just have a large disposable income, or even just have a particular dedication to collecting guitars, none of those things are particularly common in the grander scheme of things.

All that said, that's a very pretty ESP, and it would be great to get some clips after you switch out the pickups
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#19
Yeah the "what's expensive?" debate, I would say that Dspellman occupies a smaller subset than he thinks he does. Number 1, you live around LA, if I'm not mistaken. For obvious reasons, there are probably a lot more high end guitars available and more people purchasing them.

I can tell you that most people in my area would definitely consider anything much beyond a grand to be pretty expensive for a guitar. I mean, most my guitars were in that range, and I have a prettt hard time selling my stuff locally because no one has the money to buy them.

I don't feel any kind of way about what someone considers personally expensive, and I certainly don't think it is unreasonable to purchase expensive guitars, but what you define as expensive greatly depends on what subset of the guitar playing population you occupy, and also what area you live in.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#20
Quote by dementiacaptain
Yeah the "what's expensive?" debate, I would say that Dspellman occupies a smaller subset than he thinks he does. Number 1, you live around LA, if I'm not mistaken. For obvious reasons, there are probably a lot more high end guitars available and more people purchasing them.

I can tell you that most people in my area would definitely consider anything much beyond a grand to be pretty expensive for a guitar. I mean, most my guitars were in that range, and I have a prettt hard time selling my stuff locally because no one has the money to buy them.


With any product, there are cheap, midrange and expensive models. By definition, "expensive" is going to be affordable by a smaller group of people. And what *you* consider expensive is going to be defined by the group of people you associate with and by your economic strat in your locale. If you consider only the very narrow bell curve represented by your local Guitar Splinter or mom and pop, $1000 might look like an expensive guitar. You illustrate that perfectly.

I grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, in the heart of the Midwest. There was exactly one Ferrari in the area and we all knew who owned it. If you put your feet up, drink in hand, at CUT at the Beverly Wilshire and just watch the parking lot, you'll believe that the cheap cars are the current production Audis, Lexus, Mercs, Porsches and the 10-year-old Ferrari 550's, 612 Scagliettis and five-year-old Rollers and Bentleys tossed by the valets into the underground parking. Middle level stuff are the production $100K - $300K Maseratis, Bentleys, Astons, production Ferraris, etc. And the higher end are the Koenigseggs, La Ferraris, McLarens, Chirons, Hueras and custom built Rollers. Across the street, on Rodeo, the parade continues. It's a different mentality in Lincoln Heights. It depends on where you're standing in LA. But looking at LA as a whole, both are represented.

In LA, there are indeed more high end (*and* low end) guitars available, as well as people buying them. Lots of $200 pieces as well. But within the entire industry represented by NAMM, the bell curve has the $1000 guitar representing low middle end. It's not remotely an "expensive" guitar.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Of course there are crazy expensive guitars for people who want to spend crazy amounts on a guitar, but most guitarists are hobbyists and I really doubt any of those models are anything but an unthinkable extravagance for the vast majority of them.


I certainly get what you're saying, but I wouldn't typify "most" or "crazy" except as observations from your particular economic viewpoint and physical location.

Manufacturers like PRS, Gibson, Suhr, McInturf, Tom Anderson, Nik Huber, Moonstone, Taylor "R", Collings, Trussart, etc., wouldn't have bothered to build guitars in the over-$3K to $10K range as *production items* if there weren't a very lively market for them. Suhr has its own PLEK machine and runs it correctly on each guitar that leaves its doors in Lake Elsinore. How many of the $1000 guitars you have experience with have done that?
Last edited by dspellman at Feb 5, 2017,
#21
Point taken, but perception is everything.

I'll agree with you that this site is more beginner-oriented than other forums, but I'd argue that it is closer to the majority of guitar players out there than, say, the Gear Page. I don't go there much anymore, but thats just my feeling of the vibes.

My point was more that the experience of most hobby guitar players is similar to your example of Dubuque or of mine for my area. If most people view a $1000 guitar as expensive, does it matter if in reality that is lower-mid end of pricing?

At this point we may be arguing different points, or I may have forgotten what my point was to begin with
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#22
If nothing else, we've learned there are multiple definitions of "expensive". Coupled with the fact that almost no-one anywhere has ever changed their mind after arguing about a topic on the internet, I think we can settle with simply having different subjective perceptions of what that means. Something I think I would still posit as objective is the reason I made this thread: you can get a $750 (and possibly much cheaper) guitar to play and sound as good as a $2000+ guitar, and I think we can all agree on that from experience.

