Price paid: $ 925
Purchased from: Sam Ash Music
Sound — 7
The Music that I play is varied, my main project is a progressive metal outlet that ventures into technical metal at times. I have a folk side project that I work on with my neighbors and close friends, and a blues project that hasn't been getting as much attention as it honestly deserves. This guitar is geared at a certain audience, as most LTD guitars are save for a few select models. For metal, the Bridge pickup is absolutely a dream to play with harmonics are absolutely ridiculous on that pickup, the neck and other positions, not so much. For lead playing, I prefer using both pickups instead of only the Jazz, simply because past a basic Foo Fighters like crunch, this pickup falls apart. It's domain is in the clean tones mainly, and even then the bridge and 2nd/4th position are much more desirable to use clean than anything else for sounding much more complete and full than the neck by itself. The pickup set isn't balanced at all, there is a slight volume difference that is completely assessable but in a guitar that at the time retailed for up to 800$ new there is no excuse for this. It is not a wiring problem as me and my new tech have checked it out and there is nothing wrong with it. The combo is just much weaker, I'm hopefully looking to replace the neck with a 59', and keeping the Custom 5 since it is simply a hotrodded JB in comparison and I love it's harsh yet warm sound. I run my amp fairly high gain for my metal project, and compared to my other guitars it is probably the quietest. In comparison to my other guitar which contains EMG 707's which I detest due to my inability to love Active pickups, The EMG's are actually noisier even after a battery swap. I just got the guitar and plan on getting another set of 7 string pickups to replace that guitar's pickups, but that's for another review. The variety that is brought to the table is nice when clean, or with an extremely light overdrive to push the sound and give the guitar an extra kick of sustain.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall this guitar is a good match for what I do, but not perfect pickup and sound wise. It does one thing good and another thing decently which would be fine if I only had my main project. I have been playing for 3 and a half years now, I have owned around 20+ guitars and traded to land on the guitars I truly love and feel at home with. The other guitars are my modded Epiphone G-310 which acts as a fairly decent and solid backup if any of my guitars were to fail live, my Ibanez RG3250MZFOB, my recently acquired Schecter Jeff Loomis FR-7, and my Warmoth Custom Stratocaster which is a complete workhorse and stands on it's own in comparison to any guitar I've ever tried. The only thing I would have like to be informed about is fret wear in advance, the frets have a lot of life left in them going through only a single dressing and crowning. But as soon as it's necessary, the change to stainless steel frets will be made. If this guitar were stolen, I don't think I'd buy it again. This guitar is special, it's been with me at every gig I've ever done. The only way I'd ever own anything similar is if ESP's custom Shop would replicate it for me in the form of a Horizon Model which I highly doubt they would. I would simply find the person that stole it and get my guitar back in whatever condition it'd be in. I love how the guitar feels and plays, the neck has a bit of chunk to it which is nice to actually grasp and play, and the body's weight and shape is perfect for me. The only things I wish it had would be the 59' Humbucker already in the neck position instead of the Jazz and maybe some higher quality solid black hardware so the tarnish wouldn't be anything to worry about. Other than that, this guitar is a solid workhorse that I wouldn't give up for anything, I hope I never give in and trade or sell this guitar and hopefully pass it down to whatever next generation picks up my hobby.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Now reliability and durability. I've had this guitar for 2.5 years, which is why I've held off on reviewing it. I always feel like a lot of reviews on here are rushed and done within hours of playtime on a brand new guitar. And that isn't fair to people legitimately looking to purchase the model of guitar being reviewed. As some people might be relying on it for a long time, I choose to give the guitar a lot of time to settle in and work itself before making a review. Now the LTD is my go to guitar, that's all there is to say. I own a Custom Warmoth Stratocaster which I keep in E and use for my other projects, I also own an Ibanez RG3250MZFOB, and a Schecter Jeff Loomis FR-7, with a MusicMan JPXI on the way and a custom build also. But this guitar is the guitar that I practice, and gig with. The others have their place and purpose, but the LTD I just extremely solid and held up with time. Yes it withstands live playing, the hardware has lasted without a problem