Price paid: £ 360
Purchased from: The Academy of Sound
Sound — 9
Playing through a Carlsborough Kickstart 25 originally. It is severly limited by the amp. don't buy a midrange guitar and not have a semi decent amp to play it through is the conclusion I came to. Now playing through a Peavey Valveking 212 - I play a little bit of everything really from Metallica, to Dokken or the Dire Straits. For what is a very metal based guitar, I'm impressed with the sound of this guitar. The passive pickups, though described as muddy by some people can produce a nice thick tone for metal through both the bridge or neck positions, and the addition of the coil tap can give you a much more twangy single coil sound, which is nice for more country sounding licks. The sound is rich, and the passive pickups deliver quite nicely. It's more useable for a variety of genres than I was initially expecting. There is very very little noise coming from the pickups, and the mahogany body really feels resonant. It's a pleasure to play, and a pleasure to listen to in my opinion. If you're a big audiophile, chances are the FX400 will be more suited to you, due to the active pickups - you probably would never have considered the 260 in the first place in that case. For an amateur musician, it's spot on.
Overall Impression — 9
For metal, it will provide. For other genres from blues and soul to country, it does a pretty damn good job. I've been playing for about a year more recently, and 3 or 4 years quite a while back, and I do enjoy playing this guitar. If it were to be stolen, god forbid, I would almost definitely buy it again - or at least an EX/FX from ESP-LTD. I love the finish of this guitar, and reccommend it strongly. I may fork out the little extra for the 400, be it an EX or an FX, but the 260 is no letdown. I love the finish and the way it plays, I hate that they didn't include straplocks for it because it really does need them - as for favourite feature - just about all of them. I compared it with an LTD KH-202, EX-50/260, an Epiphone LP Custom; the KH202 is a very nice playing guitar, but the inlays and somewhat 'boring' finish made me look elsewhere. I think if you get this guitar, and are looking for a versatile Explorer shaped guitar, you wont be disappointed.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Not being a gigging musician, I cant really play. I play routinely with a few friends and it has never given me any problems whatsoever. It most likely would withstand playing live, but I think it would be reckless to play without a backup anyway. The strap buttons are just Standard ones, which, if youre playing standing up alot, should probably be replaced with strap locks. The shape of the guitar and the way it hangs makes it feel as though the could fail, though this hasnt happened to me. I would advocate sticking some straplocks on for good measure. As for the finish: its like a dark chrome for the bridge, saddles, tuners and dials. The finish is nice, but I have my doubts about the durability of it, but this seems to be a recurrent thing for me: the finish on the bridge has quite quickly worn away where I rest my hand, exposing the copper beneath. Now personally, I dont mind this at all, and I actually think it looks quite unique, but be aware of this. It very much seems that this is a problem is you have excessively acidic sweat, cause this has happened on my other guitars too, but my friends have no such problems. Beyond that, the finish of the actual guitar is very nice and feels good quality, which is in my opinion more than enough to bring it up to a 9 overall.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Out of the box, very nice action. It's quite low, which is nice, and the neck feels very fast to play on. The bridge pick up was very close to the strings, which is sometimes a little bit problematic for fingerpicking, but it was nothing major at all. 20 seconds is all it took to lower it by 1mm or so. There is a tiny amount of fret buzz on the low E string, but not a problematic amount that alters the sound. The build of the guitar feels very professional and there is very little I can fault here. The workmanship is admirable for a guitar of this price. It is lightweight, but feels very robust. Just a note though; I ordered one in, and fortunately got a very nicely made one. The shop got a couple more in for stock, and gave me the option of having one of them when I picked it up - both of them had dark fingerprints in the laquer that had dried, so you cant polish it off. I'd advise seeing the guitar first before committing to buying it. Overall, very impressed for the money I paid.
Features — 8
I wont go into the specs of the guitar in detail as they're readily available on ESP's website. Essentially: Indonesia built Mahogany Explorer based body with spalted maple top and natural finish EMG-ESP LH-300 passive pickups 22 XJ frets (rosewood fingerboard with pearl Dot inlays) TOM bridge Coil tap Overall for the features; not too bad. I think the finish of the guitar is very nice, and each one is completely unique which gives quite a custom feel. Of course 24 frets would be nice, and EMGs active pickups wouldn't go a miss, but that's what the FX-400 is for, and you will pay the extra for them and grover tuners. Besides that, the guitars are identical. Whammy on a guitar like this is uncommon, and in my opinion not necessary.