A-I[arc] review by ESP

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (15 votes)
ESP: A-I[arc]

Price paid: ¥ 588

Purchased from: COSMO GAKKI

Sound — 10
I play metal, j-rock, thrash metal, industrial metal and even grunge and this guitar can play all these styles (and many more)with quite ease. I played it though big Marshall JVM-205C amp and the sound was rich, clean and overall, it was excellent. The pickups are noisy but just a little so they add more crunch on the sound actually, making it actually better. This guitar plays great on overdrive and I'm running it mostly through my Roland guitar synthesizer pedal but when I want a classic metal sound (such as Black Sabbath for example) it plays great through my amp. This guitar is good on Drive but it changes completely on clean mode. On clean, you fell like you have a completely different instrument, on clean the sound is very rich and warm giving this amazing feeling that you actually have an acoustic guitar on your hands, chords are clean and crispy and you can go for a huge variety of sounds on clean, from Iron Maiden's "Fear Of The Dark" clean parts to bob Marley songs, David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and even classic Spanish ballads, making this guitar an ultimate on sound.

Overall Impression — 9
For my huge musical variety, this guitar is great, I've been playing guitar for many years (8 years) and many guitars passed through my hands but this, this I think is the BEST guitar I own. This guitar is complete beyond belief and the only competitor for it, is the Moog guitar (witch I also own). If it were stolen, I'd probably hunt down the thief and beat him up, if it were lost I'd just go straight back ti japan and get another one. The only thing that I wish this guitar had is a Kahler Pro tremolo since the Floyd Rose isn't that good for that guitar. Overall this guitar is so good that few can compare to it and if you are interested in j-metal or just want a very cool instrument that's also very versatile, you should go and get one, every good guitarist deserves it. Video from YouTube:

YouTube preview picture

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar is the one I've been using for all my lives for 1,5 years, it's durable, stays in tune very good and has rich sound that really makes peoples head turn on the stage. This guitar also came with strap lock (huge plus, since even my Dean Dime From Hell didn't come with strap locks). Despite these fact's I always take my trusty Dime from hell as back up, since I could never depend on only one guitar (not even this one). The finish (black satin) is god-like and I'm in love with it. It's great, it keeps dust and fingerprints off the guitars body and gives it that distinct aggressive satin that most metal guitarists like.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was adjusted from the technician in the store before I got my hands on it, so I got it in top notch condition. The truss rod was set very good and the Floyd Rose was also set very good. The pickups were a little low for my style but that was easy to adjust, so I didn't yap much about it. The actions was low throughout the neck, and there was no buzzing at all, chords are played easily on it's beautiful ebony fingerboard and shredding was never easier before, the only thing that bothered me was the bridge though. Since all of my guitar have either Kahler tremolos (a 1000 times better) or are string through, my first experience with a Floyd Rose was rather frustrating than pleasant and I found my self tuning my guitar every 15 minutes of playing. So I just locked and stopped messing with it.

Features — 9
So, the ESP A-I[arc] 艶~en~ (aka ESP A-1)... Strange guitar and quite obscure as it is a rare instrument and these days tends to go for crazy prices on auction sites and even some few musical equipment stores. Mine was made in 2007 and is the most Elite model (an exact replica of Aoi's guitar). It's has a mahogany body (solid top) and comes in a lovely black satin finish, preventing it from being a big dust magnet (like many guitars). The neck has 24 frets with a fantastic quality ebony fingerboard (but with no inlays). The neck is made of hard maple and is very fast too, so you can play all these amazing metal solos you'd play in such an instrument of catastrophe like this. The body-style is very interesting having characteristics of your ordinary ESP F-series but also with only one cut-way. The bridge that comes with the guitar is your standard Floyd Rose tremolo which works fine with squeals, dive-bombs and even rage against the machine tremolo solo's. The pickups are 2 Seymour Duncan Antiquity II and they also sport a special switch to shift from the humbucker mode to having single coils (each humbucker consists of a HOT rail and an ordinary single coil for added variety). The guitar also sports black Gotoh locking tuners and the nut on the neck is locking (obvious since the guitar has a Floyd Rose as a bridge) for maximum reliability. The guitar also came with a nice hard case, which is very durable and even a number locker (like a suitcase), also you get inside one very rare "the GazettE" pick. Overall very good.

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    That's one of those guitars that pushes the ugly envelope right round back to good looking
    That looks like a bitch of a shape to play sitting down. Still pretty neat though, J-metal/rock is epic, Guitar Wolf and Loudness all the way!
    elias van sider
    Indeed...this guitar is meant to be played with the guitarist standing up, but if you are short it's actually very comfortable.
    I believe this guitar would be mostly for a band that is looking for a theme or a certain look.
    WHAAA.....?! I'm just suprised that you play 'such' things like Iron Maiden with this beauty :O. No offense ofc :x. Really unique guitar. It's totally worth this fortune. I'm considering getting it one day when I'll have to much money and some real recording possibilities. You can really get magical tones out of it, that's for sure. I won't debate on your own personal taste, but Kahler trem on this?? Aren't you going too far? You could get pretty much any guitar(custom or stock) with this amount of currency; so be happy with it ;D. If it's going out of the tune it is NOT setted up well. I have no idea who set it up- that's just my point of view. ...Now after I read that, I want an ESP again.
    I'm usually a fan of ESP guitars.. but that body shape is definitely out there.