LTD AW-7 review by ESP

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.3 (6 votes)

Purchased from: Private Sale

Features — 7
This is Alex Wade (Whitechapel)'s signature seven string guitar, made at World Music in Korea in 2012. It features:

- A 3 piece maple neck through body with a 25.5" scale
- 24 Jumbo frets on an Ebony fretboard 
- Mahogany Wings 
- Flame Maple top
- DiMarzio D-Activator 7 pickups
- Volume, Tone, 3 Way blade switch
- ESP Locking Tuners
- Flatmount bridge (a Hipshot flatmount copy, which I subsequently replaced with a real Hipshot)

All in all, a very solid guitar featurewise, if a bit unremarkable. Nice to see passives on a seven string guitar that isn't Ibanez, especially name brand pickups.

Sound — 9
This guitar sounds absolutely huge, but is still defined even in low tunings (I've gone down to drop Ab). The D-Activators are very, very nice. The bridge is quite tight, with plenty of chunk and grind. The neck pickup is very bright (admittedly, too bright for some) and makes for excellent cleans and solos without any mud at all. It's also dead quiet, thanks to the excellent wiring job done by World. I use it with both Peavey Revalver through my Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 interface and with a Peavey 5150 half stack. It's probably my favorite 7 string in its price range sonically.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I can't comment on the factory setup, since I bought it used, but the guitar is otherwise flawless. I have never played a dud ESP due to their great quality control, and this guitar reflects that. The frets are well crowned and polished and bend smoothly and effortlessly. I have the action set quite low with no fret buzz, which stands to demonstrate a good fret job. The nut is not perfect, but it is pretty good - it could be ever so slightly lower. Gets a couple of points of for that, because the intonation isn't great on the lower frets because of that.

Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is rock solid. The hardware is good quality. ESP makes good stuff, even the low end units. I bought the guitar used, and the previous owner had swapped the original strap buttons for Schaller straplocks - the button on the horn kept working loose, but I can't ding the manufacturing quality for that. I would never EVER gig without a backup, because Murphy's Law applies to guitars at a very high rate. The guitar is well built though. The fretboard had seemed to shrink a bit before I owned it and the frets slightly poked the finish on the edge of the neck. Again, can't really ding for that.

Overall Impression — 9
This guitar, is, of course, meant for extreme metal, and it accomplishes that very well. I wouldn't say it can do too too much else though, at least not with stock pickups. I traded an LTD H-1007 (also very nice, but I wasn't a fan of the EMGs) for it and I am very satisfied with what I got in the trade. Were it stolen, I would likely buy it, or another LTD seven string model, again. I love the pickups for extreme metal, and the ebony fretboard is just a joy to play on. That said, I wish the neck was ever so slightly thinner. It's a big neck for a 7 string.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Alex Wade (Whitechapel)'s signature ..??? the guitar may be great but that tone in the Dimarzio video is just MUD.... I sure hope the guitar gives better sound that that guys tone in the video,.. he sounds better here
    Lol, extremely doubtful that they used this guitar on the record. Also everything about this guitar is obviously marketed at noobs.
    You have to consider an album version is going to (most likely) have a good amount of post production on it. Not saying that they couldn't have done that on a video, but based on the tone differences, I'm sure that's his unprocessed sound.
    You have to consider that a video's to promote the pickup and they sound like mud, i was abit shocked how sh#%t it sounds..
    I really wonder why so many manufacturers are relunctant to make seven stringers with passives....
    DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan both make passive 7-string pickups. That said, I'm sure most guitar manufacturers think 7-string guitars are "made for metal". Also, it's worth noting that it's fairly easy to tweak the tone of a passive for Jazz or Blues or whatever. You just have to turn down the distortion and adjust a tiny bit.
    Eh, the D-Activators don't do anything other than metal that well. I might swap them out for some Bareknuckles at a later date.
    Plus, in my experience (I've owned 4 or 5 guitars with EMGs stock) actives sound like ass outside of Metal. Way way way too much compression.
    Wat? I see lots of passive 7-strings around. LTD generally seems to like actives, but Schecters altogether are around 50/50, Ibanez makes a lot of 7-strings with passives, many 7-strings I've seen by other companies (e.g. Music Man's JP models, including the new Majesty) are passive. I find it far harder to find a 7-string guitar with Blackouts (EMGs appear a lot more often) than with passives, which are common.
    Signature guitar for member of a band that needs three guitarists to play palm muted power chords. Hell bottom of the barrel.