LTD GUS-600 FR Gus G Signature review by ESP

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 7.4 (5 votes)
ESP: LTD GUS-600 FR Gus G Signature

Purchased from: eBay

Features — 8
I bought this about a month ago. I've wanted one of these since I first started playing. I'm a fan of Gus G; Dream Evil is the very first metal I heard, and that got me into other metal bands. That's where it started. I had never heard metal music before then. I had to go second hand anyway, since this was discontinued in 2009 for the NT model without a Floyd Rose. My particular guitar is from 2007.

The LTD Gus-600 is Korean made, which I understand to be better than China made but not as good as American made, as a general rule. This is the rarest guitar to find in the Gus G series, the Gus-600 NT and Gus-200 being much more common. This model is also available from Edwards and ESP, and it is just as rare.

The guitar has 22 XJ frets (they feel much smaller to me), and the neck is set-thru. This means the neck heel is very smooth and flat, and there is lots of accessibility to the top frets. (Not as much as there is on the new models, where the forward horn has been made thinner.) The neck is 25.5" scale, like a Fender. The neck shape is a thin U, which feels great and is intended for shred and lead playing, but will still accommodate for rhythm and chord playing. The guitar comes with a reverse headstock. The body is Alder with a flamed maple top, and the neck is maple with rosewood fingerboard. Overall a Les Paul esque construction, save for the body wood, which is Alder, like a Stratocaster. This makes the body lighter than other guitars, but it does cause the guitar to be neck heavy.

It has Gus G's recognizable star design which is similar to Dean's ML. What is special about this model is the Floyd Rose, because ESP and LTD stopped making the Gus G models with Floyd Rose in 2009, as Gus G wasn't using it.

The bridge is Floyd Rose Original, which is nice, as often guitars around this price still have lower end Floyd Rose Specials, or even Licensed Floyd Rose bridges. There is an newer model available without a Floyd Rose if you do not want the Floyd Rose, which I would highly recommend in that case because the newer model has several improvements, and only the loss of the coil tap. The tuners are Grovers, which are very good in themselves, and when paired with the locking nut, there is no way this guitar is going out of tune. Ever.

As for electronics, there are two Seymour Duncan passive humbuckers which sound very good and have about average hiss for passives. The bridge is a Duncan Distortion, and the neck is a '59. There is one volume, no tone, three way pickup selector, and coil switch. These controls are quite minimalistic, but all I need to play.

This model is only available in STBC (See through Black Cherry), but the top is beautiful. The finish is very glossy and fingerprints show up in the light, but wow, what a beautiful guitar. I do not believe it comes with a case; that will be another £120 to buy. The case is hard to find, so I got the Stagg case for generic pointy guitars.

Sound — 7
The Gus-600 FR fits my music style perfectly. I'm a self-confessed fanboy of Gus G and Firewind is my favorite band ever. I keep this in D most the time, and it suits my music taste; I like thrash metal, power metal, and doom metal, including Megadeth, Dream Evil, Ozzy, Katatonia and Black Label Society. This fits the bill perfectly, and the 22 frets aren't a problem; I have no need for 24.

I'm playing this through a Peavey 6505+ 112 combo. That's a valve amp with 7 valves. I don't get the classic Firewind sound, but that's because the Peavey 6505 isn't quite trebly enough, it can be solved by using a boost pedal, but I don't bother with that. I'm not trying to actually be Gus G, after all. The Alder wood lends itself to more of a classic rock tone than modern metal.

The guitar does hiss slightly when on high gain. I have found this to be standard with all my guitars. My other main guitar is an Epiphone LP PTP and it hisses the same so I do not believe this to be a defect, but the cavities would benefit from shielding to reduce the slight hiss. The passive pickups aren't distorted and do clean sound very well as well, so there is no real limit to the sounds this guitar can make. It will never sound quite as airy as a Stratocaster, and it will never sound like a hollowbody either, but it has no problem covering all grounds from classic rock to heavy metal. One detriment of the sound is the Floyd Rose springs sometimes creak. But the Floyd Rose does awesome dive bombs, so that's ok.

All the guitar can't really do is death metal. For that you would need a baritone neck and at least seven strings. These pickups aren't optimum for that genre, either. The sound is bright and smooth, but the pickups struggle to bring out full strength harmonics even with high gain. I'm intending on upgrading to the Seymour Duncan Fire Blackouts. The one thing the sound is perfect for is Gus G's "I am the Fire." Think of that tone; that is exactly what this guitar sounds like through my Peavey 6505. It does Metallica well too, especially the neck pick up for the lead in songs like "Fade to Black."

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
This is where the guitar falters somewhat. The biggest issue were the frets; the guitar has high frets causing dead notes in some places on the low E and high E, which I really didn't expect on a guitar retailing at £950. I've played worthless, no-name, battered, school music room acoustics which don't have dead frets like this. I'm expecting to have to pay a lot of money to have a luthier fix the frets on this. I hope my guitar is a one off. I only payed £450 for a guitar which needs another £200 of fret work because I've been GASing so bad over this guitar for three years, and this is the only guitar like this I've seen for sale in England. I saw one in Scotland for £500. The flamed maple top is one of the most beautiful tops I have ever seen on a guitar, period.

