Price paid: $ 689
Purchased from: Music Mart
Sound — 10
I run this guitar through a Peavey 5150 (block letter) with a Peavey XXX 412 cab and an Electro-Harmonix Holiest Grail reverb. The sound is about what you'd expect of such a setup. The active EMG 81/60 pickups absolutely scream. Even with massive amounts of distortion you can hear each note ring out crystal clear. This guitar was made for metal, but the EMG 60 in the neck can produce excellent, bright and snappy cleans (albiet they aren't the cleans for everyone) and when run through my Fender Hot Rod De Ville 410, I can get some really clean bluesy tones. The mohagany body resonates and sustains forever. Even played acoustically it has a certain richness to it.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar fits me perfectly. If lost or stolen, I'd definately get another. Its a no frills guitar, plain and simple. If you're after a killer metal tone, excellent playability and not worried about having a bright, flashy guitar, definately check these out. All of ESP's LTD 400 series and above are well made and I highly reccomend.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I always change out the strap buttons to Schaller strap locks on all my guitars, but I would definately reccomend it on this guitar. The stock ones were loose and wouldn't have held out long, so I filled the holes with a little wood filler before I put my Schallers in. Probably just a fluke because overall this guitar is very well built. This isn't a cheap beginner guitar. This is professional quality instrument with few frills. I wouldn't hesitate to use this guitar for any recording or gigging. I may be bias on this issue because I don't see the need to spend thousands on dollars on a guitar when there are plenty of guitars at a fraction of the price that offer the same playability, sound and feel. All it really lacks is a beautiful, flashy finish.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
This guitar came set up perfectly from the factory. Even after changing my strings to 11-56's, I have yet to need to make the first adjustment. The neck and frets are smooth as glass. There are absolutely no flaws that I can find.
Features — 10
Made in 2005. This guitar was built to last. I've banged this guitar on just about everything in my room (drum cymbals, ceiling fan, amps, tv's) and I have only managed to put one small chip in the finish on the bottom horn. Even my chains and belt buckle have yet to scratch the finish. The one thing that really surprised me about this guitar is how little it weighs. I've always been an Explorer fan, but they are usually ungodly heavy. This weighs in at 7lb 9 oz, just three ounces more than my Fender Stratocaster. The neck profile is slightly flat, but somewhat thick like a Les Paul. The only downfall about the neck, and this is just personal preference, is that its painted. I much prefer an unfinished neck, but its very comfortable. As with all Explorer style guitars, the neck is a little heavier than that of most Strat style guitars, but with a decent strap you don't even notice it. As with any guitar, I reccomend strap locks. - Made in Korea (you'd swear it was American made. Excellent quality) - Black with black Diamond Plate (basically a chunk of plastic, but it looks good) - 3 piece maple set neck construction - 24.75" scale - Mahogany body - Rosewood fingerboard - Dot inlays with EX-400BD inlay at the 12th fret - EMG 81 & 60 active pickups - Volume/tone controls with 3-way toggle - Black hardware - Grover tuners - Earvana compensated nut (this thing actually works!) - Tune-O-Matic style bridge - 22 extra jumbo frets.