Quote by SYLrules88
Great review and story! Im always happy to see ESP NGDs

My Schecter C-1 Classic is to date the best playing guitar I've ever touched. sadly the frets need some work. I'd almost consider driving/flying to Chicago to visit this Music Gallery place so they can work their magic!


Honestly I wasn't wowed by the work they did on the guitar. The player/guitar connection is a mystical thing, and I don't know that I felt a natural connection or "good vibe" with this guitar from the beginning, so maybe I shouldn't have expected that to change with a little fretwork. It can be so subtle; the way the weight is distributed, the neck angle and its dictation of bridge height, the way the body contours lay on your abdomen and alter the way the strap pulls on your shoulders, etc. all influence the way it feels, and those have nothing to do with the quality of the fretwork. As such, I wasn't as blown away by the whole PLEK thing as other folks on the internet seem to be. I think most people who bring a guitar in to get PLEK work done are bringing in an old favorite that they've played so much the frets are nearly in need of replacement, so when they get it back they're getting a guitar they already love, just in way better playing shape.

This whole process has made me a little more skeptically analytical, both of guitars in general and of internet hype about the PLEK as "be-all-end-all". It could be that I wasn't treated with the same deference as one of these rockstar dudes; the guy didn't ask to see me play, or what my goals were for the playability of this particular guitar, what I liked, what I didn't, etc. However, if you look up other people's PLEK service, such as Philtone Guitar Co. in Baltimore, not only are they more affordably priced for the same PLEK service, but it seems much more detailed and player-oriented than what happened to me and my guitar at the Music Gallery. I'm not *not* recommending you try them out, but if you're just a whippersnapper like me you might not get the kind of service those more reverend rockers are getting. Maybe dealing with those big names has eased them into driving up prices and not paying attention to no-name youngsters like me? Anyways, it plays way better than it did before, but just *barely* better than my LTD MH 1000 which has never had any fretwork done, so definitely not a mind-blowing experience.
Last edited by lumberjack at Feb 5, 2017,
#23
lumberjack

Agreed, the point is that whatever one considers expensive, you more than likely don't have to hit that mark to get a guitar that plays and sounds really good. To this day I've not played a Strat I liked better than my old MIJ "foto-flame"

My EBMM Silhouette is the best playing guitar I've ever owned or played, and it definitely isn't an extravagantly expensive instrument.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#25
Quote by chaosinsues5
What's up with the shine on that ESP board? Never seen ebony shine like gloss.


I assume they were buffed/burnished at the factory to a very smooth, high shine; both the E-II Horizon and this ESP Standard had super slick fingerboards, but they were still raw, unfinished ebony. Check that other thread I linked, the E-II ebony looked just like this one, which is interesting because the E-II was brand spankin' new and this Standard is 6 years old. I hadn't even oiled or set up the guitars when I took those pictures. Feels awesome for bends and vibrato.

EDIT: Seems to be standard fair for ESP guitars, you can see reflections in the fingerboard in this video from about 45s onward:
Last edited by lumberjack at Feb 5, 2017,
#26
Interesting.
I'm curious, are you a real lumberjack? I've worked in forestry and lumber mills for 30 years.
#27
Alas, I'm not - I thought it was a clever username eons ago when I joined because I called guitars "axes" more often back then.


I'm.... not known for clever puns.
#28
This is such truth!

I own a £2800 Mayones, and I've recently got a £200 LTD (albeit, in a sale, so RRP is like £350). While the Mayones is set up to perfection, and obviously the woods are insane and finishing is absolute perfection. As an instrument, as it's sole purpose, the Mayones definitely isn't £2,600 "better".

In fact, I've been looking for a new 7 string recently, and this post has reminded me not to bother spending £1000+ on something fancy, and just look at what does the job.
#29
It's hard to accept it the first time you drop big money on something. regardless of what people say, $1000 is a fair amount of money for a guitar. Especially if it's something that you don't make money from. The talk of 10k guitars etc, I'm only buying at that price if it's an investment. Exclusivity doesn't mean too much for me in all honesty, and places like TGP can turn instrument ownership into a pissing contest.

Buy guitars that make you happy to play, not guitars that only make you happy to show off the headstock.

Quote by dspellman



...And yeah, that last one is a real '59 Burst.


Aside from this one. Sell your house and buy this.
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If this even madkes sense... if yhou sig this, Iw ll kill you.
Last edited by cliff_em_all at Feb 6, 2017,
#30
Quote by cliff_em_all
Buy guitars that make you happy to play, not guitars that only make you happy to show off the headstock.


This is so true!