The Original Floyd Rose tremolo arm has to be occasionally tightened or it will loosen and fall down. Some people prefer it loose, but I prefer it stiff. The major problem is the frets. This might be due to wood warping in the neck. The neck is better now, but the previous owner knew very little about guitars and the guitar hadn't been looked after very well; it spent lots of time standing in a corner. To sum everything up, this guitar has suffered a lot in the past and may be a poor example to judge all of these model guitars by, but it has the worst frets of any of my guitars, despite being the most expensive.

Reliability & Durability — 7
My guitar is from September 2007, so it is nearly seven years old. It hasn't broken yet. That is a good thing in my eyes. I have bashed the headstock multiple times, but not chipped it at all to my relief. This guitar prefers to dent rather than chip. The hardware is solid, but I wouldn't trust strap buttons on any guitar. I've replaced the strap buttons with Fender strap locks. The screws for the claw hook were stripped when I bought the guitar, but that is due to the fault of the previous owner. With the right size screw driver this will not happen. The allen key slots for the Floyd Rose studs seem prone to wearing, so I'm expecting to have to replace them at some point.

I wouldn't rely on ANY guitar at a gig without a backup. This one particularly because if the string breaks the whole guitar will go out of tune, and you won't be able to restring it quickly enough. This is an inherent risk with Floyd Rose bridges. I think the finish is Poly. It's very durable and doesn't come off, but it does scratch and shows fingerprints. The body wood is very soft and dents easily. This guitar is especially prone to denting because of the pointy tips which seem to be physically attracted to other hard objects. The body on my guitar also seems to have very faint "lines" indented across it, not following the grain. The headstock and neck is one piece like a Gibson. This is not a good thing! One piece headstock/necks are much more prone to breaking when dropped then a two piece headstock/neck, but the neck does have a volute, which makes up for it.

I've actually dropped this guitar and it seems none the worse for it, so it can't be that bad! I don't think it's quite as much a beater as my Epiphone Les Paul has proven to be, but this guitar has taken plenty of knocks which I know would have chipped guitars such as Deans, which are notorious for chipping paint all the time, like an abused child's toy. The guitar wears easily aesthetically, but the hardware itself is stronger. Not as reliable as a Les Paul, and the Floyd Rose comes with inherent instabilities.

Overall Impression — 7
I play metal as I described earlier. I play power, thrash and doom. I've been playing for three years. That isn't very long so take what I say with a pinch of salt, but I consider myself very good for the length of time I have been playing, so please don't assume I don't know what I have been talking about. This is my sixth guitar, this is one of my two main electrics, the other being an Epiphone LP PT Pro. I have an Epiphone DR212 twelve string. My other guitars are not worth mentioning and I gave one to a friend to play on, but I have worked my way up from cheap no-name guitars.

The only real disappointment I have with this is the neck heaviness. I repeat this from earlier, if you buy this you will NEED a big thick leather strap to stop it from sliding. This is my favorite earthly possession, if it were stolen I would fight to the death over it. I would pay as much as it takes to have it repaired if it was seriously damaged because I love it so much. This was the dream guitar I originally pined for when I started playing three years ago.

I love the shape, and this is my first Floyd Rose guitar. I'm hooked; I'm completely confused now when I pick up a Les Paul, and then reach for the tremolo bar: "Huh, what? No tremolo?" Is it worth it though? Depends who is asking. From a Firewind fan or Gus G fan, yes it is. For a guitarist who has never heard of Gus G, look elsewhere. To be honest, this is a rather disappointing guitar for £950 new. I wouldn't change it for the world, but the guitar is sub par value for it's price. It's hard to find and takes some effort to even find one, and it is only worth doing so if you are a fan of Gus G and want the guitar for that reason. The guitar is comparable to a similar shred guitar for about £500/600 new. If you can get it used or B stock then it is worth considering. Of course it is better than my Epiphone Les Paul, but not worth the cost; about 2 and a half times as much.

I wish it came with duct tape to tape plectrums onto the guitar with, just like Gus G does. I can envision it: ESP Gus G Signature Duct Tape. I would buy that. No, that's a joke. There's nothing I wish this guitar had except strap locks, and in the right places so it doesn't neck dive. If you are a massive fan of Gus G and Firewind, just get this guitar and enjoy it like me. If you are looking for a high quality guitar and want to spend around £450 for a used one or £950 for a new one, try looking elsewhere. I hate to give this guitar a 7 because I love it, but I know as a guitarist there are guitars with more bang for the buck.

Hope this helps, if you have questions just leave them and I will check the comments.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Not trebly enough through a 6505? Whaaaaa? Also, have you ever played the LTD RL-600, wondering if this would be similar, as the RL is my dream guitar, but it's been discontinued with no signs of coming back :'(
    I've never played the RL-600, but it is a very similar guitar. Almost identical specs, same woods and construction. Main differences are the Gus 600 FR has a higher quality Floyd Rose, but the RL has 24 frets and the Gus only has 22. Of course the pickups are different. The RL has a much hotter pickup. I very much doubt I'd have treble troubles with it either. Another similar guitar to the LTD RL-600 is the Gus G. RS NT-II. More similar colour, no Floyd Rose though. Still 22 frets, hotter pickups though. Another similar guitar, and the next one I'd like to obtain myself, is the Syu Crying Star. Anything from 24 to 27 frets, floyd rose or not, different colours, choice of body woods and constructions aswell. Personally, I'd track down and buy an RL though. Nothing similar will mean the same to you. I originally wanted this guitar but bought a Les Paul instead. I still had to have this one, I did, and no regrets! Anyway, the RL doesn't seem too difficult to find: Hope this helps?