Price paid: $ 700
Purchased from: Amazon
Features — 10
This guitar was made in 2015 in China but is inspected in the USA. you will not be disappointed with the quality at all. It has 24 Extra jumbo frets, a 25.5 scale, rosewood fret board. The body is made out of Mahogany and the neck 3 piece maple. This guitar is a set-thru setup. The finish is gloss black, which is the only color available as of right now. This guitar has a very metal looking body style, much like the V cut series but more aggressive looking IMO. The bridge is non other than a Floyd Rose Special. The pickups are active EMG 81 and EMG 85. The controls include one volume and a 3-way tone switch. The tuners are locking since it has a Floyd Rose. I got the guitar as a kit from Amazon, so it came with a great deal of accessories. This includes a whammy bar, gig bad, strap, picks, guitar stand, digital tuner, and 10 foot instrument cable. Huge bang for your buck purchase. I got an amazing deal, $125 less than what amazon is advertising!
Sound — 10
EMG pickups are some of the best sounding pickups you can buy, especially for playing metal. The ESP Arrow-401 has both of these amazing sounding pickups in it, the EMG 81 and 85. Naturally, that means this guitar sounds amazing. The EMG 85 allows for deeper, tones perfect for soloing/clean riffs. The EMG 81 allows for brighter metal soundsing riffs. I love the way this guitar sounds. Since the ESP Arrow-401 is SET-THRU body (similar to NECK-THRU), this allows the guitar to have good sustain. My Jackson RR24 is NECK-THRU which is supposed to be better than SET-THRU, but I honestly still think that the ESP Arrow-401 has better sustain than my Jackson RR24 which is neck-thru. The setup that I use is a Peavey 6505+ with a Marshall cab with no effects for shows, and a little Line 6 for practicing/writing. You will not be disappointed with the sound of this guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
This guitar plays perfectly. I am very much impressed by how the guitar feels, you just want to/have to play it fast. In fact, it plays almost exactly like my RR24, better even. The action is very low without causing buzzing on the frets. I play in D-Standard/Drop-C tuning (DGCFAD/CGCFAD). It's a very popular tuning for metal. With this specific tuning, you have to adjust the guitar to accommodate for the different tension on the strings. This guitar comes adjusted for E-standard tuning, meaning that the strings have much more tension on them. All I had to do was remove the middle Floyd Rose spring, and tighten the two screws stretching the remaining two springs a little bit at a time until I got the action as low as I could without causing buzzing. Some guitars buzz very early in this adjustment process making the action really high off the fret board. That severely affects playability in a negative way in my opinion. The ESP Arrow-401 adjusts so that the action is very close with zero buzzing allowing you to play fast riffs with a relaxed/light hand.
It is absolutely perfect for fast rhythms, and soloing. The Floyd Rose Special is another huge sales point for this guitar. After owning a guitar with a Floyd Rose, it's hard to want anything but a Floyd Rose. The locking tremolo means that your guitar will NOT go out of tune, even during transportation. With a Floyd Rose, you have the option to adjust the action easier as stated above, you can fine tune the guitar much easier, and you can use a whammy bar. Who doesn't like to play around with a whammy bar? Another great feature this guitar has is that it is extremely light. The shape of this guitar saves a lot of weight. It also is perfectly balanced, that is, if you are standing and using a strap, you can take both hands off the guitar and it will NOT drastically shift position on you. This is huge for me. When I play shows, I hate when a guitar is unbalanced, heavy, and clunky feeling. For those of you used to playing traditional shaped guitars, you may have a bit of adjusting to do playing this one sitting down. You will get used to it eventually. I think that the ESP Arrow-401 is perfect feeling in every way.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have only had it about 2 weeks, but it feels better than my Jackson RR24. That is saying a lot. I have been playing my RR24 exclusively since 2007. Everything on this guitar feels of great quality, I would trust this guitar at a show 100 percent. The hardware is solid construction. The bridge is Floyd Rose Special, so you know that is of great quality. I think the strap buttons would hold up just fine. However, I like having strap locks, so I switched mine out the day I got the guitar. The finish is great, it seems like it will last for quite a while. The only problem is that gloss black is hard to keep clean, and that is the only color available for this guitar at the moment. This guitar also has some edges that stick out just asking to get bumped, whacked, nicked, dinged, etc. SO keep that in mind when handling this instrument.
Overall Impression — 10
Never thought that I would say it, but I think that I have found a guitar that I like more than my custom Jackson RR24 which I have been playing since 2007. The ESP Arrow-401 not only looks better, and has more options for tones due to the extra EMG 85 pickup. I still can't believe it, it even plays better than my beloved Jackson RR24, and for much less money. My RR24 was $1300 for the guitar alone not including the custom paint job. A lot of the cost difference is because the RR24 has an ebony fret board, neck-thru, and has an alder body. The ESP Arrow-401 is cheaper by about $500-600 depending on if you bought the guitar alone or as a kit. The take away at the end of the day is that the guitar is absolutely amazing and worth every penny. I wish more guitars were built with this level of precision and quality especially considering the price. 100 percent happy with my purchase!