My mantra for buying guitars is. If it makes you want to pick it up and play constantly, then it's worth the price-tag.
#31
Quote by lumberjack
IAs such, I wasn't as blown away by the whole PLEK thing as other folks on the internet seem to be. I think most people who bring a guitar in to get PLEK work done are bringing in an old favorite that they've played so much the frets are nearly in need of replacement, so when they get it back they're getting a guitar they already love, just in way better playing shape. so definitely not a mind-blowing experience.


A PLEK machine levels the frets with better precision and less material removal than manual methods. That's pretty much all a PLEK job is supposed to do. Okay, and it's supposed to do it faster than a manual fret job, which it does. Once you've got truly level frets, it's still up to whomever is doing the setup to make the guitar a better playing instrument for a specific player. Before I handed my first guitar to Gary Brawer (tech in SF who's been a PLEK tech nearly since the beginning), he wanted to see how I played. He does the same with folks who are simply doing an initial setup without the PLEK. And he hands you the guitar and asks you to play it afterwards. It's partly this level of service that makes the difference between PLEK techs. The machine itself can often be biased one direction or another (it's just a computer-operated milling machine, after all) to affect how your guitar feels. If there's wiggle room to have the frets a bit lower in the cowboy chord area and a bit higher up the fret, you may find chording easier on the one end and bending easier on the other. Subtle, but only an experienced tech will know to consider this.

As an aside, we may be overusing the words, "I think that most players..." to describe what "most" players consider expensive, or what "most" players hand over to have PLEK'd, etc. There's no need to surround yourself with a pre-supposed and likely inaccurately supposed "consensus" here. Given the limited experiential level on this site, it may be overstepping to extrapolate.

In my first experience with a PLEK, I handed over a brand new Gibson Axcess Custom (~$4K) and a brand new Agile Custom ($1160 with case and shipping). Neither shipped with perfectly level frets and both were to have their frets superglued as well. Since, I've had $200 guitars PLEK'd, $1500 guitars PLEK'd and, recently, a number of guitars that are new to me (even if purchased used). The reason is that each has a consistent starting point of level fretwork that doesn't necessarily (or often, truth be told) exist when they first arrive. I've already been told it's idiotic to dump a couple of hundred dollars to have a guitar only worth a couple of hundred dollars PLEK'd. I would agree, except that I now have a $200 guitar that plays the same as my more expensive guitars. If I'm going to own a guitar, it may as well play great, regardless of its pricetag. Your experience with PLEK may differ.
#33
Quote by lumberjack

I've got some projects in mind though, and will definitely share them as they come along. Remember when Ormsby used to post on there? Look at him now! Damn, maybe I should have taken that job after all


It's funny that you mention Ormsby, given that I had no clue he used to post here and now I own one of his amazing GTR's, also, your whole post made me remember when I first joined UG and 800 dollars seemed like the ultimate budget goal for me
My gear:
-LTD EC401VF DMZ LD
-Ormsby Run 3 Hype GTR
-Yamaha C40M
#34
Quote by RiksRiks
It's funny that you mention Ormsby, given that I had no clue he used to post here and now I own one of his amazing GTR's, also, your whole post made me remember when I first joined UG and 800 dollars seemed like the ultimate budget goal for me


He used to post his builds in the GB&C forum! That's going back 8-10 years though, long before he was a well-known luthier. What a time to be alive; he was a god to us back then, and he's become such a phenomenal success. I still kinda want one of his guitars just for old times sake. Psh, I want one even if it wasn't for old times sake, they look like fantastic instruments
#35
Expense is relative, I guess, but you'd be surprised how many of those Ibanez Prestiges sell for a price that's over $1000. 

But is the price of some of those $2k+ guitars realistic? I have got to say no, because as mentioned in the excellent OP, there is a certain additional mojo and playability you get out of a guitar at a certain price point and then whatever additional money you spend gets you incremental gains, rather than exponential improvement.

That is, it may be better but is it $1k or $2k better? Surely more gains can be derived by putting that money into lessons and constantly practicing as opposed to getting a pimped out instrument. 

That said, people are willing to pay for them. And they're willing to pay that price because that incremental improvement in quality is worth the additional dollars that they spend. Not all of them are collectors either. 

And while we guitarists may think (and it's probably true) that we splurge a lot on gear, look at some of the other psychopaths out there - keyboardists, drummers, wind instrument blowers (hah). 

Some serious, serious money is spent on instruments. 
Strandberg Boden 8-String Ibanez RG2228
Fender HM Strat ESP Horizon-II Five-String Bass
Roland TD-30K Mesa Boogie Mark V:25
EVH5150III 50-Watt Yamaha Motif Rack XS
Access Virus TI Snow Polyend Perc Pro
#36
maybe some cream pickup rings for extra sweetness ?
so jealous rite nao
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