Price paid: A$ 800
Purchased from: Sams Discount Guitars Online
Sound — 9
I currently run a Peavey 6505+ 120w valve head through a Randall 4x12 slant cab with Celestions. I also run a TC G Major 2 effects porcessor. I play black/death metal and dark-country, and often have cause to use the clean channel as well as the ball-breaking Crunch and Lead channels on the Peavey. Previously I had given up hope of my amp offering any decent clean tones with my old ESP LTD MH100QM, but with the neck pick up on and a little tweak of the tone pot on the EC, this guitar sounds like it was made for jazz and blues. Switch the pickups to the 81 Bridge and crank the tone around to the top end and it's a beautiful full, powerful sound that alternates seamlessly between thick chords and ear-piercing pick sqeals. The range of this guitar, for the price and set-up, is amazing. The neck pickup is so rich and the tone knob, while subtle, is effective in taming the raging EMG for the clean, quiet measures. With both pickups on and a mid-range tone, it bleeds pure rock'n'roll. Full Bridge pickup and a strong lead channel and I challenge you to find a more evil sounding tone. Brutal, and not in a metalcore way - this is an aggressive, old-schooley black metal tone, with the advantage of a nice thick bottom end. I can play covers of Anaal Nathrakh and Iron And Wine on the same guitar and do not feel as if I am sacrificing any depth of tone at either end. Truly, a versatile guitar.
Overall Impression — 9
For what I play, I couldn't go past an Eclipse. I needed a guiitar that had classical sensibilities, accurate and easy action, innate beauty and yet could be relied upon to bring devastating tone and rich power chords, flying solos and handle the extreme levels of sound required to play serious black metal and aggressive death metal. Sure, an explorer-style or flying-v style seems an obvious choice for that style of metal, but I also wanted to be able to offer contrast in my playing, haunting cleans and clear, bright chords. For my price range the EC was it. I also wanted the PU toggle up where I could reach it, which is a small but important requirement! I have been playing guitar for 10 years, and playing metal for nearly all of that. Only recently have I been able to afford to upgrade my gear, rather than adapting to entry-level stuff. I also own a Yamaha Pacifica 912 (with Seymour Duncans) and an LTD MH100QM with one EMG in the Bridge position. This guitar is a cut above them, obviously. But I have also played Les Paul Standards, Ibanez RG series, Jacksons and PRS while shopping for an upgrade... And I still prefer the ESP. It may just be my style and my hand size, but this guitar feels like it was made for me. It may be too small for someone with giant spider hands, but for me it is perfect. It complements my style, but is versatile enough that when I feel like chilling out and playing some acoustic/clean jazzy country stuff, I don't need to change guitars. If I'm pressed, a seperate tone knob for each pickup would have been grand, but seriously, for $800 I still feel like I ripped ESP off.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar is built to shred, no doubt about it. I would hazard a guess that scratches will show up on the body, if its abused enough to be allowed to get scratched! The gloss is nice and thick and quite hard, so I imagine it would resist easy damage. Aside from the possible perils to the gloss, the fittings are bomb-proof and I have absolute confidence in the hardware. EMGs are the best, as long as you keep an eye on battery life before a gig. I would gig with this without a backup. Locking tuners mean quick string changes if needed, though I'd prefer not to have to.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The EC was set up so sweet out of the box I still feel as if I'm trying one in a store and will have to put it back on a shelf! So far, pickups are adjusted fine. Action is beautiful, but may need to be adjusted as the strings stretch as it is about as low as it can go without buzz. The finish on the guitar makes my eyeballs bleed with it's beauty. The black piano-gloss is flawless, and seems resistant to smudging. Will take more to keep clean than a flame maple or satin finish black, but when it's clean it's a sight to behold. The abalone selected for the inlays and binding is tasteful, offers a nice Spectrum of pearly shades. The fret wires and binding/neck wood are well machined and flawlessly joined. The only criticism I can make, if I must, is that the body finish and inlays/binding are so beautiful that the only raw wood on the guitar, the rosewood fretboard, looks somewhat mediocre. A little eucalyptus oil on it may make it glow yet though. All the fittings are firmly bolted on, plenty of play in the knobs and Switch without any latent looseness or vibration.
Features — 10
I own the 2011 EC-1000BLK Model, made in Korea, QC'd in USA. 24 XJ Frets, solid top, set mahogany neck, mahogany body, black piano-gloss finish. Abalone bindings, all the way up the neck and headstock, and abalone ESP flag inlays. LP-style single cutaway, 3-way selector above neck. Active EMG 81B-60N pickups. 2 volume knobs, 1 tone knob. Gold ESP locking tuners. Gold Tune-o-matic Bridge and tail. Came with SIT strings, which while not my preferred brand, were still in tune after travel from US to Australia. I'm rating this a 10 because a feature list and picutres online simply do not do this guitar justice. I have played EC1000s in Australia in the shop before I decided to buy, and none looked as good or sounded as sublime as this - for under $1000.