LTD KH-602 review by ESP

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (188 votes)
ESP: LTD KH-602
2

Price paid: $ 1099

Sound — 10
The reason I bought this guitar was simple: I like the sound. It's perfect for metal, but it can also be used for modern rock and classic rock though I wouldn't use it for jazz and blues. I mainly play thrash metal and this guitar gives me anything from the most bitting and screaming sound to the heaviest metal sound. I like the sound on both channels (overdrive and clean). The clean sound has a little bit of crunch, perfect for rock. The overdrive channel can make this guitar scream, shred and soloing sounds amazing on overdrive!

Overall Impression — 10
I play metal and rock and this guitar suits my style perfect. The neck is good and the sound is awesome. If it was stolen I would have to play my Squier so dosn't get stolen. The only thing irritating thing about this guitar is that I have to change the battery once in a while, but that comes with the active pickups.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I have only been playing a little for my friends and my family with this guitar, but it havn't let me down. It stays in tune for a very long time. It once kebt in tune for the night (almost, the g-string got out of tune) and I think that that was pretty nice. The finish is really nice, the black body and the skull and bone inlays just makes this guitar a bad-ass. The hardware seem pretty durable, they work like when I bought it. I don't have to bring a backup when I'm playing live next time. With this little beast I could be playing all day long.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
After I tried it in the music store I wantet it, but it was the last one so I had to buy the one hanging in the store and I don't know if they have set it up before I tried it, but it's set up perfect. Action was good, the pickups was good so I don't complain.

Features — 9
This baby comes with two active EMG-81 humbuckers, a double lock floyd rose bridge with tremolo, 3-way selector and 24 XJ frets. It has a Mahogany body and rosewood/mahogany neck with reversed head and skull and bone inlays. This guitar was made for metal!

