Purchased from: Mega Music Myaree
Features — 9
ESP at the time of building were still based in Tokyo, but my understanding is the LTD range were all manufactured in Korea,as is the case here. I bought the ESP LTD Deluxe H-1001 that I've still got today ~2010; I knew exactly what I was after for my purposes, and too many of the guitarists with similar needs guitar-wise were using H series (Horizon) ESP LTD's of some form or another for me not to take notice. So, spec-wise, we have:
24 extra-jumbo frets, mahogany body with a maple top and very comfortable thin U-shape set-thru neck, rosewood fingerboard and abalone shell in-lays (from memory). most of the LTD's in this range were available with either passive Seymour Duncan humbuckers or the EMG 81/85 active combo. I already had an ESP set up with the 'buckers and I knew I wanted the actives - the 81 bridge and 85 neck. Similarly, most of the LTD H range (and beyond) were available with the Floyd Rose bridge and locking set-up, or the string thru body bridge. I've never been a huge fan of the FR (too fiddly) and I really liked the solid feeling thru body set-up. Machine heads/tuners are the equally solid locking style - the set up is robust as hell and can take a beating without effecting tuning. Volume and tone knob, and 3 way pick-up switch look and feel uncluttered and all hardware is cast in black Nickel. Finish is either a dark red or dark grey/black flamed/satin finish. For me, the aesthetic of these guitars is perfect; well proportioned and very very handsome (yes, I said handsome).
Sound — 10
I play a lot of metal (death, thrash, groove etc), but also quite a lot of psychadelic/prog stuff too; as such I needed something that was going to give me both a brutal, angry, bottom end, but also a crisp, balanced clean tone. I use high gain distortion (in built noise-gate)and an EQ pedal through a Marshall JCM800, 13-56 Ernie Ball Slinkys tuned to Drop C (I use a 7 string for anything lower) and I find this is the optimum tuning/string gauge for this guitar. The tone all the way from low-treble is excellent, and it gives an angry, angry distorted tone that I absolutely love with no unwanted noise whatsoever. Ever. I use a DD7 delay, Carbon Copy EVH phase pedal, and an Empress Tremolo, and I get a huge range of different, weird and cool noise with that chain. I use a modded (true bypass) Crybaby wah when I want to get my funk or blues on, but only every now and then (not live). This guitar/amp combo is absolutely killer for my needs; very crisp, responsive and consistent sound that can be manipulated for whatever needs I may have. I had my concerns that the smaller body mass compared to bigger guitars would lose a bit of sustain, but I've never found this to be a problem. Excellent, EXCELLENT sound.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I tend to keep an eye on the action, intonation, general set-up etc with all my guitars. From memory I had to tinker slightly with this guitar when I bought it, but I pretty much expect to have to do that with any guitar purchased new, especially when upsizing string gauge. No flaws at all when I bought it (I dont see minor adjustments to action etc as being flaws - I'd rather do that myself anyway). the input jack did start to crackle and pop after a couple of years, but this was after hundreds of very rowdy, sweat and beer soaked, hi energy gigs. A minor re-solder and tightening up of the jack internals fixed it straight away and I have had no issues since.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have absolutely thrashed this guitar playing metal gigs for years, I have covered it in sweat, bashed it into things, bled on it and probably spilled a few drinks in it's vicinity, and the lack of wear is astonishing. The hardware is perhaps holding up remarkably well, though the small screws in the pick up mounts are starting to corrode (but are very easily replaced. Strap nuts have withstood me jumping around like an idiot and never let go. I always take a back-up guitar, but have only ever needed it maybe 3 or 4 times when I've snapped strings, the guitar itself has never let me down. Finish is as good as the day I bought it.
Overall Impression — 10
As specified, I play heavy music - metal, rock etc... but i also love jamming out with jazz, funk, reggae etc. This guitar does it all beautifully - a very versatile, reliable instrument across a very wide range uses. It looks amazing, sounds even better, and is remarkably durable. It is, in my opinion, the best guitar in this price range by a mile. I have been playing guitar for 25+ years, and gigging for ~15. I only use ESP electric guitars, and this is the pick of the bunch (I have a SC207 7 string, and an ESP M10). I also have a couple of basses, a steel 6 string and a classical guitar - I use them all regularly. The ESP LTD Deluxe H-1001 is the best guitar I've owned and I would buy 10 of them if I could.