Sound — 8
The sound of this guitar is out of this world. I usually play heavy stuff, but not necessarily metal. The sound of this guitar is virtually perfect to me and I don't process the tone much. Infact the only effects I ever use with this guitar are the WH-1, Deal, Reverb, Chorus and Wah. The rest of the processing is done my the amp (Laney TFX300) itself. The distortion on this guitar is to die for. It has a massive ammount of bite to it and it really lets you cut through the mix of sounds during live performances. The EMG '81s are usually labelled as very sterile and bright pickups. I usually fully agree with this however, with this guitar I found that the EMGs are actually full don't sound sterile at all. They also weren't as bright as I had expected. The clean on this guitar isn't really anything too special. However, with the selector Switch in the middle position and after mixing (using the two volume knobs) both pickups together, you'll get an excellent clean sound. Unfortunately, I'll have to admit that you would be better off passive pickups if you plan on playing a song that requires a lot of clean sounds. However, if cleans are not that vital, this guitar should do the trick just the same. So as I rating I'll have to give it a 4 because of the lack of cleans.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar doesn't really fit my band's style. However, I've always had a fixation for having guitars and amps that dish out massive ammounts of distortion and lead tones, so I couldn't pass on a guitar like this. If this guitar were stolen, I wouldn't event think of getting another one though as the wait for it was too long (as is with all ESPs). Or else I would just buy one off e-bay. Yes, if this guitar was stolen or lost I'd probably buy another one off eBay. My favourite feature it the neck of this guitar, the shape is very comfortable and the all the frets are wide enough to accomodate most your fingers. The alder body is also one of the reasons I got this guitar. The only thing I don't really like is the fact that its Kirk's signature model. I would have preferred it if it was simply a custom guitar that wasn't associate it to Kirk as I don't really want to be labelled as a fan-boy. However, this guitar did have all the specs I wanted so I figured I might just as well buy it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The world flawless doesn't even get close to describing how this guitar came out of the factory. The guitar came perfectly set-up from the factory and it was even in tune. I did however tinker around with the pickup height a little bit though because it didn't really fit my personal preference. As expected with guitars coming out of the ESP Custom Shop, everything on this guitar was perfect. The skull and crossbone inlays were perfectly fit and defined (even the two tiny inlays at the 24th fret are as well defined as the rest). The frets were beautifully filesd and crowned, the nut is perfectly aligned, the bridge sits perfectly flush with the body, the bridge route is perfect, the wiring is pretty neat and very well sheilded. The tuning heads are solid, even though they are pretty useless on a guitar with a locking nut. The action on this guitar is also perfect. The string height along the neck barely varies (this is due to the Original Floyd Rose). The guitar feels like your favourite pair of jeans. Unlike most guitars that tend to need some time to "loosen up" this guitar was already loosened up. However, bending on this guitar is a bit tough on the higher frets since the Floyd Rose springs are still pretty tight and hard (I've only had it for a week, and I've barely played it for an hour). Well, if I had to really think of a flaw or two, I'd have to say that the only flaws I found were these: a screw on the selector Switch was loose (I've tightened it up, and it hasn't gone loose since); and the selector Switch is a bit hard to move, but that's all.