Price paid: $ 275
Purchased from: Mike's Music
Sound — 7
I've had this guitar for about a year and a half now and from my experience, it's a pretty solid sounding instrument. My personal style of playing leans more towards heavy rock or prog metal but I'm usually all over the place, from classical to tech metal and jazz even, and it delivers pretty well no matter what I'm playing. I normally play it through my 80 Watt Marshall and it sounds pretty killer. I've also set it up on a small 20 watt and it played pretty well, and it even sounds good unplugged. It's got a nice attack and heaviness to it, but it doesn't sacrifice much in the way of clarity or brightness. The chords don't come out too muddily, even on high gain settings, and when I'm picking out those 16th and 32nd note runs, it's very precise making it a decent 'shred' instrument. The sustain isn't AMAZING, but it is fairly decent. Palm muting is a bit different with the floyd but I can get a good chug out of it and I have to dig pretty deep on some pinch harmonics with those single coils, but that might just be my personal difficulties. My only real complaint on the sound is the halfway positions on the pickups are a bit noisy, but other than that it's a well made, loud guitar with a decent tone that you can play just about anything on.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, this is a pretty solid and affordable guitar that I'd recommend to any electric player. I personally adore the action on this thing and how smoothly fast leads can be played on it. I'm not so crazy on the single coils or the noise from the selector's halfway points. The Strat shaped body isn't my favorite either, but it's starting to grow on me. I think this is definitely a good guitar for players just starting to gig and even more advanced artists who want something reliable that they can fall back on. It's definitely worth the price.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is built to last. I've put this thing through the works and it still plays and sounds like when I first bought it. This is not a good representation of how I tend to treat my instruments, but it's been dropped, thrown, stepped on and bumped dozens of times and it's not showing much wear at all. The finish seems to be 4 inches thick because though it has a fairly deep scratch or two, they're not through to the actual wood of the guitar. The neck is sturdy, I've only had to do 1 truss rod adjustment in the year and a half that I've owned it despite it's rough 'ordeals.' The floyd and the locking nut are both a great testament to the ESP name, neither of which have failed or caused excessive tuning yet. I like to have more than one guitar at gigs as a matter of preference, but if this guitar wasn't locked into one tuning at all times I'd feel comfortable playing it throughout a gig. It's definitely sturdy and dependable and can take one hell of a beating.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action on this guitar is excellent and is comfortable to play whether it be complicated chords or those huge arpeggios. It's great for playing more classical stuff like Mason Williams or Rachmaninoff even, but it's definitely better suited for a hard rock/metal style being that the action is pretty low. I find it hard myself not to overplay a little when I'm playing this guitar. The pickups are decent, as I said in the features they're stock and a little noisy in their halfway positions. The selector clicks a little loudly when switching between pickups as well. This guitar didn't have any flaws when I bought it, and I don't really have any complaints about it as far as the feel and look of the instrument other than I'm not too partial to the Strat shape.
Features — 7
All in all, this guitar has a pretty straightforward set up making it pretty quick and easy to get used to. It's a bolt-on with a maple neck/fingerboard and 24 XJ frets for those really fast leads. The body is Strat shaped and made of basswood and has a very nice flamed maple top with a black satin finish that looks pretty groovy under stage lights. It's got a Floyd Rose floating bridge with a locking bridge so it's a bit of a hassle to tune, but stays in tune relatively well. I tend to beat the living hell out of my strings and I rarely have to adjust my fine tuners; about once every week or so. It's got 2 single coils and 1 humbucker, all passive, a 5-way selector, and a single volume and tone control so it's got a decent dynamic. I bought it used with stock ESP pickups which aren't half bad as far as stock pickups go, in my opinion. I'm not sure every store is the same, but I received a gig bag and an allen wrench when I purchased this instrument.