39 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jerm138
    I just got this guitar today. Once I've had a while to play it (at least a few months) I'll write a proper review. I've only had a couple hours on it, but I'll share my initial impressions: Purchased new from Musician's Friend. Paid $760 after 15% off from Memorial Day sale. Features: The features that sold me were the EMGs, Neck-Thru construction, and Original Floyd Rose (well... Floyd Rose 1000 which is SUPPOSEDLY exactly the same metals, quality, and everything, just lower price because it's made in Korea). Sound: It sounds like every other guitar that has active EMGs. EMGs are a one-trick pony, but it's a really GOOD trick. So if that's the sound you're going for the sound is perfect. If you prefer a vintage or "warmer" sound, then these pups aren't for you. It annoys me that people give poor sound reviews because they don't like the active sound. If you've never heard them before, make sure you hear a set before buying because it might not be your cup of tea. I personally love the sound. Action, Fit, Finish: Okay... when I buy a guitar online, I don't expect it to arrive at my doorstep already set up and in tune. The temperature changes and time between factory and doorstep are too great to expect a great setup. If you order a guitar online, you should expect to have to spend a few hours getting it just right before it's really playable... or so I thought. I was completely blown away by this one! The FR Tremolo needed no adjustments whatsoever. The strings were actually still good, and the thing was perfectly in tune! The action was about the lowest I've ever played and I haven't found any fret buzzes yet. The finish is gorgeous if you like black. Again, know what you're getting into... some people don't like painted necks. I don't have a problem with them. The Neck-Thru construction really does make it smoother on the higher frets because you don't have this big chunk of wood under your palm. Reliability/Durability: Can't really comment on this since I just got it. It feels very solid and is heavier than I expected (which is a good thing.) I imagine it could take a beating but can't vouch for that just yet. Impression: Overall I'm very pleased with it. It's exactly what I wanted and expected. I played an ESP KH-1 or 2 (don't remember) back in the late 90's and this one honestly feels just as good if not better. Considering the high price of the ESP model, I can't imagine it really being worth the extra $1000+ you'll pay just to have the headstock say ESP instead of the dreaded LTD. Don't let the "economy model" stigma fool you... this is a high quality guitar. Right now I'd give it a 10 overall based on initial impression... but I'm sure I'm quite a bit biased because it still has the "newness factor" for me and I haven't had much time with it.
    Impieman
    What's the difference between a KH-2 and KH-602 except that KH-602 is a 1000 bucks cheaper?
    JFRules
    I bought this guitar last year. Its really nice it plays great and I find it looks really good. Since I bought my King V I never play it but I give it a 9 out of 10 for the price.
    HenneB
    Schmelfest wrote: Can anyone explain why the KH602 listed on ESP's site http://www.espguitars.com/guitars_kirk.h... has EMG 81/60 pickups and these reviews have 81's?
    Kirk changed his setup to 81/60 last year or so... I was confused too. I got this guitar since 07 and its totally worth the money. It sounds extremely great and the playability is awesome!
    simpleben09
    Impieman wrote: What's the difference between a KH-2 and KH-602 except that KH-602 is a 1000 bucks cheaper?
    I'm not gonna lie.... The only real differences I've ever seen are the neck being VERY slightly smoother and the overall build quality being barely better. Seriously, the KH-2 is only worth about 50-100 more than the KH-602
    munkee shred
    I've never played the Kh-602 but i've played the Kh-202 and if they say that Kh-602 is better, then its gonna blow my mind when i get a chance to try it cuz Kh-202 is already my dream guitar.
    98tsle
    A realy good guitar, its fast, and reliabel and has a good sound
    BoredTexan
    Impieman wrote: What's the difference between a KH-2 and KH-602 except that KH-602 is a 1000 bucks cheaper?
    The KH-2 is handmade by ESP in Japan. The KH-602 is made on an assembly at the Sammick factory in Korea or Singapore. (along with cheaper Ibanez, Jackson, Epiphones and a few others) The wood used to make guitar bodies comes in various grades, the biggest difference being the wood density - the older the tree the denser the wood the better the sound & the higher the cost. The attention to detail varies greatly between an assembly line produced guitar and a hand built guitar. Thats the difference
    bpl711
    I looked on the website and it says it has a 81/bridge and a 60 in the neck.
    WeePee
    I got this 5 days ago and I lovet it!! The black design, skulls, emg actives, FR tremolo...Man this thing is beauty! It's my first "real" guitar and it's so easy to play. One problem though, I keep hitting my fingers to the 1st volume knob, but hey that's small problem. I haveLine 6 SpiderIII amp and a Korg AX1G pedal and the sound is excellent. Get this now!! Peace!
    jerm138
    I think it used to have dual 81's and at some point they switched to 81/60.
    digitalox
    The shop near me stocks many of the LTD models. I have played all of the ones there. They are great guitars but my ESP definitely surpasses them in quality and feel. LTD is probably one of the best as far as "budget" models go though, a number of known bands use them in concert because they're so good but much less expensive to replace than their ESP counterparts.
    TST2469
    THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!!! Must have guitar right here!!!! Seriously out of all the guitars ive seen and tried this 1 still comes out on top for me..... MUST GET 1 IN THE NEAR FUTURE!!
    ibanez1997
    Hey guys, little question - ive played for abt 2 years. i play almost entirely metallica style stuff, i dont want to spend too much. is this a good choice for maybe USD 300-400?
    grungelive72
    Kirk Hammett has way too many signature models. It doesn't even make sense because when he gets compared to many of the new guitar players out there, they kick Kirks ass. I can name a few: Misha Mansour, JB Brubaker, and I'm sure Mark Tremonti and Jeff Loomis could use another too.
    bronco23
    i bought this beast 3 months ago. love it. even more than my dean from hell with emg 81's. just hate my line 6 spider 4.
    equeiregoocu
    I can see nobody posted here for a while. 6 months ago I bought 2nd hand KH-602 in almost perfect condition. It came with EMG 81/60. Sounded great with distorted tones but cleans were total rubbish. Mind you I have another 7 guitars to compare it with. After a bit of research I found that 81 and 60 are both humbuckers based on ceramic magnets and 85 is alnico, thus is should sound "warmer" and bit more "organic". I decided to bite the bullet and replaced both pickups with EMG 85. Boy oh boy, what a difference. Now this guitar can be used very well for really heavy stuff, with palm mutes and cutting riffs and all the way to blues/jazz and really creamy solos. I can't believe that so many players are hung onto EMG 81 or 60. I think 85 runs rings around them no matter what kind of stuff you play or what your playing style is. 2 months ago I decided to go one step further and after more research I found what Kerry King and Alexi Leiho use on their ESPs. It is EMG Afterburner, or an active ON/OFF adjustable on-board signal booster. I replaced the second voulme knob with the Afterburner, turning my KH-602 into 1 master voulme, 1 master tone and middle knob is push/pull adjustable boost - the EMG Afterburner. Let me tell you one thing folks - if you think this was a good guitar to start with (which it was), now this is nuclear weapon ready to be launched at a simple pull on the middle knob. This guitar now does 300% more that what the original "package" ever could. My modified LTD KH-602 has become by far my favourite axe. Cheers.
    Orneblad
    my review wasn't ready and I dont know how to change it :S forgott to write quite much... the overall rating for me is 9 or somthing. great guitar, and handsome! clean in a nice way
    Trellis
    The strap jumps of! Once it fell to the ground and got a ugly flaw. But maybe it's the strap, so I don't count it as a minus
    why doesnt he get strap locks?
    Nerdo-sez-bo
    I've found that many soloist shape guitars look really boring. This doesn't effect the sound though, but I'd like to play something a bit prettier =/
    mustafallica
    i had the ltd version..broke the tremelo bridge...the guitar guy said dont sexualy abuse it next time ..
    seek_&_destroy
    Nerdo-sez-bo wrote: I've found that many soloist shape guitars look really boring. This doesn't effect the sound though, but I'd like to play something a bit prettier =/
    some ppl like it because it's more "metal" than the start, but still provides the best upper fret acess for conventional shapes. This is handy for "Shredding" and soloing particularly in metal
    scarfacesuit
    they really don't play better. i played a jackson and it was actually harder to play than a gibson lp. but the lp was a LOT heavier
    FargoDog
    rider of pigs wrote: is this a better buy for the cash than the 202?
    Yeah the 202 only has passive EMGs and A lisenced Floyd Rose and a bolt on neck, while this one has a Active EMGs, an original Floyd rose and is neck-thru.
    Triviumfan54
    right on metal brother!! That baby's gonna be sweey. shame you haven't got a Line6 to run it through!!!
    madlarkin22
    An excellent guitar for advanced players to Hammett himself. This is the best guitar i have ever purchased and almost plays itself. although the guitar can only performs at its peak with an amp with a low gain setting for its active pick-ups, it still rocks on regular amps. I recommend this guitar for anyone who likes classic rock to metal.
    Orneblad
    I hate strapslocks ok
    Trellis wrote: The strap jumps of! Once it fell to the ground and got a ugly flaw. But maybe it's the strap, so I don't count it as a minus why doesnt he get strap locks?
    I hate straplocks ok?
    tjv777
    yeah the kh602 is a beast. I cant tell you how much i beat up this guitar, but for the most part its a tank. i kinda wish it had an 85 in it, but its not hard to change out. satisfied completely with it. -straplocks would be a great idea. its saved my ass countless times
    damico529
    im tryin to save up to buy the 602 but so far ive only saved 40 bucks in the past 2 months lol
    bassisto
    @equeiregoocu great to hear, I'm still leery of guitars with EMGs, I'd wanna rip them out. Well except on maybe the Lukather Musicman....