Price paid: $ 430
Purchased from: SamAsh.com
Sound — 9
Ah, the sound. Out of the box, it was intonated, and barely out of tune [some notes had went a bit south, but not far]. I play metal, and the Custom 5/Jazz N pickup configuration is great. The 5 way Switch gives lots of great tone options, allowing for lots of creativity/variety, and the vol/tone controls are also quite useful; they clean up great, while the tone knob doesn't get muddy at the lowest setting. I use this guitar with A) Peavey Rockmaster 120w head that I use with a Rocktron Silver Dragon or Zombie, or B) Ashdown Fallen Angel 60 with either a Boss SD-1 or DOD 250 and an ART 400 series 15 band EQ. The sound is heavy and full, but not muddy. Setting it right and you get quite a cutting tone. Adjusting the pickups and polepieces helps out quite a bit, and if you are into it, you could Switch the Alnico 5 in the Custom 5 with an Alnico 8, making it what the SD forums user group call a "Custom 8". I give it a 9 for having to adjust the pickups, but that's to be expected. [mainly I didn't want every category to be 10].
Overall Impression — 10
I have been playing 7 years and have quite a bit of gear. The past six months, I've gotten a Rocktron Zombie, an LTD FX260SM, this LTD H-500, a Road 4X12" cab, and an Ashdown Fallen Angel 60. Quite a steal for $910 total. If it were stolen or lost, this is definitely something I'd look for in another guitar. Maybe I'd bite the extra $2-300, and buy the H-400, which I think is the new H-500. My favorite feature is that this guitar was made. It's perfect for soloing, and would be insane in a studio. I absolutely love it. I compared it to quite a few other guitars, mainly an MH-250, and obviously it doesn't even compare, at all. I chose this one because everything is much better, and about the same price due to it being on closeout. The only thing I wish it had was a Tone Pros bridge, but this thing intonated perfectly with the earvana, so whatever.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar seems well built, but I think I'd save it for the studio, because it sounds great. I wouldn't want it to get destroyed, but with an ESP case, it should be solid. The hardware seems nice, and the strap buttons seem solid. I am thinking about getting DiMarzio straps for all of my guitars, though. I could depend on it and use it without a backup, but again, I wouldn't want to risk it. I'd probably handle the guitar myself.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Well, all LTD's are sent out with the lowest action they can get [which is pretty low]. This way, they are slightly buzzy [as this sort of action is expected], but if you adjusted the truss rod, and the bridge, etc., the guitar would probably be buzz-free. The pickups were well adjusted for stock, but I did further tuning of the pickup on a clean channel. Why clean? I figured a nice powerful tone on the clean channel would give me a 'clean slate' [no pun intended] to 'tune' the pickups. Anyways, the bridge, top etc were all properly routed/bookmatched, etc. The guitar was impressive out of the box. I gave a 9 because if you don't like ANY fret buzz, well, you'll have to set it up, but most of LTD's customers probably wouldn't do much adjustment from factory.
Features — 10
It was made in 2007 as the first run for the 2008 specs in Korea. It is a 24 fret 25.5" scale maple neck with a thin contour, and rosewood fretboard. The top is a flame maple top, mahogany body, Earvana nut and Grover tuners. The body style is reminiscent of an Ibanez S series superstrat, but the back doesn't thin out to almost nothing. It's a very lightweight guitar, but feels very solid as well. It has a tune-o-matic bridge, 1 vol, 1 tone, Seymour Duncan SH-14 Custom 5 and SH-2N Jazz pickups, and 5 way super-Switch. Great options for the price, considering they are real Seymour pickups and grover tuners.