Price paid: € 340
Purchased from: The American Guitar Store
Sound — 8
I bought this guitar about 2 years ago, so I had the time to test out the sounds I could get from it. I mainly play metal with an occasional clean bit here and there. Not only the looks are metal, the sound is very decent to. I play it through a Coxx 40 watt amplifier and a Behringer Ultra Metal UM-100 and it sounds like a raging beast. It gives a nice solid and clear sound with the minimal amount of background noise. Playing it through a golden cable eliminates all noise. With some tinkering around with the settings I get a really full but bright sounds, exactly what I'm looking for.I'm in a band and the other guitar player has a Ibanez XPT 700 but my guitar can hold it's ground next to it. I've also played it through a Hartke GT60 4x8 Piggyback Half Stack but also a Line 6 POD X3 connected to a Roland cube and it always sounds great. I prefer the bridge pickup to the neck pickup for playing distorted, because the neck gives a more fat and meaty sound which is not what I like in terms of distortion. The clean on this guitar is also really nice if you use the neck pickup. Using the bridge will create a somewhat "plastic" and fake sound, but using the neck pickup gives you a full and thick clean which sounds really nice. Not much more to say here. I will be swapping the original pickups for some EMG's because I like the sound of those active puppies better, but the stocks aren't all that bad.
Overall Impression — 8
My overall impression? OMFG, that thing is great! I mainly play metal and it does right that. It always hit's the sweet spot. It looks killer and it plays even better. I have to confess, I bought this guitar after seeing it on the ESP site and just falling in love with it's looks and I never tried it out. I can only say that it was a choice I can never regret. I have been playing for 2 years and I don't have the best gear, but this guitar just makes it sounds great. If someone was evil enough to still my guitar, I would buy a new one the very next day. I have had the chance to compare it with a Jackson and 2 Ibanez guitars (I own 1 myself) and those guitars just weren't any competition. So again, I would buy another one. I wished it had some EMG's in it as stock pickups, but you can't have everything. Also, maybe some other inlays then Standard dots would have been nice and could have maybe added to the metal feeling of the guitar, but it isn't that much of a deal, because everything else that is one the guitar makes up for it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The guitar is very durable, except for the finish. Although it is now 2 years later, the satin look of the guitar has certainly worn off. It looks dirty, but it's just a bit of glossy black mixed with some satin. The screws used are also looking a bit rusty and need to be replaced, it's not a big deal, but it is a bit of a waste. But these are about the only 2 things that are not looking all to good after 2 years of use and abuse. It has some natural wear and tear like little bumps, but there is no paint missing, which means it is quite sturdy. Would I use it for a Live performance? Definitively! It's a great guitar which will easily survive many gigs. You have to smash it into the audience and then jump on it to scratch it. The hardware hast lasted so far, with only a slight crackle in the volume knob which was fixed by simply opening the back and touching the wires once or twice. Except for that, not a single problem what so ever. The straps are positioned perfectly and very solid so there are no worries about the guitar ever falling. I would use it without backup no problem, I trust that monster!
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I can't be sure whether the guitar was set-up great at the factory or that the store set it up before they send it off to me, so it's hard to say anything about it. When I got it the action was a bit high at the end of the neck (and it still is), but the intonation and everything else was about perfect. Pickups where about the right height and needed almost no adjusting. The finish was (with the emphasis on was) perfect and so contained no flaws and everything looked just perfect. I'm giving it a seven because I can't be sure about some things whether they were done in the factory or at the store.
Features — 8
This guitar was made in 2006, the year all was good and pretty. There are two differences that I need to point out between my version and the 2008/2009 version (not sure whether there is a difference with the 2007 version) currently on sale. First off all, the type of wood for the body is different. The 2006 version has an agathis body while the 2008/2009 one has a basswood body. Second off all, the pickups are different. Instead of the ESP LH-150 the current version has my guitar has the LH-100. I do not know whether there is a significant difference between them. As I said before, it was made in 2006 and it was manufactured in Indonesia as are many lower end guitars. It has 24 X Jumbo frets and a 25.5" scale. The body is made of agathis and the neck is Maple and is bolt-on. It has a nice thin you contour neck which allows perfect gripping and a good reach at all strings. The body is also cut out low enough to reach all of the 24 frets perfectly, except for the low e which can be a bit of a hassle, but not all to much. The neck is Rosewood. I have the black satin finish but it is also available in silver. The body has a, in my opinion, amazingly cool looking AX type body. Everything about the body screams metal all the way. It also has a Tune-O-Matic bridge and features String-thru body. The pickups are ESP LH-100 in neck and bridge position. The pickups are passive. Controls given are Volume, Tone and a 3-way selector. The Tuners are Non-locking and made by ESP. These are about all of the features of the guitar.