Price paid: C$ 429
Purchased from: Steve's
Sound — 9
I play this guitar through a Roland Cube 20X. At first, I had doubts about the LH 150 pickups since ESP puts these in their entry level LTD models. But after playing for a little while, I was really impressed by the high quality of the pickups. What I like the most is that chords sound very defined when played with distortion, not muddy at all. I find the pickups slightly bright sounding. This guitar is very versatile, I play a little bit of everything but mostly metal and blues, and I can obtain a lot of tonal variety to play different musical genres. I like using the full humbuckers when playing metal and rock, and Switch to single coil mode to play blues or to play in the clean channel. ESP did a good job with the shielding and electronics on this model. My other guitar, a beginner Strat copy, gets really noisy when I connect my amp to my computer to play along with songs.However, the EC-256 is pretty quiet.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for two years and this is my second guitar. I was looking for a guitar to play metal rhythm but that was versatile enough to play other genres such as blues and funk. When it comes to versatility, this guitar delivers. It handles a variety of musical genres well. And as I said before, the coil tap gives you additional tonal options. The EC-256 is an upgrade from my beginner Strat copy, so I am glad that I don't have to Switch guitars to get single coil sounds. I chose this guitar because I love the look of Les Paul guitars but do not like the heavy weight or the thick neck. This guitar has a thinner lighter body and a thinner neck than a Les Paul. It also has a sharper cutaway giving this guitar a more aggressive and modern styling, which I personally prefer. Therefore, this guitar was what I was looking for, and it also fit my budget. Access to the upper frets is decent, but not great. If you are a lead player that uses the high frets frequently, you should keep this in mind, and perhaps consider other guitars more suited to your playing style. The only fault I find with this guitar is that the neck edges are a bit sharp. I wish the neck edges were rounder and smoother. This guitar is a very good value for the money. You get nice features such as mahogany body, set neck, flamed maple top (If you get the Aged Honey Burst version), solid sounding stock pickups, and a coil tap. I would definitely buy it again if it got stolen. If you have a tight budget and you are looking for a versatile fixed bridge guitar, the LTD EC-256 is a great option.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have had this guitar only for four months, thus, I cannot comment yet on its long term durability and reliability. Also, I play guitar as a hobby and I have not played any gigs with this guitar. However, it seems sturdy enough to withstand live playing. The bridge, tuners and especially the strap buttons look solid, and I imagine they will last a long time. One time, I hit the headstock against a desk, and the neck pickup came loose inside its cavity. I just pushed the pickup down until it was sitting tight again, and problem fixed. Also, the guitar fell once from its stand and no damage was done. Since the finish has a worn appearance from the factory, I would not worry about scratches and dents. They will likely blend with the factory wear marks and contribute to the aged worn look.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I had this guitar set up professionally at the store so I don't know how the factory set up was. The action can be set low with no fret buzz. When I first took the guitar home, the pickup selector Switch had a problem; the middle position which selects both pickups at the same time was not working. I had to open the Switch cavity on the back, and then bend the two Switch contacts closer together, so the Switch could touch both contacts. Although it was an easy fix, I am deducting a couple of points since this is not something you are supposed to do with a new guitar.
Features — 10
Single cut/Les Paul shape mahogany body, set neck, rosewood fingerboard, flamed maple top, aged honey burst satin finish, fixed Tune O - Matic bridge, ESP tuners, 22 extra jumbo frets, 24.75 Scale, two ESP LH150 passive humbuckers (Coil Tapped), 3 way pickup selector, two volume knobs and one tone knob (with push pull coil tap). Made in China. The coil tap is a feature that allows you to split the two humbuckers into single coil mode, which doubles the tonal options available. The neck has a thin U profile, which is thinner than a Les Paul neck. It has a satin finish that feels really smooth. There is a slight contour on the back of the body that makes the guitar feel more comfortable when you play sitting down. Regarding the finish of the guitar, it has an aged worn look with a satin finish. The aging does not look very authentic, but I expected this for the price. The factory aging consists of some wear marks in front and back of the body, and the headstock. Also, the neck biding has a worn appearance. The level of aging varies depending on the color version you choose. I have also seen the Aged Vintage Gold version, and the aging was a lot more intense, it had more and bigger wear marks, and the guitar looked a lot more beat up. I have not seen the Aged Vintage Black in person, so I cannot comment on that one. Another thing to consider is that the aged honey burst version has a maple top, while the other two versions do not have one. Keep this in mind if you care about the tonal differences caused by wood types. The guitar gives you great flexibility to adjust your sound using the available control layout, but a second tone knob would have been nice for even more possibilities.