besides cosmetic wear. The Strap Buttons came slightly loose about a year ago, but has been solid ever since retightening it. Gigging without a backup is extremely risky, and I would never do it. Put into the situation of having only the ability to bring one guitar to a gig, after a nice restringing and set-up I wouldn't worry about this guitar one bit when playing. The finish is just a cosmetic part of the guitar, I don't really mind if it gets dinged up, even though it truly won't show without a substantial amount of damage done to the guitar itself, definitely not easy to damage or too thin. The hardware is much more prone to oxidation though, which is something to consider if that's a huge part of a purchase. This is the department that is worth the 10, simply because all the hardware is replaceable but the guitar is solid and isn't going to break or wear down anytime soon.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I never got a chance to see it from the factory, but kudos to the Sam Ash I purchased it from before the repairs department took a dip in consistency. The Action was as low as it could possibly be with no buzz across the neck at all. 2 and a half years later to today, I keep my action with a bit of height from the fretboard, nothing ridiculous but enough so it feels like I'm actually playing a guitar and not another low action Ibanez. I can pull off all the things I can do on my RG3250MZ same way I can on this LTD, I just prefer it's feel when the strings aren't pretty much next to the fret board. Pickups came nicely adjusted from the moment I laid eyes on it. Now for flaws, there were 5-6 dings in the clear coat finish around the guitar. A few in the back, a few on the top horn, and one on the headstock. You can see why the guitar was bought at the price I got it for. Other than those cosmetic flaws the guitar was absolutely perfect Day 1. Moving on to day 900ish or so, the hardware has garnered that rusted/oxidized look to it, but once more it's just cosmetics, as long as it doesn't affect the sound, this workhorse guitar is the same way as I bought it. The only other problem I've ever had was the volume knob squeaking whenever I used it, but it was easily fixed by taking it off and reinserting it using the locking mechanism. I'm giving this part of the review an 8 simply because I never got to see it from the factory, and I've heard some horror stories coming from imported guitars. And for the dings and squeaky volume knob.
Features — 7
This Purple LTD Deluxe was made in 2008, and by what the headstock says Korean made also. It is my 2nd guitar, and my first decent purchase to begin gigging and getting serious with the hobby I took up. The Guitar features 24 Jumbo Frets, the wider ones which aren't my favorite but I'm not picky when it comes to frets as long as it lasts a year or two before the need for a fret dressing/crowning. The Scale is 25.5", it's an average length and if you're coming from Fender Territory you'll know what to expect. I'm tuned down 1 Whole Step on this guitar and record all my music in D Standard or Drop C. The Neck is rosewood, outlined with the ever famous "abalone overkill", I've got to say I love this guitar's looks and features and the abalone is a bit overdone but it looks very nice to me. It features a Mahogany body, with a neck thru maple neck, all finished in a transparent Purple finish. It also features a Flamed Maple top which shines under the light and looks almost 3 dimensional, but nothing crazy. Now onto the hardware and electronics: It features ESP Branded Locking Tuners. These tuners are nice, and I did deal with some slippage when I restrung it for the 7-8th time after initially having it set up at the location where I bought it. And one of the locking tuners ended up being permanently locked in place, but I called ESP and customer service were glad to ship me a replacement tuner free of charge which was a pleasant surprise for me at the time. After getting the tuner replaced and getting it properly set up in the tuning I now use, the guitar feels solid. There is the occasional slip in tuning which can get tedious during recording sessions, but not so often that it would deter me from playing this guitar. It features a String Thru Body with a locking bridge, which I don't have much to say about. Intonating the guitar is extremely easy and restringing takes less time since I won't have to worry about the bridge falling off since it's locked into position. The nut is an Earvana Compensated nut, which honestly isn't as big of a deal as it seems. It keeps the guitar more intonated across the neck, but with a proper set up you shouldn't need to worry about compensating the nut. None of my other guitars have them and they play as good if not better than this guitar. Pickups and other electronics. It features a single volume, a single tone knob, and a 5 way selector switch. Pickups are, Seymour Duncan Custom 5 (B), and Jazz (N). The guitar came with no accessories when I purchased it.