Price paid: $ 1386
Purchased from: a private seller
Sound — 8
With my band, we play aggressive death/thrash metal, but sometimes at home, I like to take it easier too. I play this through an Engl tube head with 4X12 cab and at studio, with Line6 PodXT. The guitar sounds great when experimenting with tones and it has lots of versatility, so you can play many styles of music with it. However, as the rather aggressive look of the guitar tells, it's mainly meant for heavier sorts of music. I wouldn't bee too disappointed even if the clean sound wouldn't be the creamiest in the world, I'm not too picky with it. For metal, this guitar is pretty much everything I need, so far nothing has bugged me with it. Maybe some day I'll replace the bridge pup with one that has got really high output, so I can take my sound to the extremes. But even as it is, the sound is crushing and the tone is superb. For softer material such as GNR etc, this guitar delivers it. By toying around with the guitar controls, you can already make big changes to the sound of the guitar, which is something I rather enjoy. Unwanted noise hasn't been a problem.
Overall Impression — 9
I'm a metalhead, I've played guitar for almost seven years now, and metalhead needs an instrument for metal. This guitar delivers what I need, and more! This guitar model is not available in United States, so for those people it will probably be bit more difficult to get hands on a Horizon FR-II. I've tried several other ESP Standard series instruments too, and their quality has really been overall great, a choice it's hard to go wrong with. If this one would end up stolen, I would probably get my hands on another ESP Standard series instrument, if Ibanez, Jackson etc. have still not come up with models that would compete with them in the same price range. Thing I love about this guitar are it's looks, it's sound, and the easiness of playing it. I chose this one because it's a quality instrument and I got it at good price, win-win situation. Anything I wish it had? Well, active electronics would maybe be nice, maybe I'll put EMG's or Duncan Livewire's in it and see how it sounds. Overall, great guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar has been gigged frequently, as it will be frequently gigged in the future too. The instrument is made of quality parts, and I don't see why the hardware or other parts of the guitar would not last. This guitar is pretty light, so it is a pleasure to play while standing up and on stage. I depend on this guitar with all my heart, but you never really know what will happen on stage, lot of things can go wrong when mr. Murphy shows up, so I will be keeping a backup with me just because I can. The finish seems like it's on that guitar to stay, I'm not an expert when it comes to finishes but it seems like it's pretty damn good. Reliable and durable guitar, as expected.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Don't know about the factory set-up, since I'm the second owner of this guitar. There are no visible flaws in the crafting, finish or hardware; which I think isn't a surprise since ESP has a reputation in making great quality guitars, the guitar has been rightly adjusted and kept in good shape by the previous owner.
Features — 9
This is an ESP Standard series instrument, Made in Japan 2004. It has 24 XJ frets, on an ebony fretboard. The neck is made of maple, scale 25.5, and it's shaped Thin U. Neck construction is through body, which makes it a pleasure to play at high frets. Body is made of alder, and it has a very beautiful quilted maple top, the finish is "see-thru black cherry". Both body and neck have white (well, a bit creamish) binding. This guitar has original Floyd Rose bridge, so keeping in tune isn't a problem, no matter how hard you divebomb. The pickups are USA-made passive Seymour Duncans, JB in the bridge position, and 59 in the neck position. The controls include 3-way pickup selector, master volume and tone. Tuners are japanese made Gotoh, solid quality. A roadworthy cool-looking ESP-case was included with the guitar.